(RNS) Catholic nuns in the U.S. have been thumbing their nose at Rome’s demands to toe the doctrinal line and they need to obey or face serious consequences, the Vatican’s enforcer of orthodoxy said in a surprisingly tough talk to women representing most American sisters.

Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is pictured in a Jan. 11 photo in Rome. Photo by Paul Haring/courtesy Catholic News Service

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Photo by Paul Haring/courtesy Catholic News Service


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“The Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the church,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told four members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Mueller said the LCWR — which represents about 80 percent of the more than 50,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S. – is dependent on the Vatican for its bona fides as a church body. He indicated that the group’s status, and the Catholic faith of the sisters, was at risk if they did not heed Rome’s directives.

“Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase … we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” Mueller said.

Mueller’s talk was dated April 30, apparently at the opening of talks with the four LCWR leaders; it was published by the Vatican on Monday (May 5).

The cardinal twice acknowledged that his talk was “blunt,” and indeed his remarks were the toughest since the Vatican takeover of LCWR was announced in 2012. “What I must say is too important to dress up in flowery language,” he said at one point.

While his comments seemed to reverse expectations that the crisis was on the way toward a resolution, the LCWR leaders who met with Mueller appeared to downplay the impact of the cardinal’s criticisms.

“As articulated in the cardinal’s statement, these remarks were meant to set a context for the discussion that followed,” the sisters said Monday from Rome, where they are holding talks with Vatican officials.

“The actual interaction with Cardinal Mueller and his staff was an experience of dialogue that was respectful and engaging,” they added. The LCWR leaders — Sisters Carol Zinn, Florence Deacon, Sharon Holland and Janet Mock — declined all interview requests.

When the Vatican censure was announced, both Rome and American bishops took a lot of heat from Catholics and the wider public, who embraced the nuns and bristled at the takeover.

Rome justified the move as necessary to ensure the group’s orthodoxy. The Vatican accused the sisters of being too focused on social justice work, and said they did not sufficiently promote church orthodoxy, especially on issues like gay marriage and abortion.

The Vatican appointed three U.S. bishops, led by Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, to have final say on speakers at the LCWR’s annual meeting and approval over other matters.

As some American bishops worked behind the scenes to ease the tensions with the sisters, Pope Francis’ election last year also seemed to signal a detente. As a Jesuit, Francis is a member of a religious order himself and has often expressed solidarity with other religious orders of men and women.

Last June, he told a group of priests and sisters from Latin America not to worry too much if they get a critical letter from Mueller’s office, but to deal with it and move on. The pope also retained officials at Vatican congregations who are seen as more sympathetic to the LCWR.

But Francis also kept on Mueller, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI soon after the action against the LCWR was unveiled. The cardinal told the nuns that he was particularly upset by two developments:

One was the LCWR’s ongoing focus on a topic called “conscious evolution,” which was the subject of the LCWR’s annual conference two years ago. In Rome, it’s seen as a nebulous, New Age-sounding concept of spiritual development that critics say is unmoored from traditional Christian doctrine.

“The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors,” Mueller said, warning that the American nuns were straying from the basics of the faith and from the Catholic Church itself.

A second point of contention, Mueller said, is that the LCWR is honoring a prominent Catholic theologian, Sister Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham University, at this year’s conference in August despite the fact that one of Johnson’s recent books was challenged by the U.S. bishops as straying from accepted doctrine.

Johnson vigorously rejected those charges — and was supported by a broad swath of the Catholic theological guild — as she sought to engage the bishops in discussions. But the overture was rejected.

The choice to honor Johnson without Sartain’s approval, Mueller said, “will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See. … Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the bishops as well.”

Mueller said that if Sartain had been informed, Johnson may not have been chosen. He said he would not attempt to undo the invitation to Johnson but said that Sartain must have final say over next year’s LCWR convention, adding that the Vatican mandate is now “fully in force.”

KRE/AMB END GIBSON

59 Comments

  1. This is great! People need to rebuked and we need real preaching
    again! Bible says Repent or perish! We sure don’t hear that anymore.
    Far too many “preachers” have a book to sell/only want to talk about
    gay marriage and/or abortion so their sin doesn’t seem so bad and
    so they don’t have to face their own sin. Too many churches today
    are about socializing,finding a good spouse,music,fun and pizza parties.
    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that
    drunkards go to hell. The wine that Jesus made was new wine/diluted
    and the Bible says don’t get drunk on strong wine so people who get
    drunk with wine are also wrong! Gambling,getting drunk,gossip,coveting,
    smoking dope/cigars,hate,discord,sleeping around/sexual immorality all
    are out of control and need to be confronted. If people say they love Jesus
    and then don’t follow the Bible no Truth is in them! We must Repent/follow!

    • Is this satire? Where in Scripture are cigars condemned? Pius X smoked cigars.

