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U.S. nuns rip Vatican for ‘unsubstantiated accusations’


Leaders representing most of the nation’s 57,000 Catholic nuns on Friday (June 1) answered a Vatican crackdown on their group by charging that Rome’s criticisms of the sisters were “unsubstantiated,” caused “scandal and pain” and “greater polarization” in the church.

“Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission,” the 22-member board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious warned in a statement issued after a special four-day meeting in Washington.

The LCWR board meeting followed the surprise announcement in April that Pope Benedict XVI wanted a Vatican-led makeover of the group on the grounds that it was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.

Rome also chided the LCWR for doctrinal ambiguity and sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The unexpectedly strong pushback to the Vatican may be an indication of how much backlash the campaign has sparked among Catholics, who value the sisters’ longstanding ministry in education, health care and social services, and who bristle at Rome’s demands to focus instead on sexual morality and enforcing orthodoxy.

Friday’s statement specifically noted the outpouring of support the nuns have received, from petitions to protests to prayer vigils, which continued to pour in after Friday’s statement from the LCWR.

“We commend the sisters on their prayerful discernment of the Vatican’s mandate,” said Jim FitzGerald of the Nun Justice Project, a lay-led church reform group that was created after the April takeover was announced. “It speaks to the faithfulness of the sisters and the reason why Catholics across the country continue to stand behind them.” [More]


RNS/Christian Century



  1. Eileen Kovatch says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how unchristian some conservative responders are. I am a Catholic and love the Mass and real presence in the Eucharist . Do I agree with the Church heirarchy? Not always. Do I pray to God for guidance? You bet but that isn’t always consistent with Rome. The Pope is a Holy man but his advisors may be as fallible as you and I.

    • Jim says:

      Well, Eileen, if you’re referring to me as unchristian — what if I told you I turned over the tables of some of the nuns who publicly demonstrate for abortion? If you don’t like that I did that, then take it up with Jesus — He did the same (Mark 11:15-17). Not that I’m comparing myself with my Creator, of course — but we grossly misunderstand love. As Benedict XVI said, love is not greeting-card sentimentality. A masculine love tells it like it is. And, if the answers you get when you pray differ from those from Rome, then you’re getting the wrong answers — the Catholic Church is infallible in matters of doctrine. I’m sorry that you, like so many Catholics today, are very confused — God’s Truth is what it is, and you have only two choices: accept it or reject it. There is no such thing as making up your own truth.

      • Tony says:

        lin my humble opinion you sOund like a very troubled man.

        • Jim says:

          Not a surprise at all that you would say that, Tony. After all, I’m a man, so I’m innately defective, right? How about if you quit ducking your responsibilities as a man and provide some leadership to the ladies?

        • Jim says:

          Also, Tony, I’m thoroughly impressed by the data you marshalled to refute my positions. Let’s see, you referenced yourself: IMHO. How about if you address what is in Casti Connubii (an encyclical, which I think carries more weight than your humble opinion — which, BTW, I doubt is actually humble). Or how about if you address Jesus’ turning over the tables of the money changers? Or how about if your address Luke 17:3, where Jesus told us to rebuke our brother (or sister) if he sins? Or how about Ezekiel 33:7-9, which tells us God will hold us accountable for the damnation of our brother if we do not speak out to dissuade him from his way?

        • Jim says:

          The reason you are confused, Tony, and the reason my ideas sound so “troubled” to you, is because you haven’t been led by priests to be courageous, as most priests avoid controversy, and are more concerned with not offending others (especially the ladies) than they are with preaching the truth. Man is appointed head of the woman — not by any politician, not by you, not by me, but by GOD HIMSELF. If you don’t like the way God has designed the relationship between the sexes, then you have a problem with God.

          • Ignatius says:

            Jim, I will follow, Jesus who was meek and mild of heart. Remember that prayer Jim? “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my prayer like unto thine.”

            • Ignatius says:

              actually it is make my heart like unto thine.
              It doesn’t say “give he a whip and let me kick butt.”

              • Jim says:

                So, Ignatius, please explain to me how Jesus, Who we both acknowledge was meek and humble, could curse a fig tree so that it withered to the ground, then on the same day flip the tables over of the money changers. What this clearly implies is that you can curse trees, flip tables over AND be meek and humble. If you want to advance this conversation, please address what for you is an apparent contradiction: how Jesus could be meek yet do these things. I see no contradiction, but apparently you do.

            • Jim says:

              Ignatius, I’m waiting for your answer, too — just like I’m waiting for Tony’s. No good answer either, huh? You’ll answer with silence, and imply by your silence that you are taking the higher road? You should be able to defend your position.

        • Jim says:

          I’m waiting for your answer, Tony — where’d you go????? No good answer? Well, you’re right, there are no good answers for your position.

  2. Marion says:

    Your headline is very misleading and untrue. The Sisters are faithful members of the Church and deal respectfully with its leadership. This misunderstanding will be dealt with with respctful, truthful dialog.

    • Jim says:

      Marion — when a sister is pro-choice, pro-female ordination, and pro-homosexuality, there is no “misunderstanding” — rather, there is error that needs to be corrected. The sisters should apologize to all the Catholic faithful for the scandal they have caused, and for leading others away from the truth. When they do that, I’ll have immensely more respect for them.

      • Jim says:

        Also, Marion, your assertion is factually untrue: at least some, possibly the majority of sisters have NOT been faithful members of the Church, at least not over the last 40 or 50 years. I know I once interviewed a nun for an organization I headed, but I could not hire her because she told me she was pro-choice, and we required all of our staff to be pro-life. What irony — I couldn’t hire a Catholic sister because of her morals! My knee-jerk response to her when she told me her position: “Sister, that’s a mortal sin!” I believe that comment was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and she most definitely needed to hear it. But, I’m not arguing from this one instance. There are numerous documented examples of Catholic sisters having absolutely appalling religious beliefs. What a shame, because the nuns who taught me in Catholic grade school were a great credit to the Church. But then, they wore habits and supported the Church — unlike many today.

  3. David Tilly says:

    Not just the Sisters, but all of us who are capable of developing a mature conscience.

    • Jim says:

      David — Yes, adults can develop their own “mature conscience,” just like the Protestants do — since they have no hierarchy, they are left to form their own consciences — and you can see where that has led. Why don’t you try a Methodist church next Sunday?

  4. Peggy says:

    Good for the Sisters to have the courage to speak out when they (and I) believe they have been unjustly repressed by rigid, authoritarian males. May respectful dialogue finally ensue about issues that really need discussion.

    • Jim says:

      Peggy — there is no discussion with God — He is not a democracy. Either you are with Him, or you are against Him — there is no middle position, no “consensus” (as women naturally are wont to gather). You can either take the Truth or you can leave it, but understand that leaving the Truth makes you wrong – all opinions are not equally valid.

  5. Tony says:

    It is about time the dysfunctional bishops were challenged by the Sisters to minister together as adult Catholic Christians. For far too long the bishops have been lording it over the Sisters acting in a “Father knows best” Syndrome.

    • Jim says:

      Tony — you need to read Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage), Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html. Indeed, men are the leaders of women, whether you like it or not. (Of course, maybe you’ll disregard what Pius XI said because he is a man — how consistently sexist you are!) Allowing these women to run their own ship without any accountability to the male hierarchy has resulted in the exact mess these pro-choice, sometimes lesbian nuns have created. Sisters taught me too, and taught me very well, but that does not give them a pass on being heretical and advancing positions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings.


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