The Vatican recently issued a strong condemnation of American nuns for what it deemed their “radical feminist” leanings, such as caring for the sick, dying, condemned and poor Americans despite dwindling numbers of American Catholics (it’s so bad they are running television ads, if you managed to miss it) and even more pronounced losses among the ranks of the nuns themselves. Though the nuns have hit back at the condemnation from the Vatican — especially since no one at the Vatican bothered to talk to them during the investigation — the Church initially said the condemnation was due to a 1977 statement that suggested the Church consider ordaining women as priests and nuns’ lack of vociferous condemnation of LGBT rights and its support for President Obama’s health care reform despite provisions related to contraception and abortion.
The nuns’ representatives will finally get a chance to meet with the men who saw fit to condemn them as insufficiently committed to Catholicism this week, though it’s not expected to directly address the all-male panel’s assertion that the largest organization of American nuns is “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.” In other words, the Vatican’s biggest gripe — likely influenced by the local bishops — is that American nuns don’t spend enough time condemning abortion and do-not-resuscitate orders, which are clearly the most important issues in America today.
Mind you, the men behind the report are the same Church leaders who, in many cases, ignored or minimized the abuse of children and then sanctioned the sale of convents and nunneries from under the feet of (in many cases elderly) sisters to pay the legal settlements necessitated by their unwillingness to end the abuse of children in case it reflected poorly on the Church. But, hey, those ladies are insufficiently committed to ending abortion and eliminating birth control (though about 68 percent of sexually active Catholic women use medical contraception and another 4 percent use the Catholic-condemned withdrawal method) in between ministering to the poor and stuff, so I guess it doesn’t matter if they are allowed to live out their days in the manner of their choosing. The bishops have bills to pay.
At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is spending millions of (mostly) parishioner dollars on a television ad campaign to convinced lapsed Catholics (like this author, who left and asked her name to be removed from the rolls in 1994) to “come home” to the Church, dumping on a bunch of nuns who don’t say “How high?” loud enough when the bishops yell, “Jump!” seems like, at best, a bad PR move. At worst, it looks like yet another effort to turn back time, silence potential critics who, in many cases simply by their example, make the bishops look venal and overtly political and bring women — even those whose vocations are consecrated by the Church — under the thumb of male leadership.
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