Nuns enrolled in an eightday retreat in June won’t be able to hear feminist Catholic author Edwina Gateley. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has barred her appearance after she refused to let her talks be taped for diocesan authorities to review.
“It’s been canceled by the bishop of Phoenix,” Gateley said Tuesday night in e-mails to supporters. “I understand this was done by one person’s complaint followed by my refusal to allow taping for the bishop.”
The English-born founder of a voluntary missionary movement and Genesis House, a mission working to aid prostitutes in Chicago, regularly speaks and writes about the feminine dimension of God and has criticized patriarchy in the Catholic Church.
She called the Phoenix diocese’s actions “the 21st century inquisition — wrong, sinful and very sad.”
On Wednesday, Bonnie Wasniewski, spokeswoman for the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley, confirmed that Gateley’s engagement had to be terminated when Gateley and the diocese reached an impasse. The center had booked and signed a contract with Gateley for the retreat, scheduled for June 1-8 on the theme “Women Called to Connect, Bond and Heal in a Broken World.” The contract, signed by both parties, stated her talks could not be taped.
Last week, diocesan spokesman Jim Dwyer said Gateley had a reputation of “not always being in accord with the church in a lot of different teachings” and the diocese was under no obligation to give her a forum “to attack what we stand for.”
Gateley, 63, said she had to protect the integrity of her work. She said her speaking material is copyrighted and contained in seven hours of CDs and she is barred, by commercial contract, from letting others tape her.
On Wednesday, Dwyer emphasized that the diocese pledged that any recordings would be used strictly for diocesan content review.
About 30 nuns from across the U.S. had signed up by Wednesday for the retreat, Wasniewski said. The center is seeking a new instructor to take Gateley’s place, but failing that, the retreat will be canceled, she said.
Gateley said the $4,000 she expected to receive from the retreat had been earmarked for tuition for her 14-year-old son’s tuition at a Catholic high school in Pennsylvania.
While she said she may consider a breach of contract lawsuit over the loss of income, she said she would reconsider that if other sponsors stepped forward to book her presentation at an alternative Valley site.