ONTD Political

Leader of 'radical' US nuns rejects Vatican criticism

7:25 am - 04/21/2012
The leader of a group of US nuns the Vatican accuses of flouting Church teaching has rejected the claims.

"I've no idea what they're talking about," Sister Simone Campbell, head of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, told the BBC.

"Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of society. That's all we do."

On Wednesday the Vatican announced a crackdown on US nuns long considered too liberal by the church hierarchy.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition, issued a highly critical report that accused US nuns of engaging in "corporate dissent" and of ignoring, or worse, challenging the church's teachings on abortion, homosexuality and an all-male priesthood.

'Radical feminist themes'

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents 80% of America's 57,000 nuns, was the subject of a lengthy of investigation led by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio.

The resulting report noted the good work they did with the poor and in running schools and hospitals, but also documented what it called a "grave" doctrinal crisis.

It said the sisters were promoting radical feminist themes and criticised US nuns for challenging the bishops, who it said were "the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals".

The Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, is to lead a reform of the LCWR.

This will include a review of ties between it and its close partner, Network, a social justice organisation involved in healthcare and poverty programmes.

Network was singled out for criticism in the report for "being silent on the right to life" and other "crucial issues" to the church.

Sister Campbell suggested that her organisation's vocal support for President Barack Obama's healthcare bill was behind the slapdown.

"There's a strong connection," she said. "We didn't split on faith, we split on politics."

American Bishops saw the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act as backing state-funded abortion. The nuns disagreed.

The Vatican said that the mandate to carry out reforms of the nuns' leadership "will be for a period of up to five years, as deemed necessary".

Archbishop Sartain said, "I hope to be of service to them and to the Holy See as we face areas of concern to all."

But Sister Campbell suggested a difficult time ahead: "It's totally a top-down process and I don't think the bishops have any idea of what they're in for."


Catholic nuns group "stunned" by Vatican slap

(Reuters) - A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns' group said on Thursday it was "stunned" that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social justice concerns and not enough on abortion and gay marriage.

In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been "silent on the right to life" and had failed to make the "Biblical view of family life and human sexuality" a central plank in its agenda.

It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by American bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops - "who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals" - is unacceptable, the report said.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "doctrinal assessment" saying the Holy See was compelled to intervene with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to correct "serious doctrinal problems."

The nuns' group said in a statement on its website, "The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment."

It added the group may give a lengthier response at a later date.

The conference said it represented 80 percent of America's 57,000 Catholic nuns. It is influential both in the United States and globally.

Academics who study the church said the Vatican's move was predictable given Pope Benedict's conservative views and efforts by Rome to quell internal dissent and curtail autonomy within its ranks.

"This is more an expression of the Church feeling under siege by trends it cannot control within the Church, much less within the broader society," University of Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby said.

That includes a steady drumbeat of calls to ordain women as priests, which the pope has reasserted was an impossibility.

The Vatican named Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and two other U.S. bishops to undertake the reforms of the conference's statutes, programs and its application of liturgical texts, a process it said could take up to five years.


Right now I'm torn between anger and a sort of unholy glee that the over-privileged bastards in the church hierarchy are actually feeling enough pressure in order to warrant a crackdown in the first place. Also, my response to any man who feels attacked or threatened by anything to do with feminism or with women having even marginal autonomy remains utterly unprintable to this day.
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ohmiya_sg 21st-Apr-2012 05:55 am (UTC)
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition

Where's a Monty Python gif when you need it?
the_gabih 21st-Apr-2012 10:00 am (UTC)
Spanish inquisition
gloraelin 21st-Apr-2012 06:00 am (UTC)
comment to my BF just now: "Well, the office of the inquisition can just go fuck themselves!"

Not knowing anything about the structure of the orders, I wonder what would happen if the nuns just... refused to listen to anything the archbishop said?
sesmo 21st-Apr-2012 06:17 am (UTC)
One word answer: excommunication.
qable 21st-Apr-2012 06:01 am (UTC)
This is something that's been building up for years. If I remember right, there was another crackdown in 2008 that was similarly harsh that was mostly ignored by LCWR, and I'd be surprised if anything different happened this time.

That aside, I have trouble seeing any of the "dissenting" things described here as being especially Radical Feminist. They mostly just read as common sense.
jwaneeta 21st-Apr-2012 06:10 am (UTC)
Ha! As an ex-religious I can only say that this is a fight between to reprehensible parties. Active "nuns" in the US, those that are left, are generally drawing salaries from the huge trusts they got from selling hospitals to the private sector, thus shutting the poor out of the hospitals ordinary Catholics paid to build. And their insulated contempt for the poor is breathtaking.

