Pagan to Present Lecture

By Fr LW Gonzales On February 6th, 2009

“Gay-Friendly” Miami Archdiocese Features Goddess-Worshipping Nun at Diocesan University

By LexEtLibertas


February 5, 2009, ( – Just days after the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI has ordered an apostolic visitation of all non-contemplative women’s religious orders in the United States, LifeSiteNews has learned that a notorious Catholic dissenter, known for her promotion of goddess-worship and “eco-spirituality,” is scheduled to speak at the Miami Archdiocese’s Saint Thomas University.

Sr. Miriam Therese MacGillis, O.P will be presenting a lecture, “Cosmology, Faith, & Sustainability,” at Saint Thomas, on 24 February.

Many lay Catholics have documented Sister Miriam’s dissent from official Catholic doctrine on various matters. Sister Miriam is an active proponent of so-called “eco-spirituality,” a quasi-pantheistic religious movement recently chronicled in some detail in Sarah McFarland Taylor’s book “Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology.” Taylor, an Episcopalian sympathetic to the eco-spiritual movement, has chronicled this heterodox belief system, and her book features Sister Miriam MacGillis and the community she co-founded, Genesis Farm.

Pioneered by dissenter Fr. Thomas Berry, eco-spirituality seeks to counteract a perceived “hyper-anthropocentrism” (man-centeredness) of the traditional Judeo-Christian creation story. According to “Christian” eco-spiritualists, all of creation forms a cosmic unity, and human beings are not at its pinnacle. The entire universe is the “body of God,” and eco-spiritual religious sisters’ worship routine is permeated with non-Catholic religious rites which invoke God and the Earth under various feminist invocations. Eco-spiritualists frequently mimic Catholic sacraments and devotions like the Eucharist and the Stations of the Cross, with their distinctly Christian content removed and replaced with devotions to Mother Earth.

Sister Miriam has been affiliated with Call to Action, long-considered the “mother” of dissenting Catholic organizations. Call to Action endorses divorce and remarriage, homosexualism, abortion, contraception, the complete democratization of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy and doctrine, and moral and theological relativism. The Vatican has censured Call to Action, and its members have been excommunicated in at least one US Catholic diocese.

The website of Sister Miriam’s Genesis Farm features virtually no mention of Jesus Christ or Christianity, and its links page features the website of the pro-abortion Women’s Environment & Development Organization. (See:

Sister Miriam’s upcoming lecture is featured on the website of Saint Thomas University, and is also advertised in the latest pastoral bulletin issued by the Miami Archdiocese to all its priests.

Saint Thomas University and the Miami Archdiocese are not new to scandal and wide-spread theological dissent, both of which have been chronicled in some detail by popular Catholic columnist Matt Abbott. Saint Thomas University, along with Miami’s Catholic Barry University, is listed as “Gay-Friendly” in a directory published by the Conference of Catholic Lesbians; the same organization lists two of the Miami Archdiocese’s parishes, Saint Anthony and Saint Maurice, as “gay-friendly.”

In 2007, LifeSiteNews reported Barry University’s awarding of a theology award to another notorious goddess-worshipping feminist Dominican nun. That award was also advertised by the Miami Archdiocese in a pastoral bulletin.

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8 Responses to “Pagan to Present Lecture”

  1. She must be related to Sister Joyce Rupp.

  2. Good God, she’s a Dominican. We need to clean house!

  3. For the past 35 years I’ve always been a proud graduate of St. Thomas University, (then Biscayne College back in 1974, the year of my graduation.) I’ve also been a writer for a diocesan newspaper (Catholic Observer, Springfield, MA), contribute regular posts to the Coming Home Network International Forum and just started a new socially conservative/fiscally liberal blog,
    To be perfectly frank, I’m embarrassed that I feel any sense of obligation to list these activities, but I put them down to more or less “draw a line” between a very once loyal alum and the disheartened man I’ve become upon reading about this nun’s planned appearence at STU later this month.

    Getting a shock like this must be my “penance” for having my head stuck in beach sand too long. It should stand to reason that a university owned by an Archdiocese wouldn’t allow something like this to happen, much less what I also was able to quickly glance at on the Google list of STU related stories. I had originally looked to if any interesting abortion lectures or debates occured. This is a heck of an eye- opener for starters.

