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Saturday, March 21, 2009

EWC stands in solidarity with Ruth Kolpack

For immediate release:

Episcopal Women’s Caucus stands in solidarity with Ruth Kolpack

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus joins with our sisters and brothers of faith around the world who stand in solidarity with Ruth Kolpack, pastoral associate since 1995 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, Wisconsin, who was fired earlier this month for what Madison Bishop Robert Morlino called Kolpack's "feminist views" after a 10-minute meeting with her. During the meeting, Kolpack was allowed no opportunity to defend herself, nor did she have a chance to face or respond to those who had accused her.

Kolpack was fired after she came under criticism for her thesis “Inclusive Language for Naming God: Challenge for the Church,” which was undertaken in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Divinity Degree at St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, Wis., 2003.

Bishop Morlino, who has admitted to reading ‘bits and pieces” of the 51 page document, asked Kolpack to denounce the thesis, make a profession of faith, and take an oath of loyalty in order to remain as a pastoral associate at the parish.

She said she could profess her faith and take an oath, but could not refute the thesis in good conscience, that to do so would risk her reputation as a scholar.

We agree wholeheartedly with Kolpack’s assessment that, “no language is adequate for naming or describing God,” adding that, “We can use only metaphors based on what we know about God and yet all the metaphors we employ will not exhaust the description of God. When we limit the metaphors used for God, we make the metaphors our idols.”

We encourage everyone to join us in solidarity with Ruth Kolpack and write to Bishop Morlino at:

Diocese of Madison
Catholic Pastoral Center
702 South High Point Road
P.O. Box 44983
Madison, Wisconsin 53719

National Catholic Reporter stories:

Wisconsin parish worker fired for feminist views:

Kolpack’s letter to her parishioners explaining her dismissal

Madison’s Morlino noted for orthodoxy, controversy

‘Free God language’: fired parish worker’s thesis


(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton
President, Episcopal Women’s Caucus
973 464 8018 (cell)

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus is a justice organization dedicated to Gospel values of equality and liberation and committed to the incarnation of God’s unconditional love.




Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Just as soon as I get a proper address, the EWC is sending Ruth some flowers. We figure after all the crap she's been through, she'll need some beauty in her life. I'll post it here when I get it.

I'd love it if you were able to do the same.

The email address I have for her is

rkolpack at st thomas beloit dot org

The rector at St. Thomas' is

skortendick at st thomas beloit dot org

The diocesan communications officers are:

wyallay at straphael dot org

bking at straphael dot org

FranIAm said...

Elizabeth - wow. This just causes me to weep and weep. Thank you for your words and your actions.

FranIAm said...

Please post this petition too...

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, thank you for putting flesh on the gospel. This post is good news.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

This just SO bites. Renounce your thesis? I bet there are plenty of devout RC scholars who wish it was THEIR thesis!

IT said...

Didn't the RC learn anything from the Galileo

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Unfortunately, IT, the RC hierarchy doesn't think it needs to learn anything. They know it all.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Send Ruth our love and respect!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

THANK YOU to everyone who signed or will sign.

Muthah+ said...

Signed, of course.

The RC's stood with us when we began ordaining women in '77. It is time to stand with them in this reactionary time. This is what +Spong calls the last gasp of patriarchy.

The really funny part of all of this is that if he had just been quiet about it, Ruth's message would have been quite contained. Ain't always so. When the righteous are marytered, their story is what is remembered.

Alex said...

If the EWC wants to "stand with Ruth Kolpack," maybe they should help her find a job at an Episcopal church.

I agree that she needed to be fired from St. Thomas, because she refused to pledge to do the job she was hired to do. But I also hope she finds a new job soon. Perhaps the Episcopal church is a better fit.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Urm, Alex, she was not fired because she "refused to do the job she was hired to do". She was fired because she refused to denounce her academic thesis. Obviously, the RC Church's apology to Galileo was bogus.