Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 8, No. 3, March 2012
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Fostering Gender Equality in Religion


This supplement is a digest of recent events and significant contributions to fostering gender equality - and human development - in various secular cultures and institutions. It is acknowledged that the distinction between the secular and religious dimensions is an artificial one, often blurred in real life situations. In those cases, if the material is predominantly secular it is included here; else it is included in Supplement 5. The selected items are the editor's choice. Suggestions by readers are welcomed. Reporting on good role models is a high priority. The following sections are included this month:

1. The Religious Roots of Gender Violence
2. Heterosexuals and Homosexuals in Religion
3. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Judaism
4. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Christianity
5. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Islam
6. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Buddhism
7. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Hinduism
8. Paula Gonzalez: Sister of Charity and "Solar Nun"
9. Amrutha - A Theological Novel by John Wijngaards

The promotion of gender equality in religion is a slow and painful process, and it is barely beginning to unfold worldwide. But it is a dynamic process, one in which progress begets progress. It is important to stay tuned to relevant news coming from all world regions and all world religions. The Google News box displayed to the right may be helpful. Readers can enhance their web sites with their own version of this box, which is continuously refreshed as significant events are reported, by going to Google News, clicking on "Add a section," and follow simple instructions under "Create a custom section." This is a free service, but you must register in order to use the customization tool.

If you know about recent developments that should be mentioned in this page, please write to the Editor.



"Justice for Women" is focus of Archbishop's Women's Day service
Anglican Communion News Service
29 February 2012

Justice for Women Action Sheet
Anglican Alliance
International Women’s Day and Mothers Day, 2012

1. The Religious Roots of Gender Violence

Source: The Religious Consultation
Violence Against Women
in Contemporary World Religion:
Roots And Cures

Daniel C. Maguire
Professor of Moral Theology & Ethics, Marquette University, and President, The Religious Consultation On Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics

Note: The following is quoted (with permission) from Violence Against Women in Contemporary World Religion: Roots And Cures, Daniel C. Maguire and Sa'Diyya Shaikh (Editors), Pilgrim Press, 2007, 248 pages.

Excerpts from Chapter 2, "The Courtroom and the Garden: Gender and Violence in Christendom," by Grace M. Jantzen, page 40:

"Those who have looked to the Bible and to Christian theology for resources for change have usually done so by pointing out that the Bible itself contains alternative understandings of covenant, warfare, and sacrifice, understandings that radically subvert their violence and exclusivity. The covenant, for instance, can be understood as reaching out to all peoples: if there are a "chosen few" they are chosen as those who have a special task of publishing the good news of the divine covenant to everyone, not or reserving it to themselves.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the one who gives his life rather than stoop to the violence that excludes anyone, even those cast out by society, from his fellowship. And the sacrifice God requires is not a sacrifice of blood, but a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17), a heart that seeks integrity and social justice for all, especially those unable to seek it for themselves.

"What makes you think I want all your sacrifices? Says the LORD. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Correct oppression. Defend the cause of orphans. Plead for the rights of widows." (Isaiah 1:11, 16b-17)

There is much in the Bible, especially in the Hebrew prophets and in the life and teaching of Jesus, that thoroughly discredits the interpretations of covenant, war, and sacrifice outlined in the previous sections, and with them the gender constructions and the violence against women that they have supported."

Editor's Note: It would be wise as well to examine the impact of patriarchal religious practices on boys and men. The symptoms may be different but, directly or indirectly, religious patriarchy harms men as much as it harms women. Recent examples include the incredible cases of child abuse in several Christian churches and the bellicose fundamentalism that persists in some Islamic cultures. Violence begets violence. What goes around comes around. In both religion and society, when 50% of the population dominates the other 50%, 100% of the population is bound to suffer in one way or another. A civilized transition from consumerism to sustainability requires the talents and collaboration of all men and women, heterosexual or homosexual, in all dimensions of human life and across the full range of the gender continuum.

For further study and reflection on religious violence:

  • "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:9-13
  • Colloquium On Violence & Religion (COV&R), Official website for exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard‘s Mimetic Theory.
  • Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay, James Alison, Crossroad, 2001.
  • The Masculinity Conspiracy, Joseph Gelfer, CreateSpace, 14 August 2011.
  • The Forgiving Victim, James Alison, The Raven Foundation, forthcoming July 2012.

