By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Well, Sally Field must be aghast. How could even her bird’s-eye view have predicted the over the top report from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Once the province of current Pope Benedict, the watchdog of orthodoxy that took such a hands-off approach to the child sexual molestation within the priesthood, has issued a stinging reprimand to all American nuns for “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
Headed by American Cardinal William Levada, the crowd that gave us the Inquisition and who tried Galileo, has ordered a crackdown on all U.S. nuns. Overseen by three
middle-aged white men American bishops, the Vatican wants the good sisters to toe the Vatican’s increasingly fundamentalist line. And what was the doctrinal crime that got the nuns in trouble? Why, their apparent heretical support for such outlandish positions as supporting universal health care under Obama’s plan, sensitivity to marriage rights for gays, and –God forbid it — advocating females for admission to the priesthood. They are even under scrutiny for praying for Girl Scouts.
As with other tone-deaf proclamations by the RCC, this one has produced an outpouring of support for a group of dedicated women whose average age is 69. There are about 75,000 nuns in the US — down from their heyday in 1965 when the ranks numbered about 180,000. Still this feisty few aren’t taking the recrimination sitting down.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which serves as the umbrella group for most orders of nuns, has responded with a duly obsequious statement but armed with enough teeth in it to get attention from the beanie wearing gang in Rome. “Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency,” the group said after a three-day meeting. “Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission.”
The nuns, themselves, armed with considerable support from the laity have taken to the streets. Nationwide vigils and rallies have occurred. Protestors showed up at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington D.C. (Query: Why does the Vatican need an embassy?) to register their dismay at the slightly misogynistic message implicit in the church’s smack-down. More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking the Vatican to withdraw its order.
Besides that external support, many nuns are furious at their depiction as a group of radicals. “Our sisters have fed the hungry, healed the sick and stood with the marginalized, so they’re wondering, how can these men in the Vatican criticize us?” said Donna Quinn, a nun from Chicago who helps run the liberal National Coalition of American Nuns. Submitting to the Vatican’s demands would be akin to “allowing an oppressive regime to come in with a hostile takeover,” Quinn said.
Let me state my disclaimer that I am an unabashed supporter of these fine, dedicated women. Growing up in the 60s, these dedicated women (yep, I meant it twice) were my school teachers and nurses. More than once I saw them marginalized and dismissed by parish priests who occupied an almost God-like stature in those institutions. They accepted their fate with humility and grace earning my respect. I find this church-borne slur against their character unacceptable and fraught with ingratitude. Imagine dedicating your life to improving the lives of others only to be reprimanded by your superiors for advocating a place at the all-male table?
The Vatican has been officially hush-hush in response to the burgeoning crisis in the States. Through their presumed intermediaries they are getting their licks in however. Older Americans, especially, may think of nuns as pious schoolteachers, but “times have changed and so have the sisters,” intoned Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops who supports the Vatican’s move. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was appointed by the Vatican to supervise reform of the nuns’ group took pains to praise American nuns as a “great gift.” He added that he hoped to work with them “in a way that shows our continued love and support for their extraordinary contribution.”
Sounds like the wolf praising the chickens before entering the hen-house to me.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
80 thoughts on “American Nuns Reprimanded For “Radical Feminism” By Vatican”
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/06/senate-vote-paycheck-fairness-act-equal-pay-women.php?ref=fpa Republicans block equal pay for women bill.
rafflaw, Are you going to Wisconsin tomorrow?
Great link to the Daily Beast article. That Cardinal is a dirt bag.
Good catch. I’ll make that correction.
toe the line, not tow the line
Cathedrals….just think what a little light can do….
“Blouise, What did it lead to? Am alwasys wondering about the answer from folks to that one.”
Sorry id, I’ve lost track of the thread. What did what lead to? Point me in the right direction and I’ll do my best to answer.
It engenders a nice mindfullness of being at the first preachings. I wonder if Christians feel the same when having communion.
