Sisters Gone Wild!
As a non-believer, it’s difficult for me to relate to the life of a Catholic nun. So when I read another report of the Vatican attack on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (the largest umbrella group for U.S. nuns) my gut reaction is that they should just walk away – screw those paternalistic jerks! But they don’t. Instead, they remain deeply committed to a church which treats women as second class citizens and which every day seems more about politics, and less about what Jesus would do.
Why? I guess they actually believe in the teachings of Christ. Catholic sisters and their work are the embodiment of Jesus’ instruction to care for the poor and the sick, and to practice tolerance and love. (Lessons the larger Church seems loathe to remember sometimes.) It is the nuns who run the hospitals, charities and schools, and who spend each day practicing what Jesus taught. Whether you believe or not, that is a good thing.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the controversy, you may be wondering what the heck these ladies have done? These “radical feminists” have failed to attack gay marriage, female ordination, and abortion. Oh, and also, they dared to disagree with the Catholic Bishops on healthcare reform. So the Vatican has had enough – can’t have those women undermining the good reputation of the Catholic Church, can we? The Vatican is cracking down on those nuns and their hippie ideas about loving thy neighbor and whatnot.
The Vatican orthodoxy watchdog announced Wednesday a full-scale overhaul of the largest umbrella group for nuns in the United States, accusing the group of taking positions that undermine Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” (AP)
Apparently, what really gets under the skin of male church leadership is this:
In programs and presentations, investigators noted “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
“Some commentaries on ‘patriarchy’ distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the church,” the authors of the report wrote. (AP – emphasis mine)
Um…excuse me, I know I’m just a girl and not some high-falutin bishop or cardinal in a fancy dress, but to my understanding, Jesus didn’t “structure” the church – other than to tell Peter to get on that. No matter. I get it, guys: it’s hard to break the habit after centuries of treating women like dirt. It’s no coincidence that the places where the church is expanding are places women are still quite subjugated.
Sister Simone Campbell, director of the NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby (yes, who supported the Affordable Care Act) knows exactly what the score is: “I think we scare them.”
Campbell sees the current tension between male and female Catholic clergy as a part of a post-Vatican II democratic evolution within the church, but worries that the male leaders fail to recognize the “witness of women religious.”
“I made my vows over 40 years ago to serve the people of God and that service is unseen in this document,” she said in an interview.
“It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue,” Campbell said. (Washington Post - emphasis mine)