Performance of graphic feminist play upsets archbishop

.- Loyola University students staged the "The Vagina Monologues" this week, drawing public rebuke from Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans. In a written statement Wednesday, Archbishop Hughes said the play is "contrary to sound Catholic teaching and does not advance the important questions about women, human sexuality, violence against women and the common good, which it proposes to address." Last year, the Jesuit school’s interim president prevented the staging.

The current president, Fr. Kevin Wildes, recognized the controversy surrounding the work and the fact that its language may offend some people, however, he commended the play for raising important issues, "particularly about sexual violence toward women."

He said in a letter Monday that the university was not endorsing everything in the play, but the play “has provoked a good deal of conversation among women and has helped them to name the dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors which reduce them to secular objects.”

"The Vagina Monologues" was written by Eve Ensler, based on interviews with more than 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality.

About 10 students delivered the graphic soliloquies about sexual encounters, including several accounts of sexual abuse and violence, during the one-night performance Feb. 14.

The play was produced by the university's Women's Resource Center, along with the Women's Issues Organization and the Drama Honor Society, and raised $2,500 for a facility for battered women.

Thirty Catholic universities plan to offer the play this year, according to the Cardinal Newman Society. The University of Notre Dame also staged the play this week, not for the first time. The Catholic University of America, a Vatican-chartered institution, will not stage it.


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