Yesterday the Vatican took a blow torch to the leadership conference of American nuns.  Rome said the in the nuns’ leadership there was a prevalence of certain radical themes  incompatible with the Catholic faith.  American nuns did not sufficiently support the church’s teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage and the ordination of women priests.  The Bishop of Seattle has been appointed to shake up the nuns’ leadersip conference from top to bottom.

Sister Joan Chittister says this another Vatican attempt to control people just for what they are thinking.

Should the Vatican crack down on American nuns?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    To be clear, the Vatican is trying to take complete control of LCWR, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the US. This group represents the majority of US Sisters. The Vatican has issued an 8-page “Doctrinal Assessment” which you can find in many places if you Google it.

    Should the Vatican have done this? No, of course not, but it is an action certainly in keeping with its right-wing leaning and need to control women.

    What should the LCWR do at this point? Understandably, they need time to process this extreme attack, and they have expressed this need on their website. However, if I was the LCWR, I would ditch their canonical status, go underground if necessary, and accomplish a lot more that way. This is in keeping with the advice of Joan Chittister, the Benedictine Sister who is a former Director of LCWR. I think she’s right.

  2. 2

    Could the Vatican get more despicable?

  3. 3
    Cate McB Says:

    Well, there was the inquisition ……

    The problem is that it keeps happening in different forms. If you want to read an interesting recent book on this subject, try the following:

    By Cullen Murphy
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

  4. 4
    Cate McB Says:

    To be even clearer, the current attack on LCWR comes from the all-powerful CDF: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a huge part of head-office at the Vatican. The current Pope ran this thing for 20+ years.

    Let’s remember also that up until 1908, this unit was called The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition.

    For this & more info, check out the above book.

  5. 5
    Janus Bellator Says:

    I think this is going to be a very interesting test of Vatican’s “authority,” as they see it. And I think Vatican is the gang who will be shaken, not the nuns. They think they are dealing with old-world, obedient, subservient women. Boy, are they in for a surprise!

  6. 6
    Neil McKenty Says:

    As I understand it from now on any speakers at a nuns’ event will have to be vetted and approved by church authorities. Can you believe it.

  7. 7
    Cate McB Says:

    Dame Janus,

    Its going to take a lot more than bravado to overcome this divide and conquer attack from the Vatican.

    The LCWR has 2 very difficult options:

    (1) Accept the takeover and ‘get with the program’ so to speak, hoping maybe that something hopeful may come out of it eventually. I can’t imagine what would really be hopeful, however.

    (2) Dump their official, canonical status as a leadership group representing US Catholic nuns. Although this has many pros including what can be accomplished incognito, the downside is that this move is an open invitation for the Vatican to go after individual nuns in individual congregations. Individual congregations may or may not support the individual nun in question, especially because the congregation as a whole may not wish to lose their official canonical status and the real estate that comes with it, especially now that the majority of the nuns are older.

  8. 8
    Janus Bellator Says:

    Does anyone still not get that “authority” is merely assumed and never guaranteed? And that it is wholly dependent upon the acceptance of those over whom it is being held?

    When Catholic women realize that they actually DO hold the balance of power, Vatican will do one of two things: fold or get in line.

  9. 9
    Cate McB Says:

    Dame Janus,

    It’s fine to talk about “authority” in theory — everyone gets it. But the specific realities and vulnerabilities within this struggle of authority defy the theory.

    And re: “the balance of power”: if ordinary citizens, women & men by the thousands were to rise up and stand with the LCWR and the Sisters they represent, maybe then the Sisters might actually hold the balance of power.

  10. 10
    Janus Bellator Says:

    Cate, you just said exactly what I said using different terminology.

  11. 11

    Once again, Cate, thank you for the informative comments. I looked up God’s Jury & read the synopsis and comments. Very interesting. I had no idea. I left the Catholic church in the 60’s when I had a row with a priest on the subject of birth control. He said I was going to hell…I was 20 years old! It left a life long impression on me and it took a long time for me to renew my faith.
    Unlike other religions who strive to learn, recruit and teach, the Catholic organization feel they have “a lock” on the hereafter. 😉

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