Sr Joan Chittister speaks at conference on women priests

 Several religious sisters including the distinguished Benedictine writer and theologian Sr Joan Chittister, disobeyed warnings from Rome to take part in an international conference in Dublin at the weekend to discuss the issue of women priests. 370 participants from 26 countries attended. The other main speakers were: Nobel peace prize winner from Belfast, Mairead Corrigan Maguire; Anglican vicar Rose Hudson-Wilkin, from London; and theologian John Wijngaards. Sr Joan said she had been asked by the Vatican not to attend. 135 sisters from her order signed letters of support for the monastic practice of personal responsibility and Sr Joan's decision to take part. She insisted that "the Benedictines do not adopt a hierarchical approach to obedience, but have a monastic charism that sees discernment and individual responsibility as the basis of an adult obedience." Eleven resolutions were passed by the conference. They included calls for the Pope to revoke the ban on the discussion of women's ordination; calls for each member organisation to pursue dialogue with local bishops, religious, priests and laity on the subject; the restoration of the diaconate for women; the establishment of suitable training courses where they are not available to women at present; inclusive language in the liturgy; an annual world day of prayer for women's ordination on 25 March and a world conference within three to five years.

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