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Panel Discussion on Women in the Church at the Sheen Center

by Cathy WilkinsCategory: Updates1 Comment

Two women seated next to each other, one holding microphone - both sitting in front of poster with panelists' photos

In May, Sister Catherine Vincie, RSHM, was one of three featured panelists for the Sheen Center’s The Art of Controversy: Women and the Church, moderated by Gloria Purvis, host of The Gloria Purvis Podcast from America Media. Sister Catherine joined Susan Timoney, Associate Professor of Practice in Pastoral Theology at Catholic University of America, and Kerry Robinson, Executive Partner with the Leadership Roundtable, discussing the important role of women in the Church throughout Catholic history, the Church’s controversial vision of the “feminine ideal” and the movement to expand opportunities for women to participate more fully in Church life, ministry, and governance. Following the discussion, members of the audience were able to ask the panelists questions.

 Woman seated on left facing toward three female panelists seated facing forward - on stage, with Sheen Center blue banners on either side.

This discussion was quite timely considering the Pope’s recent changes to the rules governing the Synod that would now allow 70 non-bishop members, including priests, consecrated women, deacons and lay women and men to participate. Fifty women will be voting members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October.

Over the years, Ms. Robinson has continuously advocated for women to have more leadership roles in the Church – not for their benefit, but for the benefit of the Church. In fact, all the panelists agreed that women contribute many gifts to the Church. However, Sister Catherine emphasized that these gifts are not necessarily related to their feminine, or Marian, identity, but rather that all individuals have gifts to contribute which are unique to her or his personhood. She also shared examples from her experience teaching at a seminary where some of the students were less open to the idea of women’s full participation in the Church. She notes that women encounter barriers when they are seen as “other.” She posits that we are all People of God and should be seen in that light. Panelists also agreed that the Church is moving in the right direction as it looks to expand women’s roles in the Church and has included them in the synodal process.

Sheen Talks at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture honors the spirit of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s words and the wise counsel of G. K. Chesterton that an ugly “quarrel” should never interrupt a good “argument.” You can view a snippet of the panel discussion at

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