    What an embittered sense of ironic humor, it’s not hard to snicker when while recalling how scared we were to be caught with girls and beer in our dorm rooms back in my days by the priests. Well. Don’t those memories seem quaint today. Parents would be delighted nowadays to learn that if their kids are getting out of line, at least they’re taking a straight path to get there.

    Sr. Miriam’s certainly free to risk getting in trouble with the Vatican all she wants. It’s a free country and nobody’s going to stop her. Evidently the same order of St. Thomas Aquinas doesn’t see it necessary to pull her in for a “come to Jesus” session on the carpet. This means she has the freedom to take her message to the world — within reasonable limits. One of them for sure ought to be that she never is allowed to speak to any lecture assembly using a Catholic house of worship. (I’m covering all bases here; cathedrals, basilicas, parishes and chapels.)

    Secondly, she should be banned outright from speaking at any institution calling itself a Catholic university. She knows what the boundaries of the Faith are. Or at least she should. If not, well Dominican heads should roll from the top down. Diocesan or in Miami’s case, Archdiocesan chancery officials ought to be dragged in for a good reminder of the basics of Catholicism and Dr. Joseph Iannone, head of STU’s “theology department” ought to be FIRED for bringing this heretic to speak at the campus.

    It’s one thing for her to rant her heresies at nearby Miami-Dade Comm. College or some other secular hall, but not at STU or Barry University, and I don’t give a rip if it’s still run by the Dominicans who ran it when I attended STU.

  4. Although I had understandable reasons for being upset with STU’s decision to invite this controversial (to say the least) Dominican nun to speak, I went too far in saying Dr. Iannone should’ve lost his job (unless, of course, incidents like this have happened before.) Then it’s time to start asking a lot tougher questions. My apologies to him, your readers and STU. However, this remains a situation worth bearing considerable observation.

  5. Mr. Barnett:

    Indeed, this is not the first time Dr. Iannone has been up to these shenanigans. See:

  6. Interesting, Sr. Joyce Rupp is scheduled to come for a day retreat at a church in the Dallas diocese. we’d like prevent her from coming. Any information on her that we can bring to the pastors involved or suggestions on stopping the so-called retreat.

  7. From the June 2008 issue of The new Oxford Review:

    by Ginger Hutton

    Before lunch at my retreat with Sister Joyce Rupp, I automatically lifted my hand to my forehead to make the sign of the cross. That’s when I realized that in this retreat for Catholics in a Catholic parish, led by a Catholic sister, the sign of the cross had never been made. Not once. Over the course of seven hours, it never was. Although I had come to the retreat with serious concerns about Sr. Rupp’s spiritual philosophy, I was still shocked by such a blatant omission. As it turns out, I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

    Servite Sister Joyce Rupp is a popular author and retreat director who receives over 400 requests for retreats annually. The 20 retreats she grants each year are almost always given for capacity crowds of several hundred. She holds a masters degree in religious education from St Thomas University in Houston, and has worked in catechetics and education for most of her life. On the basis of these credentials, she is a regular speaker at some of the largest and most influential catechetical conferences in the country, including the National Catholic Education Association and Roger Cardinal Mahony’s massive Archdiocesan Catechetical Congress in Los Angeles.

    After chanting for a while, the retreatants were told to imagine a door and to imagine that “Emmanuel, God with Us” was knocking at the door. We were supposed to visualize opening the door as we chanted, “Oh, I open to you. I open to you, ” inviting God to come into our life.

    Next we were to visualize our “deepest, truest self,” and invite that self into our life. Obviously, in reality, an individual has only one self, but even if Sr. Rupp meant to distinguish between the image we show to the world and the person we know ourselves to be, there remain problems with this. She is assuming the “self’ we “really are” is a better one than the one we present to the world, which, in fact, is rarely the case. After imagining this multiplicity of selves, we continued to visualize various people-a loved one, an enemy, the poor-and in each case to open the doorwhile chanting, “Oh, I open to you. I open to you.”

    The intended message was that we should welcome others as we welcome Christ Nevertheless, the form was very problematic. Clearly, since she called this chant the “opening prayer,” Sr. Rupp sees this as prayer. But in using precisely the same imagery, the same words, the same chant, whetherwe are visualizing God, ourselves, or other people, what were we really doing? It is quite impossible to argue that we were not treating the Creator and the creatures as equals, blurring the very real distinction between the two. To do this in the context of prayer not only fails to recognize the transcendence of God, and fails to give Him the worship He is due as Creator, but it is dangerously dose to idolatry.

