Agence France-Presse reports that the Vatican is at it again, adding to a long list of missteps by attacking U.S. women religious for their “liberal views.”
According to the news report, "The Vatican has issued a scathing condemnation of the main association of Catholic nuns in the United States for taking liberal stances on contraception, homosexuality and female priests."
Citing "serious doctrinal problems" the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has appointed an Archbishop –a man– to investigate and oversee The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents 45,000 U.S. nuns.
If the Church is looking to send a message and set a tone, this appointment certainly has.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of a Catholic lobby group is quoted in response to the Vatican crackdown: "It's painfully obvious that the leadership of the Church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue. We haven't violated any teachings."
As a volunteer consultant to the Dominican Sisters, I can tell you that what I have seen is a community devoted to service to the Church, the poor, and society at large. It is a community whose average age is 75. Most entered religious life in the 1960's, during the Renaissance of Vatican Two.
That's a lifetime of service to the Church.
Like anywhere, you find a diversity of views, both left and right. I have heard some vigorous conversation about the role of the Church, and women religious, in today's world. What I have never seen or heard is anything remotely akin to the "corporate dissent" or "radical feminist views" that LCWR is charged with.
I see and hear women who are deply concerned about injustice, poverty, education, literacy and health care issues. I also see and hear women searching for ways to make a difference in the world as their community ages and declines.
The Church, from my vantage point, is made better by it's women religious. They are a treasure to be acknowledged and supported. Instead, they are being investigated.
At least the Vatican is consistent. They fumbled the child abuse file. They are fumbling the ball again on this crackdown.
© Patrick O’Neill 2012. All rights reserved.