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Mark Engler
YES! Magazine / Op-Ed
Published: Friday 15 June 2012
It would be a fine show watching the bishops try to scramble and pick up the slack if the sisters said “enough.”

Redefining Radical: Catholic Nuns Vs. the Vatican

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They run hospitals, schools, and social programs. They are stalwart leaders in many spiritual communities. And they are contributing vital insights to the Christian theological discussion. If nuns went on strike, many of the institutions of the Catholic Church would grind to a standstill.

Sure, a work stoppage of this sort is a long shot. But I’d love to see it. Having witnessed both priests and nuns in action, there’s no doubt in my mind which group dominates in the getting-shit-done department. It would be a fine show watching the bishops try to scramble and pick up the slack if the sisters said “enough.”

Certainly, the nuns would have good reason to do so. A storm has been brewing since April, when the Vatican released a statement condemning American nuns for showing too much independence of thought and not adequately deferring to the bishops, who, Rome tells us, “are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” A remarkable June 1 story in the New York Times recounted how the Vatican criticized the sisters for “focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping ‘silent’ on abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Then there’s this transgression: “During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference [of Women Religious], signed a statement supporting it—support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.”

For such grave sins as spending too much time with the poor, the Vatican has put a bishop (needless to say, a man) in charge of restructuring the nuns’ conference, picking through its handbooks, and approving any speakers it has at its public events—a process scheduled to take up to five years.

In short, the Vatican has made a parody of itself, pulling out its most retrograde positions and doubling down on them. That the Pope is accusing nuns of promoting “radical feminist themes” only shows how out of touch he is with radical feminism.

Certainly, the nuns would have good reason to do so. A storm has been brewing since April, when the Vatican released a statement condemning American nuns for showing too much independence of thought and not adequately deferring to the bishops, who, Rome tells us, “are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” A remarkable June 1 story in the New York Times recounted how the Vatican criticized the sisters for “focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping ‘silent’ on abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Then there’s this transgression: “During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference [of Women Religious], signed a statement supporting it—support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.”

For such grave sins as spending too much time with the poor, the Vatican has put a bishop (needless to say, a man) in charge of restructuring the nuns’ conference, picking through its handbooks, and approving any speakers it has at its public events—a process scheduled to take up to five years.

In short, the Vatican has made a parody of itself, pulling out its most retrograde positions and doubling down on them. That the Pope is accusing nuns of promoting “radical feminist themes” only shows how out of touch he is with radical feminism.



If the Church can't evolve

If the Church can't evolve into a more socially progressive institution, let it be.
I congratulate the Vatican for insisting that people took an oath of respect to the Bishop honor.
Regards,
- http://www.opengloss.com/

I hope the sisters do not

I hope the sisters do not cave in to a group of patriarchal men with fixed ideas and inflexible minds. Many of the nuns are facing the real issues of the world today, including problems of the environment and the duty of human beings to care for the rest of creation (as in we are a part of creation, not lords of it). Their interest in social justice and the rights of nonhuman animals is much needed today. Hopefully they will also admit the enormous problems looming with overpopulation, a subject the contraception-hating men will never admit.

Very well said. I am a

Very well said. I am a Catholic who has become so disgusted with the attitude of so much of the Church hierarchy. I keep reminding myself that the Church has persisted through other major problems and it will prevail here. Meanwhile, the nuns have their priorities right! What good does it do to bring a life (human or animal) into the world if you are unable or unwilling to provide for its care?

YOU STOLE MY ARTICLE!! I

YOU STOLE MY ARTICLE!! I wrote this article with the exact same title and sent it to a number of publications.
I DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE STEALING THEM!
I am publishing a book of essays, and this article with this title will be in it and all will see what theives writers are.

YOU STOLE MY ARTICLE!! I sent

YOU STOLE MY ARTICLE!! I sent this exact article with this exact title into a few newspapers to be published. I DID NOT REALIZE YOU WERE STEALING THEM!!
I will never do that again. And I am publishing a book of essays and MY article will be in it and everyone will see what thieves writers are, you are!

