Friday, October 19, 2018

Liz McCloskey Has Something To Say

By Liz McCloskey

There are times when I am not sure a point I want to make, or a story I want to tell, is worth telling.  “My two cents” is a way of prefacing something and indicating that it may not be worth much, but here it is anyway. By saying “If you want my two cents,” I am as good as acknowledging that the other probably doesn’t (want my two cents), but at the same time I am going to go ahead and give it, and who knows—they may be surprised at how much it adds, and I may be too. 

In the past few months, I have attended parish listening sessions hosted by my Jesuit parish in Washington, DC. There parishioners are given the opportunity to express our anger and betrayal stirred by the sexual abuse inflicted by trusted clerics, the years of shameful secrecy by church leaders, the silencing of survivors and the deep and abiding pain they bear. Though grateful for the opportunity to be heard, there are many who express at these listening sessions a sense of powerlessness and defeat under the crushing weight of the still unfolding sex abuse scandal.  Some people will conclude, and many have already concluded, that the clericalism, patriarchy and hierarchical structure of the Church are too deeply entrenched for our two cents to make any kind of dent in it.  Many of you are women who have stayed, who are determined to stay and who have something to say, despite those daunting obstacles, and you inspire me.

Jesus does not turn away from us, or turn us away.  He not only invites our two cents, but he affirms it—not as a meager offering, but as a powerful contribution.  We belong in the sanctuary, Jesus proclaims; we are encouraged to bring our whole selves. You can hear this invitation in the Gospel reading from Mark for this coming November 11, when the American bishops will begin gathering in Baltimore for their fall assembly. 

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
"Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation."

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood."

A little over 500 years ago, Martin Luther saw the corruption rampant in the Catholic Church. He loved the church and desired to bring some of its scandalous practices to light, so he posted 95 Theses in the hopes of ushering in changes. In that spirit, a group of women and men adds our two cents (and our 5 Theses) to the voices calling for reform of our church in light of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.  We plan to bring these 5 Theses to the bishops’ attention as they prepare to meet in Baltimore, November 12-15. 

I invite you to do the same. Post the following 5 Theses on your church or cathedral door, or place them in the offertory collection with 2 cents taped to it, or mail them in a letter to your own bishop or archbishop or cardinal. Or develop your own list of priorities, or add to this one.

We are in the process of developing postcard size versions, with artwork, of these 5 Theses, that you can print and distribute. For more information, you can email 

Many thanks for the invitation to share my two cents with you.


Out of love for our Catholic Church and a desire to reform it, we Catholic women and men defend the following steps as necessary actions for the bishops of the United States.  We urge our bishops to resolve at their fall 2018 assembly in Baltimore to take these actions or to dispute them with us in the form of an open letter by the first day of the coming liturgical year, December 2, 2018.   In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

1.   Full transparency:  Release the names of clergy in every diocese found by internal processes to be abusers. Pledge to fully cooperate, without question and without qualification, with all new and ongoing investigations initiated by Attorneys General, local prosecutors, and any other law enforcement bodies, especially when evidence points to abuse by clerics and negligence by those with responsibility over them. 
2.   Survivors’ Voices: Create and publicize a permanent and prominent place in every issue of every diocesan newspaper in the country for survivors of clergy sexual abuse to share their stories.
3.   Simple Living: As a symbolic gesture of the commitment to dismantle clericalism, shed the royal raiment and regalia of the episcopate, wearing the plain black garb and liturgical vestments of a parish priest and spending time in service to the poor and marginalized for the coming liturgical year.
4.   Put Women in Church Leadership: Ask Pope Francis to restore women to the ordained diaconate, to include women as voting members at meetings of the synod of bishops, to reopen the discussion of women’s ordination, and to name women as cardinals at the next consistory and at every consistory going forward until a balance is achieved.
5.   Pray for a Reformed Church:  Require every parish in every diocese to include this prayer, or one based on it, every Sunday in the prayers of the faithful during the next three liturgical years: 

“That from this community of gathered people will rise a new church:  a church that protects the abused and the marginalized, ministering to all in search of healing, a church that strives continually to overcome every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on gender, race, color, social condition, sexual orientation, language or religion, in order to pave the way for a new future of joy and hope . . . we pray to the Lord.”

                                                                November 2018

******* ******************
Elizabeth Leibold McCloskey (Liz) found St. Francis Xavier and the Women Who Stayed via the National Catholic Reporter, which inspired her--along with Catholic author Alice McDermott--to help organize the DC Chapter for Feminism and Faith in Union in January, 2018. Liz is so grateful for the example of the Women Who Stayed of Xavier, and finds being connected to such communities life-giving and hopeful.  Xavier also has a special place in her heart because her father, Peter, and her uncle, Joe McCloskey--who was a Jesuit priest--attended Xavier high school. Liz joined the Jesuit parish in DC, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, about a year ago, and has recently become involved in the parish by co-facilitating a feminist bible study, training to be a spiritual director, and joining the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) women's team in DC —a prayer and retreat program for formerly homeless women in recovery which combines the Twelve Steps with Ignatian spirituality.
Liz has a PhD from Catholic University and an MA from Yale Divinity School. She is past President of The Faith & Politics Institute, a nonprofit organization that seeks to bridge the divides of race, party and religion on Capitol Hill, and years ago was a columnist for Commonweal magazine.  Liz and her husband Peter live part-time in St. Louis, Missouri. Their permanent home is in Virginia; their spiritual home is in Ireland. They also love to visit their four interesting and funny adult children (a daughter, two sons, and one daughter-in-law) who are pursuing vocations in poetry, medicine, the study of psychology, and professional running in various parts of the country. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Liz, thanks. Powerful action of Hope.
    We are “in the room” (Hamilton) and speak up. The challenge will be to speak truth to power and stay free of expectations ( which creates bitter anger). Approve of 5theses.
    Last words: new wine doesn’t work in old wine skins. Jean Sweeney

  3. Thank you for sharing these, Aunt Liz, for taking part in leading this charge! I am moved and will share these as far and wide as I can.

  4. Liz, Was just about to contact you to put me on any list you have. Only heard about the January 2018 gathering after the fact. The five points convey exactly my position. Onward and God bless, Marie

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Amen, Liz. Well said.
    Ann Farrell Pulliam

  7. I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the difficulty is one thing that not sufficient people are talking intelligently about. I am very completely satisfied that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing referring to this. casino online