  • 2. Heterosexuals and Homosexuals in Religion

    Patriarchy preceded all the major religions that exist today, and biased them all from the beginning in favor of heterosexual male hegemony and domination (Cf. Genesis 3:16). This section is a synopsis about the universality of the deeply ingrained prejudice - undoubtedly based on male-only images of God - that must be overcome if organized religion is not to become an obstacle to integral human development.
    • Religious Tolerance, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 1995-2011.
    • This web site offers an excellent synopsis (with passage quotations, annotated citations, and links to other web sites) about the status of women in the Bible and in early Christianity. It is structured as follows:

      • During Old Testament times, when the roles of women were severely restricted
        • Hebrew scripture passages treating women as generally inferior to men
        • Hebrew scripture passages treating women as property of men
        • Hebrew scripture passages describing women in other negative terms
        • Hebrew scripture passages describing women as equal to men (very few)
        • Hebrew scripture passages describing women as leaders (but not as religious leaders)
      • During Jesus' public ministry to the people of Israel, when the roles of women were severely restricted in accordance with the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) traditions and practices
      • Changing roles of women after the execution and resurrection of Jesus (circa 30 CE)
      • Regressive statements by Christian religious authorities (all male) after the 2nd century CE

      By following these lists of biblical and post-biblical statements, the reader is able to verify the descriptive versus prescriptive passages about women, and the significant discontinuities that must be researched, as pointed out in Section 1.

    • The emerging field of women and gender studies now includes issues of men, masculinities, and spirituality. See, for example:
    • It is important for gender studies to be balanced and include the study of both men and women, heterosexual and homosexual. Gender studies, if properly integrated along the gender continuum, can provide crucial insights to help foster gender equality and gender balance.

    • What "America's Pope" thinks of gay marriage, priestly celibacy, and women priests, CBS Sixty Minutes Overtime, 21 August 2011.
    • On the ordination of women:

      Archbishop Dolan: "Jesus gave women positions of responsibility. The only ones at the foot of the cross except for St. John? Women. The people that discovered his resurrection? Women. The people that were with him on his journeys? Women. People say, 'This guy was kind of a pioneer in women's rights.' So, if he were going to intend them for the priesthood, he woulda done it. And he didn't."

      Mother Pelican's Response: The good archbishop is offering a specious argument based on a literalist interpretation of gospel texts taken out of context. There are many things Jesus did 2000 years ago that he wouldn't do today. Would he, in the globalized society of the 21st century, select twelve Jewish men to represent the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel? Likewise, there are many things Jesus didn't do 2000 years ago that he would do today (such as including women among the apostles, since the credibility of women as witnesses now has as much credibility as that of men) and he warned his disciples about thinking that they already knew everything he might do in the future (John 16:12-13).

    • Two Wings of a Bird: The Equality of Women and Men, Bahá'í International Community, 1999.
    • The Bahá'í religion is a shining exception to the phallic syndrome that prevails in many religious institutions: "The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is essential to human progress and the transformation of society. Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself. The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world's population is an affront to human dignity. It promotes destructive attitudes and habits in men and women that pass from the family to the work place, to political life, and, ultimately, to international relations. On no grounds, moral, biological, or traditional, can inequality be justified. The moral and psychological climate necessary to enable our nation to establish social justice and to contribute to global peace will be created only when women attain full partnership with men in all fields of endeavor." It is noteworthy that the Bahá'ís do not have clergy, so it may have been easier for them to avoid the trap of a male-only hierarchy.

    In brief, since their inception most religions have absorbed the patriarchal mindset of male hegemony, and awareness that this isa prejudice to be overcome - rather than a sacred tradition to be conserved and transmitted - is a new phenomenon. Perhaps the impending economic and ecological crises, and the unavoidable need for all humans to collaborate in transitioning to a world of solidarity and sustainability, will induce a religious renewal and help to overcome pseudo-dogmatic resistance to change.

