Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Vatican Thinks that American Nuns Have Become Too Big for Their Britches

I know the Vatican really does not care a jot what I, an American-Lutheran-feminist thinks...but could it really try to piss me off more???

Here's the latest from the National Catholic Reporter. In a nutshell, Cardinal William Levada (formerly the archbishop of the Oregon diocese, and not my favorite Catholic...) has issued the Leadership Conference of Women Religious a letter informing them that they are to be investigated for their liberal, un-Catholic views and discussions about homosexuality, women's ordination, and the idea that non-Catholics just might be as deserving of God's love and grace as Catholics...and other such heresies. This follows another investigation announced last December because the Vatican thinks that the nuns' "quality of life" is causing young women not to want to become nuns. Gee--think it could possibly be for any other reason?

The Vatican has had concerns about the nuns' organization ever since 2001...not sure why it took them 8 years, but I suspect it has something to do with the knee-jerk attitude of Pope Benedict XVI and his minions, who clearly believe that these Americans have gotten out of hand and that the previous administration did not act when they should have.

So the Vatican's approach is enough to get me ticked off (following on the heels of that whole Brazilian excommunication of the mother and doctors of the raped and impregnated child who was allowed to have an abortion so she wouldn't risk her life bearing twins)...but then I read the comments on the National Catholic Reporter web site, and it made me positively sick.

The National Catholic Reporter is somewhat progressive as far as Catholic organizations and news outlets go. I should really know better by now than to read internet comments. They seem to bring out the rudest people, who feel quite free to spout bile without fear of repercussion.

After reading all of these comments, I was glad not to be a Catholic. The extremely conservative Catholic commenters drawn to the site had some really horrible things to say about Catholic religious women, not to mention about Catholics who don't agree with the Pope or the hierarchy. They claimed that most nuns are raging feminists, wiccans, "hate the poor," and one even claimed that they wore bikinis!

I know many lifelong Catholics who have left the church over the priest sex abuse scandal. Many posters brought up the hypocrisy of the Vatican over failing to address that issue effectively. Yet of all the "pious" Catholics calling the sisters names, not one of them responded about that dark stain on the Catholic church. It was all about pointing the fingers at the nuns.

As a non-Catholic, part of me finds it difficult to understand how Catholics can remain in the church when they disagree with the Pope and the church hierarchy. I remember we once had a group of women who had been ordained as priests visit our church (and had been excommunicated or expected to be), and I asked one of them that question: "What made you decide to remain a Catholic when you felt the calling to become a priest?" She said that she left the church for a time, but returned because the moments in her life when she felt closest to God were when she was part of the Catholic church. I imagine that's how many of the nuns who remain feel as well.

But I still ponder the question. I don't think I could stay, knowing that the leaders of my church considered me to be a living heretic. Life is too short to endure that kind of stress and grief.

As one poster so rightly commented, "Jesus spoke nonstop about abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and other pelvic issues. Oh wait...that's right, he never once spoke about those issues."

Many of these conservatives decry the Catholics who are protesting this witch hunt for "disobeying" the church. The Roman Catholic Church, for them, is all about perfect obedience to the Pope and the Vatican. But to coin a trite saying used by born-again Christians, "What would Jesus have done?" He would have loved the women, gays, and lesbians rejected by the official "Church," the poor, the dying who choose to take their own lives, the troubled and the imprisoned. He wouldn't have shaken his finger at them, announcing that he would be "investigating them" for the way they live the gospel. He would have embraced them.

Shame on the Vatican for being so petty.


  1. I thought for sure you would have to say something about the comment regarding condom use and AIDS in Africa. I almost had to rant about that one. Because abstinence is the answer to all of the world's problems. (insert overly dramatic rolling of eyes)

  2. Yeah, I know. The reason I didn't comment on the condom use and AIDS in Africa is that it was nothing new. Same old mantra about abstinence education. Can anyone say SARAH PALIN?