From Where I Stand

Joan Chittister's column has been a popular feature of National Catholic Reporter for many years.

Let the call be heard

In her keynote address at the Fourth International Oblate Congress in Rome, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister spoke about the charism of Benedictinism, the way forward for monastics and Oblates, and how both need each other. According to Sister Joan: "Life is the world’s greatest spiritual director. And each of us learns from it. Each of us — lay as well as religious — carries within us a piece of the truth — but only a piece."

The question is: What's the difference?

This column is about religious thuggery. It's about people who are driven by a kind of primitive energy devoid of thought, philosophy, or human compassion. It is thuggery based on the purported directions of a God who they say destroys those who find spiritual wholeness differently than this God commands. It is thuggery justified by a distorted notion of religion. It is a religious thuggery that in this case distorts the very Islam out which of it claims to grow.

The ending should have been the beginning

Commentary - I learned somewhere that “All spirit starts at the top.” The attribution may be apocryphal, perhaps, but in this case true, nevertheless. Tuesday, in fact, I saw the truth of that with my own eyes. Tuesday’s release of the final report on the apostolic visitation of American nuns launched in 2008 by Cardinal Franc Rodé, then prefect of the congregation for religious life, takes on a completely different tone than at its inception.

Gender inequality is a man's problem

The headlines are confusing. The questions they raise are even more so. For instance, we "empowered" women, right? After more than 2,000 years, the Western world finally woke up, in our time, to the astounding recognition that women, too, were human. Almost. By 1922, most English-speaking countries, including the United States, finally allowed women to vote for political leaders. The struggle was a fierce one, and churchmen and politicians alike considered that breakdown in society to be simply the beginning of the decline.

Cry out, sisters; cry out

Not too long ago, the world barely noticed nuns, and then only in some anonymous or stereotypical way. Now there is hardly an instance when the world does not notice them. The irony is palpable. When we looked like "nuns," we weren't seen. Now that we look simply like ourselves, everybody sees everything we do. Clearly, witness is at least as powerful as uniforms. And nuns have given clear witness to contemplation, equality, and justice these last years.