    3. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Judaism

    Star of David
    Courtesy of Wikipedia
    Wikipedia article on Women in Judaism:

    The role of women in Judaism is determined by the Hebrew Bible, the Oral Law (the corpus of rabbinic literature), by custom, and by non-religious cultural factors. Although the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature mention various female role models, religious law treats women differently in various circumstances.

    Relatively few women are mentioned in the Bible by name and role, suggesting that they were rarely in the forefront of public life. There are a number of exceptions to this rule, including the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, Miriam the prophetess, Deborah the Judge, Huldah the prophetess, Abigail who married David, and Esther. In the Biblical account these women did not meet with opposition for the relatively public presence they had.

    According to Jewish tradition, a covenant was formed between the Israelites and the God of Abraham at Mount Sinai. The Torah relates that both Israelite men and Israelite women were present at Sinai, however, the covenant was worded in such a way that it bound men to act upon its requirements and to ensure that the members of their household (wives, children, and slaves) met these requirements as well. In this sense, the covenant bound women as well, though indirectly.

    To continue reading the Wikipedia article, click here.

    The Wikipedia article includes a very comprehensive bibliography and a directory of links to Jewish religious sources. With regard to current trends on the role of women in Judaism, the following articles are very instructive:

    Disturbing recent news on religious violence against women:

    If this is the situation today, imagine how it was 2000 years ago!

    4. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Christianity

    Mesa para Todos ~ Table for All
    Courtesy of Iglesia Descalza
    Wikipedia article on Gender Roles in Christianity:

    Gender roles in Christianity vary considerably today as they have during the last two millennia. This is especially true with regards to marriage and ministry.

    Christianity traditionally has given men the position of authority in marriage, society and government. This position places women in submissive roles, and usually excludes women from church leadership, especially from formal positions requiring any form of ordination. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and many conservative Protestant denominations assert today that only men can be ordained—as clergy and as deacons.

    Many progressive Christians disagree with the traditional "male authority" and "female submission" paradigm. They take a Christian egalitarian or Christian feminist view, holding that the overarching message of Christianity provides positional equality for women in marriage and in ministry. Accordingly, some Protestant churches now ordain women to positions of ecclesiastical leadership.

    Despite these emerging theological differences, the majority of Christians regard women with dignity and respect as having been created alongside men in the Image of God. The Bible is seen by many as elevating and honoring women, especially as compared with certain other religions or societies. Women have filled prominent roles in the Church historically, and continue to do so today in spite of significant limitations imposed by ordination restrictions.

    To continue reading the Wikipedia article, click here.

    Women Bishops and the Church’s Core Purpose
    Savi Hensman, Ekklesia, 2 February 2012

    The Church of England’s decisions about women bishops are likely to have a major impact on its mission as well as its ministry. If the church appears to be reluctant to accept and fully use women’s gifts, attempts to attract and involve more people across a wide age-range may be undermined.

    Research findings: cause for concern

    Findings from the 28th British Social Attitudes survey were published in December 2011. It showed a serious decline in religious belief and practice in recent decades. 31per cent in 1983 did not belong to a religion, compared to 50 per cent now (64 per cent of those aged 18-24).

    There are various reasons for this. But evidence suggests that the widespread perception that Christianity treats women as inferior is one of the factors.

    For instance in 2008, Women and Religion in the West: Challenging Secularization, edited by social scientist Kristin Aune of the University of Derby and two others, was published by Ashgate. This revealed that, in England, Christian churches had lost over a million women worshippers since 1989, in part because of their perceived attitudes.

    “Because of its focus on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Dr Aune observed. “Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church.”

    In contrast, there is evidence valuing women’s gifts has a positive effect on mission. For instance, a 2010 University of Warwick paper, 'Statistics for evidence-based policy in the Church of England: Predicting diocesan performance', by Leslie J Francis and colleagues, examined the factors linked to differences in diocesan performance during the Decade of Evangelism, from 1991-2000. In dioceses with a higher proportion of women clergy, the Church of England tended to enjoy more growth or slower decline.

    Taking into account the fall in church membership and involvement, and even nominal Christianity, such findings deserve serious consideration.