      As for the LCWR, they should just soldier on. I get the distinct impression that Sartain took on this job of “supervising” the nuns under duress and it wouldn’t surprise me if he decides to walk away from it.

      The idea of the Curial bureaucracy thundering against American nuns when the laced princes turned a blind eye toward clerical sexual abuse for YEARS is risible.

      • Dwight- Smokin cigars/dope/cigarettes,getting drunk/putting anything
        in your body that messes with His creation is not of God…Period! Our
        bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and many today think they can
        just live however and say whatever/sleep around. Bible is clear people
        who do/practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven!
        If someone sees a Christian smokin a cigar/dope/getting drunk what
        kind of witness is that? If people see Christians smoking dope/cigars
        and getting drunk then they will think it’s okay to do it and stumble into
        sin. Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven!
        Christians should no be getting drunk,gambling,mean,sleeping around,
        smoking dope/cigars/cigarettes,gossips,selling sex,coveting…Period!
        Not enough to just believe in Jesus! We must Repent/follow Him!

      • Basil Damukaitis

        Dwight, are you out of your bloody mind? Do you realize what these women are professing isn’t even Christian? And seriously, do you think that just because a corporate body made some mistakes means it’s ok for others to do the same? DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL???? Are you saying someone must be perfect and have lived a perfect life in order gently criticize???

        AND you are forgetting the last acceptable cover-up from the LCWR is sex abuse by nuns, yes, it has happened, and they are stonewalling investigations. So, dear man, get your head on straight, think logically.

        AND less you think these poor girls are being persecuted after all the good they’ve done, THEY HAVEN’T!! The nuns who built the finest school systems and hospital systems this country and this world has EVER known are long dead and very very few are alive. The current nuns who run the LCWR are the very ones who orchestrated hostile takeovers of their religious congregation, silencing anyone who came in their way. I know this from personal stories of nuns with tears in their eyes who were shoved out to pasture so these “sisters” could take over the leadership and monetary assets of their congregations.

        Oh, and by the way, the LCWR is dying off anyway. They’ll all be dead in a matter of years. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious represent sisters who are faithful to Catholic teaching, and all the religious communities in this canonical organization are growing by leaps and bounds, accepting novices who haven’t reached menopause (and are actually in their 20′s), and are filling convents as quickly as they can build them.

        • The Great God Pan

          “Are you saying someone must be perfect and have lived a perfect life in order gently criticize???”
          == Damukaitis

          “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
          Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
          Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
          == Jesus

    • Wow. So there are bad people and they do bad things and God will “smite” them.

      Ever had a blood transfusion-you or a loved one’s life saved? Who exactly gave the blood and what were their beliefs and the content of their soul?

  2. CarrotCakeMan

    Imagine the creepy Vatican telling the good American Sisters they are “insufficiently homophyobic”! What’s the matter, won’t the good Sisters commit criminal acts to poison our political process the way the bishops have done? The federal judge who revoked the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote had in his possession an email written by Catholic bishops to Mormon leaders in which they both agreed to violate California campaign finance laws to throw the H8te Vote by making secret, illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote. The email serves as proof positive they knew they were breaking the law; the email itself is an act of criminal collusion. Here is documentation about that email:

    latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/documents-show-close-links-between-prop-8-campaign-and-mormon-catholic-churches.html#comments

  3. How dare the nuns become humanitarians!

    “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    • Peace, Max! Since this is a Catholic issue about Sisters in the LCWR, you might be interested in how the Roman Catholic Church (which composed the books of the bible) lives out its belief regarding sacred scripture. We should not take a quote out of the Bible to use it for our own Glory or for vain reasons to puff our selves up. We seek to bring God’s holy word into the fullness of fruitfulness in God himself. We have to be very careful of using God’s word for our own purpose. God’s word is not to bring us into relationship with our selves but to bring us into a oneness of relationship with God himself. God’s word is to free ourselves so we can do the works of God.
      You have taken a quote from Luke and have interpreted it for your own sake. This is not how the Church interprets that section of scripture. Jesus is telling a parable of the Ten Gold Coins, and as you know a parable is a story with a purpose of teaching. The Catholic church lives by 3 very important realities. Encountering Jesus in his sacred word, sacred tradition which has been around for thousands of years and the teaching magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit is God. Since we believe in the Holy Trinity — The Trinity is One. We do not profess three gods, but one God in three persons. It is a mystery but it is all about relationship etc. So we just don’t grab a section of scripture and interpret it to prove (OUR) personal point. The Catholic church will always need reformation but what happened with Luther was not reformation but revolution, a big difference and God asked that we be one, not a divided church — so all these broken off churches are not what Jesus asked for at the last supper– Father I pray that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” John 17:21 There is great work and dialogue for years to come until we really live what Jesus has asked of us . IT is scandalous reality for those who are not Christian to see all these different churches claiming to be the one Jesus started and wants, then there are cults around which claim they are Christian — Life is complicated. Keep reading the sacred word but may you find Jesus as the one to meet instead of just quotes to fling out at others –

      • @Noel,

        You said, “You have taken a quote from Luke and have interpreted it for your own sake.”

