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APRIL 20, 2012 2:21PM

National Coalition of American Nuns & the Pope; a crackdown

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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.

According to the Times, the reforms will take place over a five-year period, and will involve the approval by the archbishop of every speaker the Leadership Conference has at their public events, a revision of their group statues, the replacement of the group's handbook, reforming the group's stances on issues to reflect those of the Vatican, and an investigation into the Leadership Conference's connections to Network, a Catholic-run social justice group founded by nuns, and the Resource Center for Religious Life."

"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 AM
Vatican 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. (Wiki)

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.

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Scroll down past the two posted articles on the subject for Sr. Donna Quinn's response to the "inquisition" instigated by American Bishops and Roman authority. Ratzinger, most likely will not live down his association with the Nazis, trying to control behavior of American nuns who seek justice for the poor, women and children and whose mission does not align with fanatical misogynistic power that the "church" would like to desperately maintain. Tax these political entities, begin today, as the church creates its outrageous attacks on our President and our political system.
Can't have those women mouthing off... next thing you know they'll be wanted to marry and become priests! Can't have that for Christ's sake!
Praise to those nuns for following their hearts not dogma, and thank God some of these priests are finally facing trial I hope it's the start of a long overdue necissity to prosecute!
jmac: Ah yes. People wonder why so many Catholics have left the church or are cafeteria Catholics. It seems that the pope is trying to crack the whip and bring all those girls in line. If my aunt, who was a nun, was alive today, she would be hung out to dry with the rest of them. Taught to think, well that was their first mistake wasn't it....
Anne: I support the efforts of those nuns as a former catholic and I also support reformation in that religion. If that came about I am certain that more than a few might return. It is disgusting to hear a catholic bishop in Illinois compare our president to Hitler, as was reported yesterday on the news. It is getting out of hand. It is a twisted argument to even find a remote reason to say what he did and to incite people from the pulpit in such a manner makes me feel that it is a political, self serving statement. It is time that the churches were taxed and power to intimidate, spread political lies and misunderstanding be kept out of houses of worship. Just a thought.
If that was a Muslim imam who had said what the bishop did and it was reported yesterday, the uproar would have been monumental. If the Muslims in this country criticized and the government and tried to influence political activity as has occurred with both catholic and protestant leaders, evangelicals, etc. in this country, well, there would be an explosion of hatred for them! Now, take it a step further...what if the church of scientology was trying to have this much influence in government? How is that going down with your coffee and roll this morning, I am sure that many would be gagging; as I know I would be.

Separation of church and state, separation of church and state, say it again and again and try to comprehend the wisdom of that. Saying or claiming a religious control over a nation is a dangerous and slippery slope. Take a look at those nations out there with state religions. Do we really think that is what we want in this country?
Sarah: Yes. Depressing. So much progress has been made and it is about to be snuffed out by terrible misogynistic leadership.
I read about this yesterday. It just made me ever more grateful that I don't practice Catholicism anymore and condoned by belief that religious personhood should end.
Razzle: Thanks for reading. When I read all of this it was just like the last draw of trying to find anything worth salvaging about the role of women in this church. So unfair and disgusting.
How do Catholic women stomach this sort of thing? Are they in denial, or do they just not care?
toritto: I completely agree with you. My money would be on Sophie and it is she I would aspire to emulate, not the Nazi pope.
Jeanette: I think that most catholic women here in this country are catholics by virtue of family tradition and no more. They, perhaps, go through the motions and attempt to keep their tradition of being church members alive. I know more women that have that on their minds than actually believing that they are somehow less then men in a church designed to discount them as baby breeders.

People forget how many women in this country use birth control, that is a no no in the catholic church, not to mention ABORTION! How many catholic women have had an abortion? Would love to know that. Also how many catholic women gave birth to, loved and nurtured a gay child? Wow, amazing huh?

Time for everybody to wake up and smell the coffee. Stop funding this crazed anti women institution, stop supporting a follower of Hitler, stop making excuses that this is the religion you were brought up with. Just a thought, or stay in it and try to change it, improve it, the way so many have, including these nuns, only to find out that they are being reigned in and chastised and discriminated against and demeaned.
The previous pope was asked once, "Why can't women be priests?" He said, "Because I said so." Now, he was a really nice guy and people all over the world loved and respected him. He did not intend to be rude in his response. It was simply his way of saying, that is the doctrine, and that is how it is going to remain.

According to the moral code of the Historical Jesus, the sisters are right. Yet, according to the Catholic doctrine, they are wrong! Thank you so much, Sheila, for your excellent work on this issue. I want to see what happens. R
Thoth: Thank you for reading. It is an important issue, as the church could implode on this kind of current path. Just as women are beginning to see they must be more actively politically to protect their rights, so might they see it within this faith.
Actually, for those of us who were raised as Roman Catholics and went to such schools for a time, this type of thinking by the Vatican is not new. It actually started in the 1960s when nuns marched in civil rights protests and asked to be released from the overwhelming habits that used to encase so many of them from crown to toe. I don't see change coming from the Vatican anytime soon. I think the only way change will happen is when the money from the American church starts to go away, due to a decline in church attendance and membership among people under age 60 or so.
Mary: You are probably right, money helps reinforce the power, without it, well, not so powerful....
I heard about this on NPR yesterday evening. They interviewed a nun who sounded like a feminist to me, a first for me. Her initial words were along the lines of "The Vatican has a hard time dealing with strong women." She went on from there to say that the Vatican also spends little or no time actually interacting with the poor. I'm not certain what her punishment will be for speaking so openly, but if people like her were leading the Church, I'd actually consider joining it.
Gratefulden: Yes, many people do not think the Vatican reflects the teachings of Christ, but do believe that some of these nuns do.
It comes as a surprise that the bunch of sexually repressed, misogynistic men that run the RCC are trying to repress women exactly why?

They've been pulling this crap since the beginning and the suppressed the Gospels of Mary Magdeline.

The only thing I find surprising is how many women have put up with their BS for so long!
Did you read the story about one of America's first pennies that was just auctioned off. Here's a quote from the article...

the copper-silver penny reads "Liberty Parent of Science & Industry."

"At the time, industry and science reflected an enlightenment mindset," Imhof said. "People believed freedom of thought and industrial growth would bind and unify the new country, not religion or God."

So our founding fathers did not want church to have this much power. Guess our Congress needs to re-read their history.
I just thank God for Martin Luther. Great post and R! Huggs!
Safe Bet: I am thinking the very same thing.

Phyllis: I did not know that....amazing isn't it? They do need a history lesson and so do all these crazy right wing evangelicals that seem to believe otherwise too.

Zuma: You are so right, the reformation was a good thing, thanks to Luther and his fierce will. We need another one. Thanks for reading.
I've written a piece on this and from a different angle and I'll place it here Sunday morning. I love your approach to this and I learned a great deal here.
Thank you, Sheila.

Jon: Thank you for your visit.
Good post Sheila. To think I used to want to be a nun is a joke to me now. I would not have lasted one day.
My hat's off to the women who dare to speak out.
Pope be dammed.
Mission, I think many young women had thoughts of becoming nuns. There are some very good ones today and their real fight with the vatican's authority is on for sure now. Thanks for reading.