    The debate over women bishops

    There is wide public support for allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. A YouGov online survey in July 2010 of Britons aged 18 or over found that 63 per cent were in favour and only 10 per cent against, while the remaining 27 per cent expressed no opinion. By the end of 2011, after dioceses had discussed the issue, it had become apparent that there was overwhelming support among churchgoers too.

    Moving forward on this matter would greatly assist the church in mission and ministry in England today. The decision on whether women should be eligible to be bishops in the Church of England (or senior clergy or elders in other churches) does not simply affect potential candidates, but has far wider implications.

    The role of bishops is not merely administrative: they are there to nurture and support other clergy in their calling and, most importantly, to enable the priesthood of all believers, in all their diversity, so that the whole people of God in each locality can witness in word and deed to the good news of Christ.

    The exclusion of any section of the Christian community from being even considered as bishops can have a demoralising effect on those who, at parish level, are seeking to live out their faith within an often sceptical society, and to help to build God’s realm of justice and peace in an deeply unequal and sometimes harsh world.

    There has been growing recognition that both men and women are made in God’s image and that, in Christ, barriers are broken down: in the words of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Yet the church has often failed to communicate this effectively to the wider world, in part because this is not fully reflected in its own life. Some churches seem unsure how to respond when the Holy Spirit calls and empowers women.

    There is an understandable wish in church circles to accommodate the small minority of churchgoers who still do not accept women’s ordained ministry, and proposals have allowed generous provision to enable them to be ministered to by solely male clergy, including the delegation of pastoral functions to male bishops.

    Some are uneasy with this but have accepted it because of the desire to move forward together. However there is a risk that concessions could be extended so far that the role of women bishops was seriously undermined, and ordination of women to the episcopate might become unworkable. This would be a tragedy, not only for the Church of England but also for Christian witness nationally.

    However, a positive decision by the Church of England to open up all orders of ministry to women as well as men could promote mission, especially if used as an opportunity to share the theological reasoning behind the move. For, now as much as two thousand years ago, Christians believe that the living Christ continues to invite men and women, people of different ages, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, to follow, be transformed, join in changing the world and become inheritors of eternal life.


    © Savi Hensman is a respected Christian commentator on religion, politics, theology and social policy. She is an Ekklesia associate.

    Source: Wikipedia

    Bishop Minerva Carcaño
    Has a Nearly Impossible Job

    Expectations are high for this progressive leader,
    but conservative backlash looms.

    By Mary E. Hunt
    Religious Dispatches
    16 February 2012

    5. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Islam

    Islamic Symbol
    Courtesy of Wikipedia
    Wikipedia article on Women in Islam:

    The study of women in Islam investigates the role of women within the religion of Islam. The complex relationship between women and Islam is defined by both Islamic texts and the history and culture of the Muslim world. The Qur'an makes it clear that men and women are equal, however the Qu'ran states in 4:34, "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard." Although the Quran does say this, the superiority of men is interpreted in terms of strength by the context - men maintain women. This verse however refers to a relationship between a husband and wife, not in society as a whole.

    Sharia (Islamic law) provides for complementarianism, differences between women's and men's roles, rights, and obligations. However neither the Quran nor Hadith mention women have to cook or clean. The majority of Muslim countries give women varying degrees of rights with regards to marriage, divorce, civil rights, legal status, dress code, and education based on different interpretations. Scholars and other commentators vary as to whether they are just and whether they are a correct interpretation of religious imperatives.

    To continue reading the Wikipedia article, click here.

    Some additional references:

  • The Women of Islam, Lisa Beyer, Time Magazine, 25 November 2001.
  • Mauritanian Islamic leaders ban genital mutilation, Mohamed Abdel Wedoud, Magharebia, 15 January 2010.
  • Women in Islam, Catherine of Siena Virtual College, 2010.
  • Gender Equity in Islam (Foundations of Spiritual and Human Equity), Jamal Badawi, Islam Online, 29 March 2011.
  • Gender Equity in Islam (The Economic Aspect), Jamal Badawi, Islam Online, 30 March 2011.
  • Gender Equity in Islam (The Social Aspect), Jamal Badawi, Islam Online, 4 April 2011.
  • Gender Equity in Islam (The Legal/Political Aspect), Jamal Badawi, Islam Online, 7 April 2011.
  • Gender Segregation and Inequality inside Israel and Palestine, International Middle East Media Center, 30 November 2011.
  • International conference calls for gender equality in Muslim societies, Today's Zaman, Istanbul, 23 December 2011.
  • Within, Without: Dialogical Perspectives on Feminism and Islam, Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and Fatima Husain, Religion & Gender, February 2012.
  • 6. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Buddhism