    It seemed to me that such prayer could only flow from a Christology that emphasizes the humanity of Christ nearly to the exclusion of His divinity. Sr. Rupp quickly confirmed that perception. Almost immediately after the opening prayer, she quoted Karl Rahner, speaking of Christ “entering so much into our normality that we can hardly now pick you [Christ] out from other human beings.” After stating correctly that Jesus is fully human in all things but sin, she failed to affirm that He was also fully divine. Instead, she said, “We see godness in Jesus. We can also see godness in us.” Though the quest to see “godness” in ourselves occupied the rest of the afternoon, the godness of Jesus was not deemed worthy of further discussion.

    As an example, one need look no further than Sr. Rupp’s treatment of Mary. In a truly ludicrous refusal to use Catholic terminology, we were told that Mary’s womb was “a container for Christ,” which has to be the least attractive way of speaking of Mary as tabernacle that I have ever heard. Making Mary sound like a Chinese takeout box is annoying, but Sr. Rupp’s misunderstanding of Mary’s relationship to Jesus is far more alarming. In speaking of Mary’s response to the Annunciation, Sr. Rupp betrays a very limited understanding of what “full of grace” means. Sister says that Mary is “every parent whose child’s values are very different from her own.. .every person questioning how to receive someone in their life who is difficult or different from themselves.” This is completely at odds with what the Catechism says of Mary and the Annunciation: “Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with Him and dependent on him, by God’s grace” (#494). The absence of original sin in Mary means that she certainly shared her Child’s'Values”!

    In mentioning original sin and how Sr. Joyce misunderstands it, we come to the heart of the matter, the unifying error that explains every errant idea and mistaken way of praying that marked this retreat. Simply put, transpersonal psychology, which is inimical to Christianity, is poisoning the whole of her work This influence appeared in a clear and disturbing manner when she discussed her concept of the soul. She said correctly, “I think our soul is the essence of who we are,” but then went wrong when she stated, “It’s our core goodness…. No matter what happens in our life, we have this essence of goodness, which is our soul. Our spirit really is our personality, that brings our soul to life, that brings it into being and is present in our world.” What was being presented here is the transpersonal rather than Christian concept of the human person. Rather than viewing the person as the unity of body and soul, where the state of the soul and the actions of the body are intimately linked, we are offered an idea of the soul as an inherent inner good, more or less expressed through the actions of the body. In other words, the state of the soul is not affected by our actions. Sr. Rupp made this clear when she spoke of salvation: “We don’t talk about our soul nearly enough in the Church. We talk about saving our soul. Our soul doesn’t need saving, it’s all the crazy things we do as human beings that need saving, but our soul doesn’t need saving. Our soul is united to God at every moment That’s our core essence. And we just need to believe that We are bom with an amazing soul.” This is an outright denial of the Church’s doctrine that we are bom with original sin and require the saving act of Christ on the cross transmitted to us in the Sacrament of Baptism to make us adopted children of God. Christ Himself stated that no one would enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he was bom of water and the spirit (Jn. 3:5), and the Catechism calls original sin “the ‘reverse side’ of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation, and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ” (#389).

    Sr. Rupp’s retreat is a living example of that truth. In denying that our souls need to be saved, Sister strips the Incarnation of its meaning. We were left with a Christ no more significant than ourselves, no more in possession of “godness” than we are. Which leads one to ask Why should we worship Him differently than we worship ourselves, if we are essentially just as worthy of worship, just as perfect as He is? How could we possibly understand the unique place of Mary if we are all free of original sin? And why would we make the sign of the cross (at the retreat we didn’t)? The cross is significant because by it through Christ’s willing sacrifice, the way of salvation is opened for us. It is there that we are freed from oursins. To quote Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life: “In Christianity salvation is not an experience of self, a meditative and intuitive dwelling within oneself, but much more the forgiveness of sin, being lifted out of profound ambivalences in oneself and the calming of nature by the gift of communion with a loving God. The way of salvation is not found simply in a self-induced transformation of consciousness, but in a liberation from sin and its consequences which then leads us to struggle against sin in ourselves and in the society around us” (#4).

