Statement by Bishop P. Francis Murphy, auxiliar...


November 30, 1992

FROM A statement by Bishop P. Francis Murphy, auxiliar bishop of Baltimore, in response to the vote earlier this month of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to table its nine-year effort to write a pastoral letter on women's concerns:

"During this past decade of personal discernment in exercising my own responsibility as pastor and teacher, I have found Pope Paul VI's definition of tradition in a letter to Archbishop LeFevre very helpful. He said: 'Tradition is a living reality and not just the material reaffirmation of the past as it was.'

"Through [this] process . . . we have learned that the issues are still in need of deeper reflection by us and between us and scholars. It is premature to make definitive, authoritative judgments involving topics which are still under intense scrutiny by scholars of many disciplines. In light of the pastoral letter's condemnation of sexism as a social and moral evil, it is especially urgent that sexism in all its institutional manifestations be more fully examined and determined efforts made to redress injustices against women. Sexism represents a three-fold injustice: to women, who are denied their rightful place in the human community; to men, who are stunted in their potential for full growth; and to the community as a whole, whose life is impoverished by the diminishment of both women and men.

"The vote against the pastoral letter sends a signal that bishops have listened to women and men who have spoken so openly and candidly to us. I believe our vote not to approve the Fourth Draft can be seen as an honest acknowledgment of the need for more dialogue and the guidance of the Spirit in addressing the serious disagreements which remain among us."

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