Sunday, April 22, 2012

God rolls her eyes: Vatican vs. nuns

The Pope is gunning for uppity nuns.

That is, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)*, has announced a five-year doctrinal crushing reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella organisation that represents about 80% of the 57,000 nuns in this country.

To that end, the CDF has appointed the Archbishop of Seattle, J. Peter Sartain, to lead the reform. Sartain (reportedly a moderate) and two others bishops have been tasked with forcing LCWR to kiss the ring of the Conference of Bishops. The Vatican is tired of nuns not attacking abortion, not denying birth control, and daring to suggest that healthcare for poor people is a pretty good idea. Mostly, though, the Catholic powers that be are bent out of shape by nuns challenging "positions taken by the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."**

The CDF's eight-page doctrinal assessment of LCWR says, basically: God is a boy, the Pope is a boy, and Bishops are boys, so you girls just shut up! But don't take my word for it. Read the document. Note the Orwellian language. If you're in a hurry read the AP report in the Christian Science Monitor. But you'll miss some of the creepy tenor of the original.

If it sounds as though I'm making light of this it's just to keep from getting on a plane and beating the pope bloody with a bible.

This is a deadly serious matter. Nuns are at the forefront of the social justice movement in this country. We absolutely need their voice and their back-breaking work on the behalf of the underprivileged and downtrodden.

Why is the Vatican doing this now? Well, it started four years ago. And the pace picked up after Obama's healthcare reform . This is just the latest move.  This three year-old New York Times piece will give you some background. (I'll wait.)

So there have been two investigations going on, CDF's doctrinal assessment and Mother Clare's apostolic visitation. For my money, the latter is more serious. Go watch the video on the apostolic visitation website. More shiver-inducing than an M.R. James story. Truly, seriously unpleasant.

I would pay to see Mother Clare and Hild in a cage match. Bear in mind Hild carries a slaughter seax with a bitter edge. If that thought doesn't cheer you up, perhaps this will:

These nuns are not going to just roll over. I think the Vatican is about to precipitate a serious conflict. I wouldn't be surprised if, five years from now, the American Catholic church splits right down the middle. And, no, that won't please me. I grew up a Catholic. I left the church when I was sixteen: I never believed in god and I loathe/d the inherent misogyny of Catholicism. But I always liked the nuns. The nuns are the best part of the church. They are Hild's successors.

* The CDF used to be the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, the wonderful people who gave their name to the Inquisition that began in the sixteenth century (and lasted into the 18th).
** And, as our neighbour put it the other day, "They just can't stand lady parts--which includes a superior brain."
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