GC writes: “I am being encouraged by the nuns at our church to follow Catholic Women Preach, not sure if this is what I would want to follow. I am a ‘Johnnette Benkovic’ Catholic woman, very conservative and don’t want to waste time with ‘progressive’ materials. Can you look into this for me?”
I would advise caution when subscribing to the preachers on the Catholic Women Preach (CWP) website as they represent a wide range of Catholic female personalities that do not all embrace the teachings of the Magisterium.
For those who have never heard of it, CWP describes itself as “an innovative project designed to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the Church today by responding to Pope Francis’ call for broader and more active engagement of the baptized in the preaching mission of the Church.”
It uses modern technology to bring the voices of “diverse Catholic women to the proclamation of the Gospel through web-based resources.”
Preachers follow the liturgical year and offer reflections on how the texts relate to all Catholics today – but with a special emphasis on women and their role in the Church.
“Their preaching will highlight women traditionally omitted or misrepresented in our lectionary and open the Scripture texts to deepen our understanding of God’s saving presence in the world. Those who view these preaching videos will have the opportunity to see the deep spirituality of Catholic women who preach,” the site explains.
Perhaps this is the first problem I see with this site – the focus on the women who preach rather than on Jesus Christ.
But there are other issues that need to be addressed – such as the questionable affiliations of a few of the CWP preachers.
For example, the outspoken Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and founder of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign, is one of CWP’s preachers. A radical feminist and outspoken dissenter, she addressed the Women’s March in January and is most recently quoted as saying that the Vatican’s response to clergy sexual abuse is “about male power and male image, not people’s stories.”
As for her leadership of NETWORK, a 2012 report by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith criticizing the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious explicitly mentioned NETWORK as being a negative influence. Sr. Simone is also a big supporter of women’s ordination. Click here to see a photo of Sr. Simone at the Women’s Ordination Conference in 2012.
Jocelyn E. Collen, another highly educated preacher at CWP, is the religious educator at the Kennedy Day School in Boston, Massachusetts and a Faith Formation assistant at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish. She is also an executive member of the FutureChurch Board of Trustees.
For those who never heard of it, FutureChurch is an organization formerly headed by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ, who openly questioned whether or not Pope John Paul II had the authority to close the debate about women priests. The organization claims to “seek changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership” by advocating for a return to the Church’s early tradition of both married and celibate priests, recognizing both male and female leaders of faith communities, and granting regular access to the Eucharist for all Catholics.
If you must use this website, my advice would be to do so with discernment, or not at all.