Sunday, May 26, 2024

Benedictine nuns denounce NFL star for sexist remarks

Instead of pursuing a career, women should be mothers and housewives: These comments by NFL star Harrison Butker were too much even for the Benedictine nuns. 

As the internet portal "Religion Digital" reported on Thursday, the nuns emphasised in a statement published on their website that Butker's comments "do not represent the Catholic, Benedictine and humanist college" of the founding fathers, in which they had invested so much. For decades, women have been sent into the world to do great things at home and in the workplace, it said.

In his speech at the graduation ceremony of Benedictine College in Atchison in the US state of Kansas, which was co-founded by the Benedictine Sisters, Butker emphasised that women who graduate should not strive for a career and success, but should be mothers and housewives. 

In his speech, the NFL star of the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs referred to his wife, who had given up her career dream to "take on one of the most important titles of all: Housewife". 

Women are therefore told "diabolical lies" about career ambitions, he said.

Not just criticism from the nuns

Butker's comments have now also been criticised by the Benedictine nuns: "We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and the people of God, including the many women we have trained and accompanied over the past 160 years. These women have made an enormous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts of leadership, scholarship and profession," the statement reads. 

It continues: "Our community has taught young women and men not to be 'homemakers' in a limited sense, but rather to create a compassionate, gospel-centred home within themselves where they welcome others as Christ and empower them to be the best version of themselves." 

According to the statement, the Benedictines see themselves as "faithful members of the Catholic Church" who embrace and promote the values of the Gospel, St Benedict and the Second Vatican Council, as well as the teachings of Pope Francis.

However, the NFL player for this year's Superbowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs was not only criticised by the women religious. Media reports pointed out that Butker's mother, Elizabeth Keller Butker, is not a housewife but a clinical medical physicist at the Emory University School of Medicine. Butker's local bishop, James Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, however, supported him for his remarks. 

"Butker's passion for his Catholic faith and his family is beautiful and already well known. And like most people, he also has strong opinions about where we are as a church and as a nation," the chief shepherd told CNA.

The Benedictine nuns opened a school in Atchison in 1863, which was converted into a university in 1932. 

A few years earlier, Benedictine monks had opened their own school at the same location, which became a recognised liberal arts college in 1927. 

It was not until 1971 that the two institutions merged to form a Benedictine college, which is run by nuns and monks alike.