Nun Barred from Teaching

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

A nun who refuses to recant her support for womens ordination has been barred from teaching or speaking in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

According to a report by the Catholic Telegraph, the Archbishop of Cincinnati Daniel Pilarczyk, will no longer allow Sister of Charity Louise Akers, 66, to teach or speak on behalf of the archdiocese due to her continuing support for womens ordination.

Sr. Louise never hid her support for the cause, and was listed as an advisory board member for the Women’s Ordination Conference with her photo and name appearing on the website. Although she agreed to remove herself from the site after a meeting with the Archbishop in early August, she has refused to publicly withdraw her support for the ordination of women.

”For me, it’s an issue of justice within the church,” she told the National Catholic Reporter. “For me to make a public statement in support of the doctrine would be to go against my conscience, and I can’t do that.”

Citing his responsibility to safeguard authentic Catholic teaching in his diocese, Archbishop Pilarczyk revoked her privilege to teach or speak in his diocese until she recants her support for a cause that defies Church teaching.

“It is a bishop’s responsibility to provide authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in his diocese,” the Archbishop told the Catholic Telegraph on Sept. 3. “Persons who are not in accord with the teaching of the church should not expect to be allowed to teach catechetical leaders or others in the name of the church.”

Sister Barbara Hagedorn, president of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, issued a written statement of support for Sr. Louise. “As a matter of conscience, Sister Louise is unable to refute her beliefs on this issue. Because this is a personnel matter of the archdiocese, the issue remains between the archbishop and Sister Louise Akers. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati support Sister Louise and all those involved in this difficult situation with our prayers and concern.”

Sister Louise entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1960 and earned degrees from the College of Mount St. Joseph and the University of Dayton. She earned a doctorate in feminist theology from the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass. Her doctoral project was titled “Patriarchal Power and the Pauperization of Women.”

She served as a member of the Social Action Office staff in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and has been an adjunct and visiting professor at Mount St. Joseph and at Xavier University in the past. She also taught classes and courses related to issues of peace and justice for the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

In June, 2008, another Sister of Charity, Sr. Louise Lears, was placed under interdict by then-Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke for her promotion of women’s ordination and her participation in an illicit ceremony ordaining women in 2007. Sister Louise Lears also refused to recant her support for women’s ordination and was issued the penalty of interdict, which forbids her from receiving the sacraments or participating in public worship. 

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