To the editors:

Despite the anguished protests and weird theories proposed by Ute Ranke-Heineman, Donna Quinn, and others [“A Silenced Woman,” January 3], the fact remains that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is a private and completely voluntary organization. Like most organizations, the Church maintains a body of rules which one must obey to be considered a member in good standing. The difference between the Church’s rules and the rules of other organizations (be they IBM or SDS) is that devout Catholics believe that the Church, and its rules, were established by God through His Son, Jesus Christ and the Apostles. In our lucky country, people are completely free to practice whatever religion or belief system they choose. Woman-Church and its proponents claim to be Catholics. However, a cursory examination of the ideology proposed by McClory’s heroes, Ruether, Ranke-Heineman, and Weind, reveals that while these women passionately believe in something, that “something” seems to be diametrically at odds with Christianity, as understood by its followers for the past 19 centuries. No one, including Cardinal Bernardin and Father Braxton, seeks to interfere with their constitutional right to freedom of speech or religion. What is objected to, however, is their claim to speak for Catholic women and laity in general.

If the Woman-Churchers were intellectually honest, they would simply leave the Catholic Church and start a new one whose doctrines they could accept. If they honestly believe that the Catholic Church is so bad, why not? Donna Quinn and Teresita Weind could proclaim themselves cardinals and elect Rosemary Ruether pope. However, don’t be fooled by the talk about “free zones” and “openness.” In the Church of Ruether, Quinn, and Curran, no heresy is tolerated. Dissidents are rejected as stifling, shallow, “authoritarian,” and “legalistic.” According to Pope Rosemary Ruether, the unenlightened priest, who stubbornly continues to teach the Gospel of Christ, instead of the politically correct gospel of Ruether, is the very personification of obscenity.

McClory considers Teresita Weind to be a “silenced woman,” although I don’t see why. Weind was an employee of Saint Catherine-Saint Lucy Parish, which is owned by the archdiocese of Chicago. Her personal beliefs were in basic conflict with those of her employer. (If McClory had interviewed more parishioners, he would have probably discovered that Weind’s radical views are not shared by the majority of parishioners.) Because of this conflict, Weind was asked to resign. She was then hired by the Bishop of Saginaw, who apparently finds her ideology more palatable. In what sense then was she “silenced?” In reality, the “silence” of Weind and her ideological allies is not silence at all. If Mr. McClory were in the least bit familiar with the American religious scene, he would surely know that Woman-Church and its allies are extremely vocal in Church matters. Indeed, far from being hounded and oppressed, the Weinds, Stallings, and Quinns are typically coddled by weak-hearted bishops, including Cardinal Bernardin. Teresita Weind was not an unknown figure in the Chicago Archdiocese. As McClory reports, prior to her ousting this vocally antiorthodox woman held various positions in the local Church bureaucracy which enabled her to influence diocesan policy, especially liturgical planning, apparently with the full knowledge and support of Bernardin.

In recent months, the Reader has demonstrated a great deal of interest in the Catholic Church. While most of the coverage has not been exactly complimentary, by quoting Ruether, Quinn, and Company, the Reader has provided a valuable service to Chicago Catholics. The more they know about Woman-Church and its local affiliate, Chicago Catholic Women, the sooner Chicago Catholics will recognize them as the muddleheaded wackos they really are.

Thomas J. Crowe