US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Lesley-Anne Knight dismissed? Bad news...

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

UPDATE: It's worth reading the reflections of Lesley-Anne Knight's predecessor, Duncan MacLaren, on the situation. He provides lots of useful context and makes one wonder why the Vatican has made this move..

We constantly hear rumblings that the church treats women with the same respect it treats men, we just don't ordain them. Then comes news that that the Holy See has refused the nihil obstat--essentially permission--for Lesley-Anne Knight to continue as head of Caritas Internationalis for another term. Knight was the first woman to run the organization, and its board fully endorsed her for another term.

Head over to NCRonline and read John Allen's interview with Knight, the first since the announcement. Then read US Catholic's own interview with her just after she was elected. Then tell me why we wouldn't want this woman coordinating the international charitable operations of the churches throughout the world.

Here's the thing: Some see the church's proclamation of the equality of women as pretty hollow because women can't be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. That message is hollower still when a woman of the integrity, dedication, and obvious faith of a woman such as Lesley-Anne Knight is dismissed so perfunctorily by the Holy See, in this case, the Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. Quite frankly, I'd like to see him or any other Vatican bureaucrat do better.

Like it or not, the way this plays is that the Vatican is uncomfortable with lay women in positions of real authority and influence in the church. Knight's appointment to Caritas was a great leap forward; her dismissal is a collossal mistake.