    Dharma Wheel
    Courtesy of Wikipedia
    Wikipedia article on Women in Buddhism:

    "Women in Buddhism is a topic that can be approached from varied perspectives including those of theology, history, anthropology and feminism. Topical interests include the theological status of women, the treatment of women in Buddhist societies at home and in public, the history of women in Buddhism, and a comparison of the experiences of women across different forms of Buddhism. As in other religions, the experiences of Buddhist women have varied considerably.

    "The founder of the religion, Gautama Buddha, permitted women to join his monastic community and fully participate in it, although there were certain provisos or garudhammas. As Susan Murcott has commented: "The nun's sangha was a radical experiment for its time" [Murcott, Susan (1991). The First Buddhist Women:Translations and Commentary on the Therigatha. Parallax Press. page 4.] Dr. Mettanando Bhikkhu says of the First Buddhist council: "Perhaps Mahakassappa and the bhikkhus of that time were jealous of the bhikkhunis being more popular and doing more teaching and social work than the bhikkhus. Their anti-women prejudice became institutionalized at that time with the eight garudhammas, the eight weighty restrictions. We must discontinue that prejudice. There is no anti-women prejudice in Jainism and they survived in India; whereas Buddhism had prejudice and did not survive in India" [see The First Council and Suppression of the Bhikkhuni Order]. Although it must be said that this is factually incorrect, because there are jain sects like the Digambara sect, which believes that women are capable of spiritual progress, but must be reborn male, in order to attain final spiritual liberation. It is also highly doubtful that the garudhammas were motivated by Mahakaasapa's being jealous, as he is said to be an enlightened one and one of the principle disciples of the Buddha. Furthermore there's no support within canon, to suggest that the bhikkunis were more popular, taught more or that they did more social work than Bhikkhus.

    "The various schools and traditions within Buddhism hold different views as to the possibilities of women's spiritual attainments. Feminist scholars have also noted than even when a woman's potential for spiritual attainment is acknowledged, records of such achievements may not be kept - or may be obscured by gender-neutral language or mis-translation of original sources by Western scholars. According to Bernard Faure, "Like most clerical discourses, Buddhism is indeed relentlessly misogynist, but as far as misogynist discourses go, it is one of the most flexible and open to multiplicity and contradiction."

    To continue reading the Wikipedia article, click here.

    Some additional references:

  • The Place of Women in Buddhism, Swarna de Silva, Enabling Support Foundation, 1994.
  • A Grand Declaration of Gender Equality, Writings on Buddhism, Soka Gakkai International, 1996.
  • Full Ordination of Women in Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, 2007.
  • An Argument Against Gender Discrimination Within The Buddhist Sangha, Anthony Burns, International Buddhist College, Thailand, 2007.
  • Buddhism and Women, BhudaNet (with links to other resources), 2008.
  • The Position of Women in Buddhism , L.S. Dewaraja, Buddhist Pub Soc, Sri Lanka, 2011.
  • Ordination of Women in Buddhism, Wikipedia, 2011.
  • Buddhism Gender and Sexuality, Patheos, 2011.
  • 7. Women and Religious Gender Roles in Hinduism

    Symbol of Hinduism
    Courtesy of Wikipedia
    Wikipedia article on Women in Hinduism:

    The role of women in Hinduism is often disputed, and positions range from equal status with men to restrictive. Hinduism is based on numerous texts, some of which date back to 2000 BCE or earlier. They are varied in authority, authenticity, content and theme, with the most authoritative being the Vedas. The position of women in Hinduism is widely dependent on the specific text and the context. Positive references are made to the ideal woman in texts such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, while some texts such as the Manu Smriti advocate a restriction of women's rights. In modern times the Hindu wife has traditionally been regarded as someone who must at all costs remain chaste or pure. This is in contrast with the very different traditions that have prevailed at earlier times in 'Hindu' kingdoms, which included highly respected professional courtesans (such as Amrapali of Vesali), sacred devadasis, mathematicians and female magicians (the basavis, the Tantric kulikas). Some European scholars observed in the nineteenth century Hindu women were "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women, although what exactly they meant by that is open to dispute. In any case, as male foreigners they would have been denied access to the secret and sacred spaces that women often inhabited. Mahabharata and Manusmriti asserts that gods are delighted only when women are worshiped or honoured, otherwise all spiritual actions become futile.

