Jesuits and Women: Helen Alvaré to America!

Hey, I was just joking when, on April 1, I said the Jesuits were about to admit women into the Society. Still, I was pleased yet tickled yesterday to get a press release announcing that Helen Alvaré would be joining the team over at America, as a contributing columnist.

This is, by any estimation, “a good get” for America; it demonstrates the commitment of Editor-in-Chief Matt Malone, to move away from the bubbles, labels and the intellectual/ideological ghettos that we Catholics too often build amidst all the beauty. The move emphasizes a desire to more forcefully and inclusively engage with the world, and to pursue the truth in love.

Editor in Chief of America, Fr. Matt Malone, S.J., announced today the appointment of Helen Alvaré as America’s newest contributing columnist in print and online.

“The appointment of Helen Alvaré is part of our continuing commitment to leading the conversation about faith and culture in the United States,” said Father Malone, “and to include more voices of women in our pages and a greater variety of voices from the Catholic world. Ms. Alvare’s scholarship and advocacy are well known and universally respected in the Catholic community.”

An accomplished public figure, Ms. Alvaré is currently a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She also serves as chair of the Catholic Women’s Forum, as a consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity, an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and as an ABC news consultant. She cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations on matters concerning women and the family.

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, is declaring that Alvaré has gone over to the dark side by aligning herself with Jesuits; I’m equally certain that in another corner someone is muttering that America is selling out by bringing in a voice guaranteed to mention abortion and contraception more than is “seemly”.

Both must be disabused of their illusions. This is just people of faith people coming together, probably not in precise lockstep, (they are, after all, Catholic, so there will be noise and messes) yet nevertheless talking, teaching, exploring and sharing their faith from disparate perspectives, because the nature of the church is catholic.

Which is precisely why the labels must go. Our Catholic bloggers here at Patheos do not use them because, frankly, labels don’t work within Catholicism. Mark Shea seems like a raving “conservative” to some, until suddenly he is denouncing Republican budgets and doing battle against the idea of torture. Max Lindenman comes off like a tradition-smashing iconoclast until you realize he is going to confession more than most of us and still figuring it out, and being open to church teachings even when they rankle. Rebecca Hamilton is a Democrat representative for her state who is passionately pro-life, and just as passionately all-for the poor. Lisa Hendey is a great champion of Catholic Mom-hood who is making us all look good and hard at the horror of Rwanda. Our newbie, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry prefers a Latin Mass, but he brings no sentiment to it as he demands that we look at our own sins, as a church, against others

I myself have been called a “Roman stooge” and a “canned-Catholic” even as I’ve argued that our faithful homosexual priests should be acknowledged.

In the same way, one writer at America may have one idea; another may take a different view; it doesn’t really matter, in the end, where the perspective originates, or how it is formed. What matters is that we move forward together, in good faith and in the love of Christ, toward a shared hope of the restoration we are promised.

Congrats, Matt Malone and America; well done. Congrats, Helen Alvaré; you’ll be a great addition.

Now…about my idea of female Jesuits: I look very good in black; it’s slimming.

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jen

    I love this. I have a thing for the Jesuits – even when I don’t agree with them I really appreciate what they bring to the Church. It is always great to see some diversity in the staff of religious magazines.


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