Vatican Reprimands U.S. Nuns For "Radical Feminist Themes"
The church says it discovered "serious doctrinal problems" during an investigation into an influential group of American nuns. By Abby Ohlheiser
" The Vatican appointed an American bishop on Wednesday to lead an overhaul of an umbrella group representing the vast majority of U.S. nuns after church investigators discovered "serious doctrinal problems" within the group, including the promotion of "radical feminist themes incompatibale with the Catholic faith."
The New York Times reports that the crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was the result of a lengthy investigation into the group that began in 2008. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle will oversee the reform effort.
The women's group, which was formed in 1956 at the Vatican's request, represents roughly 4 in 5 American nuns. The organization speaks out on policy issues, especially those pertaining to social justice, and provides leadership training to the approximately 57,000 nuns it represents.
The religious disagreement between the Vatican and the LCWR has a lot to do with end-of-life and abortion debates in the U.S., especially in the context of President Obama's health care reform law. As the BBC notes, the Vatican chastised the group for ignoring the church's stance on euthanasia and abortion, and for making public statements that "disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops" in the U.S. The Vatican is also upset with the group for apparently challenging church teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood.
"So let's review: if you're a celibate priest and engage in sexually predatory, the church hierarchy will spend years covering it up. If you are a nun and "make statements that disagree with or challenge the position of the bishops," the hierarchy will spend years investigating you.
Anyone else think that it's time for another Reformation? "
by Vasyl Markus (used with permission)
April 19, 2012 11:10 AMVatican Moves To Rein In Nuns
By Ed Kilgore
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican agency (and distant descendant of the Roman Inquisition) once led by Pope Benedict XVI, has issued a document rebuking the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella groups that often speaks on matters of public policy for America’s 55,000 nuns. Its alleged sins include association with “radical feminists,” an unwillingness to speak out on behalf of “the church’s biblical view on family life and human sexuality” (code for opposing same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion), and most of all, its failure to follow the lead of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on controversial issues. A smaller but closely associated group founded by nuns to promote social justice, Network, was also reprimanded by CDF.
The timing of the action is interesting indeed. According to David Gibson of the Religion News Service, the investigation of LCWR was apparently initiatedin 2008 and concluded in 2010, with the pope signing off on sanctions early in 2011. Hard to believe it’s a coincidence that the Vatican moved to curb the nuns for implicit insubordination against the Bishops just as the USCCB announced a big summer series of protests for “religious liberty” keyed to categorical opposition to the Obama administration’s efforts to implement a contraception coverage mandate, particularly since LCWR has been notably willing to support compromise efforts and earlier supported the health reform legislation that authorized the mandate.
Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times quotes Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, as acknowledging the political intent of the rebuke:
“I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”
It’s noteworthy that an American, former San Franciso archbishop William Cardinal Levada, now heads the CDF and issued the rebuke. And he’s clearly putting his former colleagues from the USCCB in charge of the nuns’ “rehabilitation,” reports Goodstein:
He appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead the process of reforming the sisters’ conference, with assistance from Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and Bishop Leonard Blair, who was in charge of the investigation of the group.
They have been given up to five years to revise the group’s statutes, approve of every speaker at the group’s public programs and replace a handbook the group used to facilitate dialogue on matters that the Vatican said should be settled doctrine. They are also supposed to review the Leadership Conference’s links with Network and another organization, the Resource Center for Religious Life.
There’s a separate investigation, dubbed a “visitation,” also underway under Vatican auspices to examine the overall situation of “women religious” in the U.S., that could lead to other sanctions and “reforms.”
And I’d bet it’s just a matter of time until other conscientious objecters against the Bishops’ declaration of culture war, such as the Catholic Health Association (itself led by a nun, Sr. Carol Keehan) and various Catholic colleges and universities, get a taste of the lash and some sternly worded advice and direction."
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.
The National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), since its inception (1969) has been an advocate for social and structural change inside and outside the Catholic Church. It is said to officially represent from 500 to 2,000 U.S. women religious.
Dear Members of NCAN -
These are the changes we would like to see in the Institutional Church:
Because we can no longer have an Institution that supports discrimination
which makes its teachings coming from an all-male group invalid.
Because we can no longer have a hierarchical all-male Institution supporting
the treatment of women as second-class members.
Be it resolved that we will work together on the following:
1. Women must have the Right to Vote in the Church
- Women as equal partners must not be banished from voting
on the Leadership of this Church, namely the Pope.
- When women are included in all areas with Voice and Vote the
day must be honored by sending up Pink Smoke around the
- This Voice and Vote for Women, doing away with gender
discrimination, applies to all areas including Synods on issues
of concern to both men and women in the Church.
2. Create a Sacramental System for Men, Women and Children
This would require the
- Retraction of "The Declaration on the
Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial
Priesthood" which stated that Ordination was only for those
who resembled Jesus physically.
- Elimination of seven sacraments for males and six for
This would automatically stop the Eucharist from being used
as a weapon on Legislators and those who disagree with us.
This would sacramentalize those areas women find energizing
to their lives as the birth of a baby, life choices, menopause, family planning, grandchildren, education and graduation,
work that would have equal compensation,
and benefits that would equally benefit those who choose to
be married, partners or single.
3. Dissolve the present Code of Canon Law and Write a New
Law that protects women equally under the Law.
4. Respect a Woman's Primacy of Conscience and the
Choices she makes in her Lifetime Journey.
This would do away with those punitive male posturings of
of excommunication, expulsion, obedience to male
authority and other forms of terrorism showing no respect for
the education, dreams, and place of the Spirit in a woman's
5. Use Inclusive Language in Songs, Scripture, Textbooks,
and Preaching to show that females are made in the
Image and Likeness of God.
6. Reverence Earth and feminist spirituality taught and
preached with our daughters and sons now and forever.
7. End this War on Women and be the Person God meant
you to be.
(Sister) Donna Quinn
April 19, 2012
Used with permission.
Something interesting that a friend posted on my facebook where this conversation took place.
Copyright 2012 by SheilaTGTG55
More on progressive nuns important to the needed change within the Catholic Church.