    There is a wide variety of viewpoints within the different schools and sects of Hinduism concerning the exact nature and gender (where applicable) of the Supreme person or being; there are even sects that are skeptical about the existence of such a being. Shaktism, for example, focuses worship on the goddess Devi as the supreme embodiment of power, or Shakti (feminine strength; a female form of God). Vaishnavism and Shaivism both worship Lakshmi with Vishnu and Parvati with Shiva respectively as beings on an equal level of magnitude (the male and female aspects of God). In some instances such as with Gaudiya Vaishnavism, specific emphasis is placed on the worship of God's female aspect (Radharani) even above that of her paramour Krishna. Thus it could be said that Hinduism considers God to have both male and female aspects, as the original source of both.

    To continue reading the Wikipedia article, click here.

    Some additional references:

  • Landmark Step to Gender Equality, Bina Agarwal, The Hindu, 2005.
  • Women in Hinduism, Hindu Wisdom, 2008.
  • Gender equality is passé, let us usher in gender partnership, V. N. Mukundarajan, The Hindu, 2010.
  • Shaming numbers, Editorial, The Hindu, September 2011.
  • 8. Paula Gonzalez: Sister of Charity and "Solar Nun"

    Sister Paula Gonzalez, SC

    Paula Gonzalez, SC - The Solar Nun
    Sustainable Midlands Blog

    Sister Paula González, S.C., Ph.D., (born 1932) entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1954. She earned her doctorate in biology at the Catholic University in Washington, DC, and was a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 21 years.

    Since 1972, Sister Paula has been freelancing as a futurist and environmentalist, working for more than three decades to promote sustainable living. She supported the work of the Alternate Energy Association of Southwestern Ohio, including serving as president for a while. She has developed audiotape courses in Earth-healing; has written several articles and book chapters on ecospirituality, conservation, renewable energy, and spiritual ecology; and has reached thousands in person by giving over 1800 presentations.

    Sister Paula designed and did much of the work of converting a former chicken barn into “La Casa del Sol,” a 1,200 sq ft (110 m2) super-insulated, passive-solar house she shares with another Sister of Charity. When the temperature dropped below zero in the winter of 1985, the home temperature dropped to no lower than 50 degrees without any heater running. Sister Paula’s success with solar energy earned her the nickname “Solar Nun.”

    Sister Paula founded EarthConnection, an environmental learning center where tours, internships, and environmental educational programs have been conducted. Located on the grounds of her congregation’s motherhouse, the EarthConnection Center was completed in 1995 and continues to showcase various renewable-energy technologies including daylighting, passive and active solar thermal, grid-tied photovoltaic, and geo-exchange energy systems. The systems are not only impressive in their variety, but also notable for the unusual “solar-assisted geothermal” configuration, where summer heat is transferred from solar thermal collectors to an insulated bed of earth around the building for use the following winter.

    The American Solar Energy Society’s Ohio Chapter, Green Energy Ohio, gave Sister Paula their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

    In 2007, Sister Paula and Keith Mills founded Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, a coalition of religious people responding to the climate-change crisis. Ohio Interfaith Power and Light is an affiliate of The Regeneration Project’s national Interfaith Power and Light campaign, which has programs in 26 states involving over 4000 congregations (as of May 2008).


