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Today's Nuns versus the Vatican

I’ve been following with great interest the continuing story of the Vatican’s reprimand of the 57,000 member US Catholic Nuns organization.   Instead of getting down on their hands and knees and thanking these women for all of the good work they do with the poor in our country and their efforts on behalf of social justice, while so meaningfully representing what is left of the best of Catholic ideals, these old men are bitching because these nuns did not take the time to get involved in the politically highly charged abortion and gay marriage issues.  This from a group of old fogies who sit in a gold laden country within a larger country thousands of miles away from the nitty gritty facts of life that these women deal with on a daily basis.

Talk about audacity, the Vatican also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by American bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops - "who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals" - is unacceptable, the report said.  Let me repeat this, American bishops, "who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."  Well if these American bishops are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, so many of whom shuffled child molesters from parish to parish and let children suffer for decades at the hands of other “authentic teachers of faith and morals,” then the church is in deeper trouble than it appears.

Currently there are 57,000 nuns in this organization, which represents most of the nuns in the US.  As a child growing up in the 50s and 60s attending Catholic schools, it seemed to me there were 57,000 nuns just in the Albany Diocese where I lived.  For years people have been asking where all the nuns have gone.  Some say that they’re still here; they just don’t wear the habits any more.   All you have to do is walk into any Catholic school and count the number of lay teachers versus nuns and you know it’s not the clothes.

It’s representative of a church that refuses to recognize that women and men are equals.  A premise they got away with until the late 60’s when women started thinking beyond what they were taught as they grew up. When women who would have added to the growth and expansion of the catholic faith began to walk away from a patriarchal system that they knew in their hearts was wrong.

It’s almost like the Catholic Church has a death wish.  By refusing to evolve, by digging in their heels and adhering to the writings of men who knew Jesus but wrote of him decades after his crucifixion when they themselves were old men, and whose words have probably been reinterpreted a thousand times over the years, the Catholic church no longer sounds true.  Not only that, they’ve also lost the free labor of those millions of nuns who were the backbone of the Catholic school system over the years.  As a result, very few families can afford to pay for a Catholic education in today’s world, an education that propagated the Catholic faith.


It appears the Vatican fails to understand that they do not have the exclusive rights to Jesus.  There are many branches of Christian faith where a person can express their beliefs in Jesus and his teachings that believe that all of their parishioners and clergy are equal. 

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Lynn Esposito
4/21/2012 11:52:51 PM
Bravo Janice,
Clear and strong and on point. Nicely written.
I'd love to see these nuns reform the church that's trying to reform them.
I sometimes think the church's "moral authority" has been so damaged that it is desperate to employ it. It's own congregation will now openly disregard some of its rules.
I'm amazed it still has such influence. May be its last hurrah.
Look forward to more on this.....and more blogs from you.
Janice Styles-Hall
4/21/2012 5:04:51 PM
Catholic nuns
Janice, well said. I continue to be amazed at how they "don't get it". Thank God for every one of these nuns and their dedication.
4/21/2012 12:22:05 PM
I agree, Serena, that no one has to belong to any particular faith. When I wrote that last paragraph, I was thinking about how sad so many of those women who have committed their lives to the Catholic Church must feel right now. How disappointed they must feel that their dedication and good work was pushed aside for a political purpose. Perhaps even feeling un-anchored from a structured, loving, organization. My purpose was to encourage those women to think outside the box ... that there are many organizations where they could express their love for the teachings of Jesus that would embrace them and appreciate them for who they are.
Serena Nance Curran
4/21/2012 11:21:06 AM
Well, Janice, you tell it like it is. Love that. And I agree with your comments on the Bible and the many translations. Yet, there are people who still believe each word in it.
And I was just add that one does not have to be a member of any faith, Christian or not, to choose to have a connection to Jesus and to his message of love. For me, his story can be seen as an allegory for the process of spiritual transformation that is available to everyone.
Cheers on a great blogpost!
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