I know these women and how they operate, and believe me, a scant few give a shit about anything but their own security (which is mighty!); and their lip service about social issues is frankly nauseating -- I say this as someone who was on the inside, and heard "homelessness is a choice" many times. These "nuns" shop at top malls, in civilian clothes. They dine well at excellent restaurants, sip cocktails at donor frequent functions, and scorn human beings in actual distress or need. They don't live in convents but private homes or apartments, and drive excellent cars and don't have to pay for anything.

Oh? And with all their resources, they're dumping their elderly into states systems, crying poverty.

Oh, and also? Many communities are drawing Social Security for their sisters, despite never having paid taxes in their lives.

So don't be fooled: US "nuns" are not feminist heroes, or even decent human beings. They just have a better sense of PR. They know the US media game and have picked their fake, manipulative issues better.

As for Ratzinger and his gang: pphht. If Nostradamus proves right and Ratzinger is the last pope, I'd call it fair.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
suzycat 21st-Apr-2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Yay nuns. That is all.

Strangely the Catholic Jesus I grew up with would be FAR more focused on helping the poor and sick than shouting about how The Gayz should stop being The Gay.
jwaneeta 21st-Apr-2012 06:55 am (UTC)
Your Catholic Jesus was a pretty good image of Jesus. Just stick with his teachings, imo, and you'll be fine. It's only because the Church is veering from his teachings so drastically that I have no good word for them anymore.

Jesus is love. Jesus is great.

kira_snugz 21st-Apr-2012 07:06 am (UTC)
when i was younger i used to think that people of the cloth *never* disagreed. i thought they were all bffs and totally fine with people not agreeing on any one view. and i was brought up protestant. (*facepalm*)

being protestant growing up i never met any nuns or monks. but when i got married he came with two ex-nuns, both of whom got kicked out for getting knocked up. both from the same convent/nunnery. when they were found out, they were both told that if they gave the child up, then they could stay. one said screw you no, and the other said yes and after a couple years, got pregnant again and got then got booted.
my husbands aunt is the one who refused adoption, and his sisters birth mother gave her first baby away - she is the baby that got given up. when my husband told me the stories, i was like no, no way. no way you even know one fired nun let alone two.

the inquisition is still around? thats crazy weird. kinda cool though
suzycat 21st-Apr-2012 09:02 pm (UTC)
HOW did those nuns get pregnant???? WITH WHOM? This is fantastically salacious. I must know more.
lickety_split 21st-Apr-2012 07:22 am (UTC)
If only the Catholic Church were more like Sister Act.
ladypolitik 21st-Apr-2012 07:30 am (UTC)
I've been arguing this since I was like, 10 years old
sparkindarkness 21st-Apr-2012 11:16 am (UTC)
But Sister Campbell suggested a difficult time ahead: "It's totally a top-down process and I don't think the bishops have any idea of what they're in for."

I almost, ALMOST pity the bishop who's going to get that job. Give him hell, sister.
idemandjustice 21st-Apr-2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
Sister Campbell suggested that her organisation's vocal support for President Barack Obama's healthcare bill was behind the slapdown.

Why the fuck would the Catholic Church have a problem with more people having better access to health care? What planet am I living on?

Anyway, you go, nuns! Good for you!
tabaqui 21st-Apr-2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
It's all about the Obama healthcare bill including access to safe, legal abortion. Everything else gets tossed because of that.
idemandjustice 21st-Apr-2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
I used to be Catholic, but pretty much gave up on it some time when I was in high school, and I'm in my mid-thirties, now. So, I'm having trouble understanding this:

It said the sisters were promoting radical feminist themes and criticised US nuns for challenging the bishops, who it said were "the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals".

I thought the Pope was the only one who is supposed to be infallible.
amyura 21st-Apr-2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
It seems like there's always another news story reaffirming my decision to leave the Catholic church.
grapesheezy 21st-Apr-2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
It's pretty fucked up when a religion that preaches love & to treat others as you want to be treated punishes people for being too nice, loving & accepting.
Your hypocrisy is showing.
tabaqui 21st-Apr-2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Fuck the bishops. I don't know much about nuns and the church, having been raised Lutheran and having given up on all this god junk by the time i was a teen.

But i'm heartily sick of old white men doing their level best to silence and subdue women. Even if the nuns have ulterior motives, at least they're doing more good than the fucking Pope and his toadies.

Office of the Inquisition, indeed.
shukivengeance 21st-Apr-2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah seriously, this whole thing just reeks of "shut them wimminz up". Ugh.
celtic_thistle 21st-Apr-2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, how dare women be outspoken advocates for social justice? Don't they know Jesus was all about bullshit rules and sexist norms and said nothing about the poor or marginalized or anything?

Another reason I fled the church. The arrogance and self-righteousness with which the Vatican and its henchmen treat women who speak up is vile. Good for these nuns for not backing down. They're far more Christian than the stuffy old dickcheeses of the Vatican.
lafinjack radical nuns22nd-Apr-2012 03:35 am (UTC)

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