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Conscience Magazine

Voices of Faith Conference Moves Outside Vatican Following Controversy over Speakers

By Conscience April 29, 2018

On International Women’s Day, the Voices of Faith conference has for the past five years held a conference on the role of women in the Catholic church. For the first four years, the organi­zation held its annual discussion at the Vatican, a privilege uniquely extended to the group among women’s advocacy organiza­tions. Voices of Faith has officially held moderate positions and been silent on topics such as women’s ordi­nation, same-sex relation­ships and women’s healthcare. Notably, the 2018 conference was the first to be held outside the Vatican, a move made by the organization following the Vatican’s rejection of three of its invited speakers. The three women rejected by the Vatican include Mary McAleese, the former presi­dent of Ireland. The other two women are reported to be Ssenfuka Joanita Warry, a lesbian Catholic activist from Uganda, and Tina Beattie, a feminist and academic. With the move to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome, all of the speakers were able to participate, a decision which Mary E. Hunt, the cofounder and codirector of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual described as “the Jesuits [bailing] out the Vatican … ostensibly supporting the women by softening the hierarchy’s blow.” While unclear if the 2018 conference marks a change in strategy for Voices of Faith, McAleese asked in her keynote address, “How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants … a church where women are invisible and voiceless in church leader­ship, in legal and doctrinal discernment and decision­making, but actually are expected to do all the hard work that keeps the church going from generation to generation?”

 


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Offers in-depth, cutting-edge coverage of vital contemporary issues, including reproductive rights, sexuality and gender, feminism, the religious right, church and state and US politics. Our readership includes national and international opinion leaders and policymakers, members of the press and leaders in the fields of theology, ethics and women's studies.