Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 3, 2010
Kambeitz challenges sisters to speak out on abuse issues
Paul VI urged women to 'save the peace of the world,' she recalls
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Consecrated women cannot remain silent in light of the sex scandals destroying the moral credibility of the Church, says Ursuline Sister Teresita Kambeitz.
"Who is going to speak out if we as consecrated women don't speak out?" Kambeitz asked. "Who is going to speak on behalf of the children? Who is going to encourage the good and faithful priests? Who is going to call the bishops to account?"
Kambeitz, a professor at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon and a former professor at Newman Theological College, gave a series of talks on Hope-Filled Discipleship at the annual assembly of the Council of Consecrated Women (CCW) April 23-24.
Some 70 consecrated women took part in the assembly at Providence Renewal Centre.
Archbishop Richard Smith congratulated women for focusing on hope, saying Catholics are essentially hope-filled people. "It's very easy to find all sorts of causes for weeping but we cannot stay there," he said.
"We must always be fundamentally people of hope. Because no matter the causes for the tears, God is always bigger and God always takes whatever is bad, some of which comes from our own mistakes and our weaknesses, and turns it into good."
HOPE, JOY, COMMUNION
The archbishop was not present for Kambeitz's presentations. But he told participants he sees a need for witness to three things, which come out of the nature of the Church itself. "We must be witnesses to hope, we must be witnesses to joy and we must be witnesses to communion."
Kambeitz told assembly participants they should not just take action but must be seen to take action. "I think it's so important that lay people see that leaders in the Church are doing something."
Kambeitz compared the situation of the Church to Eyjafjallajokull, the Iceland volcano spewing lava and ash throughout Europe. "It's like the earth has a giant stomachache and it's just trying to vomit it all out. But it's renewing the surface of the ground," she said.
"Sometimes it takes sort of convulsive experiences to bring about genuine renewal. There is a kind of an eruption (in the Church) and all kinds of stuff is coming out - lava of sorts, you know?"
CAN'T BE QUIET
In light of this, women can't stay quiet, Kambeitz said, stressing her call for action has its roots in a message to women made by Pope Paul VI at the end of the Second Vatican Council.
In his closing message to the council, the pope called on the women of the world to "save the peace of the world" and to "hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, may attempt to destroy the human civilization."
"All I'm doing is asking the women to respond to this message," the Ursuline sister said in an interview.
Referring to the sexual abuse, she said, "You can't close your eyes to that and pretend it didn't happen and then blame the media for publishing it."
The media has reacted the way it has simply because "they expect more moral leadership from the Catholic Church," the sister said.
Kambeitz read part of an open letter from theologian Hans Kung calling on the world's bishops to press the Vatican for reform in light of the scandals.
Kung says there is a need for a new council to discuss those reforms. Kambeitz disagrees.
"I don't particularly think (a new council) would be the route to go because there wouldn't be any women there," she said. Recently she wrote a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a friend of Pope Benedict, asking him to "urge the pope to call an emergency meeting of professional people" instead.
This meeting, which would include psychiatrists and psychologists, both women and men, "would formulate policies and help the Church to implement plans to deal with the sexual abuse crisis."
When the scandal about former Antigonish Bishop Raymond Lahey broke last October, Kambeitz wrote to the then president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop James Weisgerber, asking him if "this is the time for the bishops to establish a discipline committee made up of women and men, much like the medical profession and the legal profession have a discipline committee to discipline and monitor the behavior of their own membership."
Kambeitz asked the CCW if it, like Kung, would be willing to write an open letter on the sexual scandals.
In any case, consecrated women should start by helping little children in parishes and schools acquire skills to defend themselves against sexual predators, Kambeitz said.
"I know there are protocols dealing with victims after the abuse has happened. That's great but I'm asking the question what about the education we offer children and young people to prevent sexual abuse from happening? Can we help them?"
Consecrated women should also see what kind of support they could offer to good and faithful priests who are being affected by the scandal, Kambeitz said.
"I'm sure you all have stories too of friends and colleagues and priests, faithful priests, who are suffering so deeply. Several of the priests at the college where I work are just deeply pained over this," the Ursuline said.
CCW members discussed Kambeitz's suggestions at their tables but didn't have time to report back.
Sister Jeannette Filthaut, chair of the CCW, said the council took Kambeitz's call for action seriously and will discuss what to do.
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