        Good grief. Apparently the only ‘right’ interpretation for Jesus’ words “EXECUTE THEM” is your interpretation; which I’m guessing means god is a loving God?

        Jesus was impatient to burn civilization
        and destroy everything that humans had tried hard to solve!

        “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I tell you, but division.” – Jesus – (Luke 12:49-51)

        The NUNS were not acting like this rabid sociopath named JESUS. They were trying to be humane and trying to act like normal people.

        Instead they have been reminded by the Holy See to go back to smashing civilization. This is disgraceful nonsense.

        • Hi Max, Peace! I’ve never met an Atheists who hated Jesus so much as you do. It is better to be hot or cold then lukewarm, cause no one likes lukewarm drinks when they should be cold or hot. It is great to know He is alive cause he is very alive to you and me too! You see, we both like to talk about Jesus. Hope to meet you in heaven one day — in God’s mercy of course!

          • @Noel,

            You are completely correct that I hate religion. With a great passion.
            It is the hoax of the eons.

            Jesus was just a man who had some mixed up ideas – some good like the Samaritan story where he celebrates the impulse to ‘find pity’ on someone in need – but most of what Jesus is said to have preached is primitive, barbaric and are horrible.

            “Drown them”
            “Execute them”
            “Burn up” civilizations.
            What nonsense.

            I have no desire to go to any heaven and I routinely renounce the nonsense of “the holy spirit” (just to make it clear).

            Religion comes from childish, fearful impulses and it needs to be abandoned before the world is blown up for no reason.

  4. US nuns with any sense and self-respect should tell the current inquisition chief at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to go to that nether world that was invented along with heaven in the mythological origins of religion.

    This is the reason the Catholic Church will die very soon unless it is saved by dividing into national, self-governing groups, including the full participation of non-clergy in all matters, ridding themselves of doctrinal dictation like anything from the past, even the recent past of Ratzinger, Levada, and now Mueller.

    Belief to be honest must be free. That means it cannot be dictated, even under the guise of “protection” by any “holy office.” Without that kind of revolutionary change in church management, death is the only alternative. Without death, there can be no resurrection.

    • Hi Gilhcan — So what is freedom? What is Your definition of freedom? Every time I see a red light when I drive, They tell me it is against the law to go through it. That is a dictation and they say it protects others tool. Who are they to tell me what to do? What is law, what is freedom? If I a country begins to say it is alright to kill people who have blue eyes because it is now the law– so the majority is the ruler of law and so called freedom? Who decides what freedom really is — you? Me? or maybe a thousand people have the right to decide what freedom is? What is freedom Gilhcan?

      • Jamie who can't believe

        THIS IS FREEDOM:
        “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion”

        And you should make a note of it because it is there to protect you, too!

        • Jamie, that’s not freedom that is being a dictator or in a totalitarian state. All people should have the right to communion with God. Congress is not suppose to tell you what religion you should belong too but it is there to protect our rights to religious liberty. Religion is the basic fabric of most cultures. To force people to believe in a religion or to take away (religion) which is a part of the very fabric of our country from the beginning, is not very American. People came to our country ( Puritans) so they could worship freely. Some still come to our country to find a place where they may practice their faith without being killed, martyred.

          • @NOEL,

            “All people should have the right to communion with God.”

            HAS EVERYONE GONE CRAZY???
            YOU HAD THAT RIGHT ALL ALONG!

            Why are you religious fascists forcing it on the rest of us ?????????????????????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!

          • @NOEL,

            “To force people to believe in a religion or to take away (religion) which is a part of the very fabric of our country from the beginning, is not very American.”

            NUCLEAR POWERED FACEPALM!!!!!
            THAT IS EXACTLY WHY I OBJECT TO THE FREAKIN’ SCOTUS DECISION!!!

  5. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Three Cheers for Cardinal Mueller. In our culture where the only orthodoxy is to attack orthodox Catholic teaching it takes courage for anyone–even a Cardinal– to speak the truth to those whose beliefs are more formed by the media than by the Bible or Church Teachings.

      • The doctrine committee of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, under Cardinal Wuerl at the time, stated its beef very clearly. That beef was that of the USCCB, not the Vatican. And it was simply that anyone, especially a woman, would dare to think outside the box that men had built, and admit that humans do not know the Infinite.

        Johnson’s “Quest for the Living God” was no more than a very proper admission that humans are not God, are not equal to God, will never be equal to God, or else humans, in the ways religion originated in ancient mythology, would be gods.

