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Cardinal Seán O’Malley has been a courageous defender of the truth about the human person in a culture where Church teachings on life, family, and sexuality are, to say the least, unpopular. He has never wavered, but his voice has always been gentle and compassionate.
A bishop is the shepherd of the flock, a prophetic voice to the world. One would hope that his words would be respected by those in the Church and at least considered respectfully by those outside its communion. Unfortunately, when it comes to issues involving the teachings of the Church on women, the words of a man--even a wise, compassionate, gentle man, who only seeks to explain unchangeable truth--are often dismissed as patriarchal and sexist.
The Catholic Church has been one of the few institutions that over the centuries has respected the prophetic voices of women. Today more than ever, when Church teachings are being challenged, and particularly in those areas involving motherhood, marriage and sexuality, people need to hear the voices of laywomen who believe that the Church’s teachings--even the unpopular ones--are unequivocally pro-woman. Cardinal O’Malley has in his wisdom understood this and has therefore encouraged the collaboration of men and women in the defense of the faith, of life and of marriage.
For 20 years I have as a laywoman devoted myself to defending controversial Church teachings in the public square. Cardinal O’Malley, as bishop of Fall River, then archbishop and now cardinal, has given me unfailing encouragement and support. He reprinted my articles in the Fall River diocese’s paper and asked me to write for The Pilot. He has stood behind me when my research was challenged. He has given unfailing support to the true defense of women.
These are tough times, particularly in Massachusetts, and we are indeed fortunate to have a cardinal who is truly a model for all bishops.
Thank you Cardinal O’Malley.
Dale O’Leary is the author of “The Gender Agenda” and “One Man, One Woman.”