Sister Joan Chittister on prayer, the pope and women in the Catholic Church

'In God's Holy Light' by Joan Chittister
'In God's Holy Light' by Joan Chittister
Courtesy of Franciscan Media

Joan Chittister is a writer, human rights advocate and a Roman Catholic nun.

On Pope Francis's recent visit to the U.S., she penned an open letter to him, writing:

It is impossible, Holy Father, to be serious about doing anything for the poor and at the same time do little or nothing for women.

Her letter called for the leader of the Catholic Church to address the plight of women around the world, who suffer disproportionately from poverty and violence. Women, Chittister wrote, "are ignored — rejected — as full human beings, as genuine disciples, by their churches, including our own."

Chittister joined MPR News' Kerri Miller to discuss her call for change, and her new book, "In God's Holy Light: Wisdom for the Desert Monastics."

Her criticism on the lack of women in power goes beyond religion and into politics. "How can you have any meeting on any major issue on the planet, and not have an equal number of women there?" Chittister asked.

If the issue goes unaddressed, Chittister predicts that the Catholic Church's numbers will continue to fall.

"You have women leaving churches in droves. In the 60s and 70s, they protested, they wrote, they lobbied, they marched — they're not doing that anymore. They're not even bothering, they're just disappearing," Chittister said.

Chittister's new book centers on the Desert Monastics, a group of monks and nuns who lived in Egypt 1,500 years ago. Devout believers, they moved to the desert to avoid anything that could distract them from God. Chittister explores their ancient traditions and explores how their wisdom applies to a modern spiritual life.

To hear the full interview with Sister Joan Chittister and MPR News' Kerri Miller — on prayer, science, faith and spirituality — use the audio player above.

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