Also, returning to architecture. Catholic Cathedrals have architectural elements that have meaning. Since we’re talking about columns representing date palms in Islam; in Catholicism, cathedrals always (are supposed) to have twelve columns…representing the 12 disciples holding up the church.
I’m marrying into a Catholic family very soon, I converted recently…somewhat reluctantly and somewhat half heartedly. Unfortunately my fiance is very devout and any questioning of the Church I do is responded to very poorly.
In everything I’ve learned the main line of questioning that comes up in my mind is ‘How does any of this related to Jesus?’
I’m confounded when so much emphasis in Mass is put on Communion and little on Jesus’ teachings… To me, the whole notion of false idols becomes an issue…we worship Jesus, when it seems like what we should really be doing is worshipping his teachings.
I just don’t comprehend how the Catholic Church represents what Jesus taught, yet it claims to be everything Jesus taught.
I think he’d walk into a Cathedral today and treat it much the same way he treated the Temple back in the day.
Moral authority to do as they please….
Oh, so yeah, I looked up Kickstarter. Good idea. I had actually heard of it before, but didn’t remember its name. Some Joan of Arc could come along and organize the nuns, of course —
It’s funny, I’m thinking about all these nuns, now. Scolded by their priests for doing what Jesus would do, if reports be accurate. Well of course, because in Jesus’ day, the analogs to the priests were exactly those official power-brokers who most wanted the likes of him either under control or abandoned to their fate at the hands of the Romans. Which of course he was.
Yeah, MK, I’m with you. But I’m not a nun, not Catholic, not a leader, not hip to what “Kickstarter” means, and not really able to do much to get any “wise women” to get this show on the right road. Thinking about it makes me tired. And for some unknown reason, also makes me think of the movie “La Strada.” Hmmmph, go figure that!
Malisha, it’s not easy, but it’s probably easier than it has ever been. Just think what these nuns could do at Kickstarter!
Think what they could accomplish if they weren’t under the boot of these pedophile priests. It’s disgusting the way real progress is held up, and frustrating to see the nuns choose to continue to engage this way, wasted time, energy, resources…
It’s time for wise women to lead!
MK, I personally believe that too, but if you’re raised in the Catholic Church and you really believe in it and you go through your life that way and you take the vows, it’s just not easy to suddenly start thinking like MK or like Malisha or etc. etc.
There is not a real big well advertised “stop bullying nuns” movement catching their attention, offering them shelters, providing pastoral care and so forth. Who’s got the money for that, a bunch of poor ex-nuns?
Malisha – the nuns can create something new with the god they’re committed to and leave the Pedophile Priest Protection borg at the vatican’t stop boinking our children church.
I’m sure their god would give them kudos for that if their god is as good as they think he is.
WOW, OL, thanks for showing us that article.
“The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless.”
MK, what you say sounds logical, but it doesn’t translate into a reality-based situation for the nuns. They are women who took vows that involved the actual blessing bestowed by their GOD! They believed in the church or they wouldn’t have become nuns. They believe, for the most part, that the God and their Church are inextricably intertwined, by the word of God, not by THEIR choice. If, say, a woman understands that her husband is decreasing her ability to live as a fully free independent person, and she therefore wants to leave the marriage, OK, but what about a woman who really BELIEVES that the vows she took upon marriage were INVIOLABLE? That’s where the nuns are coming from. They can’t just turn and walk away from something they have accorded divinity to.
“Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their [the nuns’] ability to fulfill their mission.” ———- I think that is precisely the goal of the sanctions.
I would have much more respect for these nuns if they were to leave the church and create a new church of their own, based on their own beliefs according to their life experiences and leave the Old Church of the Pedophile Priests to die.
How many centuries of abuse do women and children have to endure before it occurs to them that they can create something of their own that really serves their needs, instead of providing their ongoing support of an organization that provides children for sex to these perverts.
God/Religion appears to be a smoke screen, a distraction tactic priests use so that we don’t pay attention to what happens to our children right here on earth, right now.
Very sick.The nuns are just as sick because they stay within the system and accept the authority of this proven to be Pedophile Protection Racket.
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