The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Barry Jones, is opposing a visit by a controversial feminist nun from the United States.
He has written to priests saying that next week’s visit by Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister is unauthorised.
Permission for the event had not been sought or given, and Jones did not want it promoted through Catholic churches.
"The point is that silence generates the misunderstanding that this is all approved, when it’s not. I have made my position clear to the priests," he said.
Chittister, from Eire, Pennsylvania, has clashed with church authorities internationally over her strong stance on issues such as women’s ordination and contraception.
She attended the first Women’s Ordination Worldwide Conference in 2000, defying an order by the Vatican.
An independent group of Catholic lay people, the Adult Education Trust, has invited Chittister to Christchurch.
She will speak about spirituality, culture, justice and "God, women and the world".
Jones opposed the visit because he said Chittister did not agree with the Catholic Church’s teachings.
"I don’t see how I, as a bishop, can advance the teachings of the Catholic Church by appearing to condone other views," he said.
High-profile Sister Pauline O’Regan, of the Sisters of Mercy, backs Chittister’s visit and was surprised by Jones’s stance.
It is rather heartening that we are getting more and more stories like this.
"It sort of sounds like censorship, doesn’t it?" O’Regan said. "I think she has a very loving attitude towards challenging the church in matters where it needs to look at itself. She should not be feared. She’s a very, very spiritual woman."
Let’s see, a Bishop makes his view known and Chittister is still going to be speaking, so exactly how is that censorship? I guess a shepard crying out against wolves coming to devour their flock is also censorship. So I guess what she wanted was the bishop to shut up about this, and of course that wouldn’t be censorship.
"Sure, she challenges various things within the church, but then so do a great number of other people. Jesus challenged the leaders of his religious era," said O’Regan.
Yes when you can’t defend something that goes against the authority of Church teaching you say something like that. Jesus challenged those who diluted the scriptures and taught doctrines of men. Women’s ordination and contraception are settled teaching. When Jesus told the Apostles "He who hears you hears me" and gave Peter the power to bind and loose he meant this also for Sr. Chittister and those like her who consider disobedience to the Church a virtue.
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