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Women's Role

July 28, 1988

This concerns the spate of petulant letters you received (July 16) regarding Sister Susan Maloney's column ("Church Door Opens for Women," Editorial Page, July 2) on the upcoming Catholic bishops' pastoral letter regarding the role of women in the church. Maloney's remarks included an advocacy of the ordination of women and three of your four correspondents criticized her for this. One suggests that if she doesn't like things as they are, she should become an Episcopalian--which is like saying that if you don't like the way the U.S. is run, you should go to another country. The church is a human, though (we Catholics believe) a divinely-instituted society. As a human institution, it is always in need of reformation and enlightened, constructive criticism helps to ensure that reformation.

Another correspondent calls Maloney "cranky" and suggests that she is motivated by egotism. This name calling is scarcely an argument, even if it were true. The important point that Maloney makes is that Catholics serve the church in different capacities, depending partly on their capabilities and interests. Some men want to serve as priests. We do not assume that is from egotism; why, then, should be consider it egotism when a woman wants to serve as a priest?

Finally, another writer--striking the same theme--says that Maloney should work for the National Organization for Women (this is bad?) and emphasizes that Jesus "preached service and humility." Indeed he did. He said, in fact: "He that is greatest among you, let him be as a slave." A slave does not give orders; does not assume authority. To aspire to be a priest, a bishop, a cardinal, or a Pope need not be to aspire to "climb the corporate ladder," although it may be that. Rather, that desire may be motivated by a zeal for the selfless service of God and man. I suggest that this writer give Maloney the benefit of her charity and not rush to judgment.

FELIX DOHERTY

Bellflower

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