One of the important roles of

One of the important roles of religion in society is to slow down social change; to reduce the probability of making unsustainable deviations. But by now we should be approaching the time to acknowledge that women are people, worthy of equal rights and participation in society. Hopefully this will happen in a more prompt time frame that that for the recent granting of forgives to Galileo for arguing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

This Engler article is

This Engler article is hopelessly confused. I haven't the time to read all the responses.
The issue, from Rome's point of view, has nothing to do with sexism and male 'bishops'. The issue is that sexual abuse is a very serious matter. Nobody in their right mind would object to help for the poor; but that help cannot be given soundly if the Church's TEACHING AUTHORITY, the Magisterium, is either ignored or disobeyed.
There is an ISSUE in America right now about a nun who has publicly disavowed basic Church teaching on sexuality and babies. This does not show admirable 'independence'. It dramatises a form of gravely serious disobedience to Church teaching about sexual issues. This teaching is as important to females as it is to males.
For the record: I am the grandmother of three grandsons (my daugher's), with another grandchild due soon (my son's). My family background, American, is Jewish. I grew up with an Engler . . . But THIS Engler is so biased that I want to scream in anger. He doesn't understand the first thing about Magisterial teaching. His quotes are selective: and the bias behind his choice of quotes is mind-boggling. I have been a published writer myself for over 40 years, but most of my writing, done in Australia, is not yet available in the US.
I can't help SEEING a biased comment from one of your readers. He can call 'religion' a 'true dictatorship', but that doesn't make his opinion either true or wise. It is SHOCKING in its intolerance and bigotry.
Humane people, whether they are religious or not, and whether they are male or female, are civilised thinkers. This means that they are JUST in their criticisms of society and culture. Obviously there are many sinners in the Catholic Church, as there are in the wider global culture. Dante's worst sinners in THE DIVNE COMEDY were Catholics!!!! It'd be good if a basic fact like this were known today.

Oops! Guess I repeated

Oops! Guess I repeated myself there. Same argument. Slightly different words. Same message!

Even if they didn't have the

Even if they didn't have the pedophile issue and subsequent cover up, the world needs to keep an eye on the church leadership because they're beyond knowing what's good for the people and what isn't. Bishops, by and large, are coddled to the point of being almost useless in serving the church in any meaningful way. The ones in Rome are even worse. Church teaching is opposed to false gods, and yet that's just what they've become. People kneel at their feet -- sometimes prostrate themselves on the floor before them -- and kiss their rings! So much for the idea of being servants of god and of the people!! Nuns, on the other hand, do just what they joined up to do...and more. Three cheers for the LCWR. I'd love to see them go on strike.

And some of the

And some of the clearest-thinking and honestly religious in the true sense of the word, are nuns who have done most of the good works bishops, cardinals and the pope himself take credit for. If only the dishonest or self-deluding men of the church would live what they preach the Catholic Church would not be at the moral and fiscal impasse it's at.

Even if the church didn't

Even if the church didn't have the pedophile issue and it's subsequent coverup, folks need to continue to hold the church leadership under close scrutiny. The bishops are, for the most part, coddled beyond the point of being useful in terms of the church community. Those in Rome are beyond redemption in the court of human experience. Heck, people kneel at their feet and kiss their rings! I remember learning about how wrong it is to have false gods. If nuns went on strike, the bishops would have no idea how to get things done. They can't -- and won't -- roll up their sleeves and pitch in to do the work required to run the schools, hospitals and charities. Hurrah for the LCWR and other groups that have the guts to stand up to this nonsense!

The nuns should stick to

The nuns should stick to their guns, err, principles. The men in charge of the Catholic Church are running it into the ground, and these nuns would not be the first order to break away. Many of the principles those men, including the pope, cardinals and bishops, claim to uphold, are not ones Jesus would endorse. The men need to stop protecting pedophiles, allow priests to marry and women to be priests, get over their gender superiority syndrome, and be more forgiving and more Christ-like.

Does anyone understand that

Does anyone understand that religion is a true dictatorship?

Cheers to the nuns!

Cheers to the nuns!

As a Catholic, I am sick of

As a Catholic, I am sick of these pedifile hiding bishops telling anybody what to do!

That's a pretty sweeping

That's a pretty sweeping generalization. The fact that there are pedophiles in the Catholic Church doesn't mean all of them, or even a large number, are pedophiles.

I'm sick of religious people trying to set policy for the rest of the world because they don't think clearly. (A fallacy on my part as an example.)

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