The Vatican has launched a crackdown on Leadership Conference of Women Religious [LCWR], the group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying they are not speaking out strongly enough against marriage equality, abortion and women’s ordination.
You know, because there aren't any more poor, hungry, thirsty, homeless, parent-less children in the world these days for the Vatican to worry about.
The Vatican’s recent actions against LCWR reads, in part: “The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises on religious congregations in other parts of the world."
The directive follows a two-year investigation by Rome, which hasn't had anything else to do of late, you know, like ridding the Church of child rapists or feeding hungry children. Those are small potatoes, when you consider that a group that represents nuns is not speaking out against marriage equality as harshly as Pope Benny deems necessary.
Another group specifically targeted by the Vatican's bitchslap, er, directive, is Network, a social l justice lobby created by Catholic sisters some 40 years ago, Network plays a leading role in pushing progressive causes in Washington.
Catholic. Progressive. Those sisters have their work cut out for them.
The Vatican announcement said that “while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.” And it adds that “crucial” issues like “the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.”
Many bishops, those teachers of faith and morality--at least the ones not on trial for raping boys--are angry that LCWR and Network, along with the Catholic Health Association, have endorsed President Obama’s health care reform over the bishops’ objections.
It sounds to me like the bishops are just a bunch of pissy old queens in satin robes who are angry that a group of nuns--a group of women--aren't goostestepping along with the Bishop's warped view of morality.
While LCWR has yet to comment, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, is “stunned” that the Vatican document would single out her group over its support for health care reform: “It concerns me that political differences in a democratic country would result in such a a censure and investigation.”
Sister Campbell also strongly defended LCWR. “I know LCWR has faithfully-served women religious [as both sisters in active ministry and cloistered nuns are known] in the United States and worked hard to support the life of women religious and our service to the people of God.”
I think the Vatican is just trying to strong-arm a group of strong-willed women into towing the Catholic hardline. But they may have a fight on their hands; in 2009 the Vatican launched an investigation of all women religious in the U.S., prompted by concern over the women's commitment to Catholic doctrine and tradition as well as the sharp decline in vocations.
See, the number of nuns in America has dropped from 179,954 in 1965 to just 55,000 today. And those 55,000 are speaking up for themselves, something the Catholic Church, which has long considered women less than men, doesn't like.
I hope the LCWR and Network continue to stand up to the Pope and the Church. I hope they continue to march toward a more progressive future for the Church.
It's time, maybe, that we let women run the Vatican. I can imagine a lot of things would change.
For the better.