    If we have no need of salvation, we have no need of Christ and His cross. The omission of the sign of the cross from Sr. Rupp’s retreat is consistent with her philosophy, which has at key points entirely departed from Christian doctrine. This does not prevent Sr. Rupp, however, from trying to maintain the appearance of Christianity. Having denied the need for salvation, she then attempts to give her views respectability by referencing St Teresa of �vila, a Doctor of the Church. Sr. Rupp presents St Teresa’s image of the soul as a beautiful castle to illustrate her point that the soul does not need to be saved. As with the sign of the cross, what is omitted is of critical importance. St Teresa of �vila was speaking of the soul in grace. Contrast Sr. Rupp’s ideas with St Teresa’s vision – here taken from an account by one of her confessors, quoted in the introduction to E. Allison Peers’s critical edition of St Teresa’s Interior Castle:

    “While she was wondering at this beauty, which by God’s grace can dwell in the human soul, the light suddenly vanished. Although the King of Glory did not leave the mansions, the crystal globe was plunged into darkness, became as black as coal and emitted an insufferable odour, and the venomous creatures outside the palace boundaries were permitted to enter the castle.

    “This was a vision which the holy Mother wished that everyone might see, for it seemed to her that no mortal seeing the beauty and splendour of grace, which sin destroys and changes into such hideousness and misery, could possibly have the temerity to offend God.”

    St Teresa’s Catholic vision of the soul and its need for its Savior is quite opposed to Sr. Rupp’s idea of the inherently good soul that has no need of salvation.

    How is it that Sr. Rupp is still giving retreats to Catholics or speaking in any Catholic organization? The answer lies in her masterfully insidious presentation. Although this may not be deliberate, Sr. Rupp’s work is a masterpiece of implication and omission. Most of what she says is vague enough that it can be interpreted in a Catholic way, particularly if one is not familiar with the system of thought-transpersonal psychology-that undergirds her presentation. The gravest errors – her definition of the soul and comments on salvation, for example -though obviously flawed, are touched on lightly, leaving the majority of the implications unstated. These errors are surrounded by apparent supporting evidence, such as the implication that Sr. Rupp and St Teresa agree in their assessment of the soul. To someone unfamiliar with St Teresa, this is convincing support for the Catholicity of Sr. Rupp’s ideas.

    These very moving emotional moments are surrounded by prayer and conversation designed to make participants feel affirmed. We were told repeatedly about our inner goodness and wisdom. Any inanity expressed by any of the retreatants was received by Sr. Rupp as if it were inspired truth. This sort of attention makes people feel good, that was quite obvious. And some of Sister’s advice -on relationships, on accepting others, on hospitality, on seeing Christ in the stranger-was excellent

    Thus, the retreatants tend to dismiss the spiritual danger inherent in her presentation. They think that if the bad ideas were touched on lightly, if they weren’t the focus, if it all made one feel good about oneself and others, if it even taught a few good techniques for relationships, it does no serious harm. This is incorrect. The problem with Sr. Rupp’s retreats is not that some good ideas are mixed in with some bad ideas, but that some good ideas and positive emotions are being associated with some spiritually fatal ideas. No one would argue that a bit of cyanide should be tolerated in an otherwise excellent meal, because even a little cyanide is deadly. As St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us (Summa Theologica, II-II Q.5, A.3), when one denies even a single article of the Creed, one has lost the faith. That Christ died for our salvation is an article of the faith, stated in the Creed. To come to believe with Sr. Rupp that our souls have no need of salvation is to lose what is essential to Christianity, to lose the faith – and that is the spiritual equivalent of swallowing poison. It is a poison that Sr. Joyce Rupp should not be permitted to spread.

    Ginger Hutton, a convert to Catholicism, is a freelance writer whose column “Obsessions” appears in The East Tennessee Catholic, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Knoxville.

  8. Thank you Tom for the retreat story, that lets me into the activities so I can share this before the event happens. I’ve also learned much more about Rupp and her servite order. See for connections to the class list Rupp and her order are teaching/sponsoring and those offered at a womens retreat Rupp participates in — way out stuff!!! There is also her “acceptance speech” for the 2004 US Catholic award in which she tears down the Catholic Church. I didn’t realize (or may not know to the full) the extent of the damage she is causing.
    It is a shame. I pray the investigation into the religious orders by Pope Benedict XIV is successful in reforming or eliminating such crazy orders.

    She and others like her are misleading innocent women and bringing them way off track.