Sister Christine Schenk's book following the life of Sister Theresa Kane RSM, a woman who left an indelible mark on the soul of Catholicism will be available this month.
The title? To Speak the Truth in Love: A Biography of Therese Kane, RSM.
In 1979 Sister Theresa Kane, then-president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, was invited to offer a greeting to Pope John Paul II during his visit to the United States. She used the opportunity to ask the pope to open all the ministries of the Church to women. This riveting biography opens with that famous scene, a galvanizing moment that provoked ardent support as well as bitter criticism. During her seven years as president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union, Kane fought tirelessly for women’s equality. Because she would not desist from speaking her sisters’ truth, the Vatican tried to remove her from office. She persisted with a deep and persevering faith.
Here is a little taste of what you will find in the book.
On October 7, 1979, more than five thousand sisters were present as Theresa Kane greeted the pope during a nationally televised prayer service at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She urged him “to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women . . .” and said, “Our Church, in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons, must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all the ministries of the Church.” Her request was greeted with thunderous applause, even though only three days earlier in Philadelphia the pope had reiterated his opinion that women could never be ordained. Video of Theresa Kane’s greeting ran repeatedly throughout the day’s TV coverage, and photos of her kneeling humbly to receive the papal blessing graced front-page stories in newspapers all over the country.
Hers was the first and only voice to speak frankly and publicly about painful issues in Catholicism during the 1979 papal visit.
Her widely publicized remarks became a media tipping point that galvanized the women’s movement in the Catholic Church for decades to come. She sparked a public dialogue that gave voice to the aspirations of thousands of Catholic women and men. This is the heart of Theresa Kane’s genius. Throughout her long and productive life, she has passionately pursued the right of every person to have her or his voice heard, even those with whom she disagrees. Far from avoiding confrontation, she actually seems to relish it—but she names unpopular truths in a way that respects the dignity of those present. Her concluding address as LCWR president, “To Speak the Truth in Love” is, therefore, a fitting title for this book about a life filled with love, controversy, and no small measure of joy.
This is a must read! Through the story of Theresa Kane's life and ministry, this book documents an important period of contemporary Catholic history when Theresa Kane and so many other sisters exercised unparalleled leadership in the Catholic Church by speaking truth to power—with love, wisdom, and grace.
“An astonishing story of one woman’s moral leadership in collaboration with communities of her dedicated Sisters. The church and world are still in desperate need of such courageous speaking, born of deep faith and great kindness. Sparks fly out from this book to inspire a new generation.”–Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Distinguished Professor of Theology Emerita, Fordham University
“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so good reading a book. . . With the publication of this fine biography, it becomes undeniable, were there ever a question, that Theresa Kane personifies the best of feminine church leadership. Make that church leadership.”—Tom Fox, former NCR Editor; current NCR CEO/President
“Theresa Kane is a person remembered for the simple manner in which she engaged the ordinary experiences of her own story and, in doing so, embodied an age.”—Helen Marie Burns, RSM, former president LCWR (1988-91) and Vice President, Sisters of Mercy 1984-91, 1999-2005