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Catholic Group Says Women’s Conference Promoting Witchcraft

March 1, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ Witchcraft is creeping onto college campuses, says a Catholic group that has asked Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to condemn a roving conference celebrating stages in women’s lives.

The day-long conference titled ″Her Holiness - Maiden, Mother, Crone,″ being held at Catholic colleges in the Chicago area, is sponsored by Limina, an Oak Park, Ill.-based non-profit educational group for women.

Limina says the conference is a merely a festival of womanhood, but Catholics for Responsible Action says it’s promoting witchcraft and paganism.

″According to Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus, Page 186, crone means hag - witch,″ said Judy Keane, spokeswoman for the group, which she described as a Chicago-based organization of 2,000 supporting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

″This is very disturbing to our community, Catholic and non-Catholic alike,″ said Ms. Keane, who wrote this week to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin asking him to speak out against the conference.

The Catholic Archdiocese in Chicago hasn’t taken any action in the matter, said spokeswoman Sister Joy Clough, who said she didn’t know if Bernardin planned to get involved.

″We certainly have no problem as an archdiocese for women to explore their spirituality,″ she said. ″I would doubt very much that they’re promoting witchcraft.″

The conference involves skits, slide shows and costs $45 to attend. It has nothing to do with witchcraft, said Lil Lewis, a Catholic theologian and founder of Limina.

The conference’s title refers to ″the three cycles of women’s lives,″ she said in a telephone interview Friday.

Ms. Lewis said the complaints from Catholics for Responsible Action were based solely on a brochure advertising the conference. ″They’ve never been to one of our events,″ she said.

″This outfit is a pain in the scribble because they are so bloody narrow,″ Ms. Lewis said. ″They look at the word crone as a witch.″

Limina prefers an old Anglo-Saxon definition of the word as a wise, witty older woman, Ms. Lewis said.

The conference was held in January at Northwestern University’s Catholic center and is scheduled to be held at DePaul, Mundelein, and Rosary colleges between March 15 and June 22.

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