    1. In Medical-Surgical Nursing by Shafer et al., Ecology and Health, St. Louis: Mosby, 1975.
    2. Study Guide to Accompany Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology, Reith, Breidenbach, Lorenc, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978.
    3. In The Future of Global Nuclearization, Global Nuclearization: Some Alternative Futures, New York:Joint Strategy and Action Committee, Inc., 1985.
    4. In Embracing Earth: Catholic Approaches to Ecology, An Eco-prophetic Parish?, A.J. LaChance and J.E. Carroll, eds., Maryknoll, NY: 1994.
    5. In Ecology and Religion: Scientists Speak, Learning from the Earth: Key to Sustainable Development, J.E. Carroll and K.E. Warner, eds., Quincy IL: Franciscan Press, 1998.
    6. In Earth at Risk: An Environmental Dialogue between Religion and Science, Developing an Ethic for Sustainable Community, D.B. Conroy and R.L. Petersen, New York: Humanity Books, 2000.
    Audiotape Programs
    1. Healing the Earth: An Emerging Spirituality, (12-session minicourse), Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1991.
    2. What on Earth Are We Doing? (5 hours), Kansas City, MO: Credence Cassettes, 1994.
    Videotape Programs
    1. Reading the Signs of the Times: Justice, Ecology and Christian Life, (2 hours), Laurel MD: Earth Communications, 1995.
    2. In The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying Our Lives, Awakening to the Sacred (1 hr) and Toward a Sustainable Future (1 hr), Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation Summer Conference, 2007.
    Journal/Magazine Articles (Selection)
    1. In Momentum (NCEA Journal),“New “3Rs” for the Teacher of the 1990s”, December, 1986.
    2. In InFormation, “Moving into the New Millennium: Challenges for Religious”, March, April, 1998.
    3. In Occasional Papers (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), “Befriending Change”, April, 1999.
    4. In Radical Grace (Center for Action and Contemplation), “Every Day Should Be ‘Earth Day’”, April–June, 2001.
    5. In Earthlight (Journal for Ecological and Spiritual Living), “Living in a Eucharistic Universe”, Spring, 2004.
    6. In Preach, “Called to Tend the Sacred”, Sept/Oct, 2004.
    7. In Earthlight, “Toward A New Monasticism” Spring, 2005.
    8. In Radical Grace, “Tis The Gift to Be Simple”, Spring, 2007.
    9. In St. Anthony Messenger, “The Our Father: Our Environmental Prayer”, Oct, 2007.

    RECENT ENGAGEMENT: Eco-Education Events for the Public and Faith Communities

    9. Amrutha - A Theological Novel by John Wijngaards

    Amrutha: What the Pope's man
    found out about the Law of Nature

    John Wijngaards
    Author House, 2011

    "Monsignor Shamus McKenna, 'Muss' to his friends, serves the Pope in Rome as theological adviser. His job requires him to uphold the medieval doctrine of natural law which recent Popes have imposed on all Catholics. When Muss enters the real world, he is in for a shock.

    "The sexual ethics of "Natural Law" have created havoc in the Catholic world. Married couples may never use the pill or a condom. Gay partners are forbidden any form of sexual intimacy. Women are mothers by nature and not suitable for the priesthood . . . .

    "Carrying out his unusual research Muss faces one risky challenge after the other. He delves into dark recesses of human sexuality. He finds out what women are really like, and falls in love. He becomes a husband and father.

    "But will he ever escape the menacing, stifling, suffocating stranglehold of the LAW OF NATURE?!"

    To get a copy of the book, click here.

    The Body is Sacred
    John Wijngaards

    "Past Catholic morality has been tainted with negative views on sexuality. On this site we present a balanced view, supported by modern Catholic theology. We try to preserve a healthy balance, asserting that sex is good & sacred, avoiding left and right extremes:"


    New Focus in Catholic Sexual Morality

    • 1. The shift from ontological constructs of gender, marriage and sexuality to the experiential discovery of gender, marriage and sexuality.
    • 2. The shift from 'Augustinian' dualism to celebrating the marvelous gift of body, gender and sex
    • 3. The shift from law-centered sexual ethics to person-centered sexual ethics

    To read this sections, click here.

    The Controversy about Natural Law

    • Background information about 'Natural Law'
    • Medieval views based on the work of Thomas Aquinas
    • The natural law of sex
    • The tyranny of the Catholic Church's sexual ethics
    • The thinking of Church leaders fails
    • Human intelligence is natural law for us

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