Chastisement of American nuns is seen to backfire on Rome

A Vatican crackdown on American female religious over hot-button issues, chiefly contraception and homosexuality, has evoked a big push-back that includes 11,500 signatures on an electronic petition.

The activism and autonomy of America’s nuns has vexed recent popes, including the current occupant of the Chair of St. Peter, Benedict XVI, and his predecessor, John Paul II.

Last week, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith faulted the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for alleged grave error, dissent from the magisterium’s teachings on sexuality and “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

It set Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain as overseer to accomplish reform of the Maryland-based leadership conference, which represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 nuns in the U.S.

“We are shocked by the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s recent crackdown on nuns in the United States,” the petition said.

“The mandate forced upon LCWR, which threatens their works of justice, is a prime example of how the hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church misuses its power to diminish the voice of women. We value the prophetic witness of women religious and appreciate their commitment to social justice.” [More]