        The USCCB men again made fools of themselves by allowing such disgraceful behavior by Wuerl and his committee to represent them in their attempt to once again, as does Cardinal Mueller, put women in their place.

      • Of course he can’t because it’s a meme not based in reality that has taken on a life of its own. Many Catholics who believe they (and only they) are orthodox are more interested in religious theory than a lived discipleship.

  6. David A Bliss

    I am a convert from mainline protestantism. I have seen too many congregations compromise on Jesus to go a way which is more in line with the secular values of modern society. I came to the Catholic Church since it still insisted on the Truth of Jesus’ gospel. Truth is more important than anything. More important than unity, attendance, money, anything. If we do not stand for the Truth, then eventually we will die. Something the atheists and secularists would love, but I think Jesus is too valuable to betray.
    This move against the nuns is overdue.

    • David, everyone, including religious congregations, has the right to practice their faith as they genuinely conceive it as long as it harms no one else. If those practices help others, so much the better. There is a vital need to separate one’s mind from institution and ritual and begin practicing the corporal works of mercy. After all, we are corporal.

      Why are you ready to submit your thinking and your inspiration to dictates from others. It is one thing to attend to teachers, it is quite another to mature and think for oneself.

  7. David-Well said! People today seem to forget that Jesus said many will
    say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! Preachers needs to speak
    the Truth! Bible says Repent or perish but we sure don’t hear that much
    today. People can sing songs and claim to be Christian all they want but
    if they don’t Repent they are going to hell. Jesus said you are one of Mine
    only if you continue in My teachings and follow Me! We have a whole church
    full of people singing songs but not Repenting. We must Repent/follow Him!

  8. I fully support orthodoxy and I’m very respectful of those in authority in the Church, but I’m still confused as to why the sisters are being rebuked. The sister’s congregations have remained faithful to their particular charisms which call for them to be socially active in society, and now, it seems, they are being rebuked for feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? The Vatican, with all due respect, must spell out in clear terms what the sisters have done wrong and I don’t think it has yet. I believe the sister’s faith is at least as mature as that of many bishops who lost sight of their own ministries when they allowed wicked clerics to prey upon innocent children. I trust the sister’s faith and their ability to renew themselves and overcome whatever errors in their midst without undue interference or threats from Rome. I pray for a charitable and fruitful dialog to replace the dictates of authority in this relationship.

    • Pope Francis is preaching mercy and acceptance, and Mueller is busting the chops of the women who are on the front lines of feeding the sick, educating children, caring for the poor and neglected, and honoring the charters of their orders.

      The institutional Church has to be concerned about its credibility and this does not help.

      • Basil Damukaitis

        Dwight, you are sorely mistaken regarding Pope Francis. No, he is not preaching acceptance and mercy. He is preaching the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who accepts people, all people, but NOT all ideas. Mercy, yes, for those who ask for it. Pope Francis already laicized, removed a priest from the priesthood because he is a heretic (May 2013, Australia).

        There is no thing as the “Institutional Church”. There is only “The Church” And if you are referring to Cardinal Dulles’ book, Models of the Church, it was meant to describe its different functions which are all intertwined, so don’t use terms about which you know nothing.

        It’s clear you know precious little about Catholicism or religious life. The purpose of religious life is NOT to do good works. The purpose is to be a public eschatological witness of the Christian life. No matter how many hungry they feed, that will not gain them salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ and how faithfully they lived and believed Christ Jesus and his teachings, revealed and handed down to the apostles and their successors, the bishops is how they will be judged. We don’t go to heaven for being a nice person or doing good things. It is part of it, but not the central point.

        • Basil, if “acceptance and mercy” are not the Gospels, there are no Gospels! If you do not recognize that Francis has been preaching “acceptance and mercy,” doing good, then you have not been following him at all–except somewhat ceremonially.

          You make religion and church nothing but magic ritual, meaningless, pretty talk. When Gospel talk or any other has no relationship to people and living, they are worthless. You build the wrong kind of wall between church and people. Your institutional church ideas find absolutely no substance in the Gospels.

          What is the “central point” of religion, of the Gospels, of Jesus? The only life we know on earth–before heaven.

        • Basil
          Please note Matthew chaper 25 v.35 which reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”
          This is what Jesus said , it’s not about keeping your theology that is important . Please read more the bible

          • Therese-What Basil said about theology is right on! If someone
            does good works and they have bad theology they still go to hell.
            Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord did we not do so
            many wonderful works in Your name and the Lord will tell
            them plainly depart from Me you are a worker of iniquity I
            never knew you! We are to do good works/help people but
            only Repenting/trusting in Christ gets us into heaven! The
            Bible says that good works don’t get us in heaven so nobody
            can boast! If people still get drunk,sleep around,gamble,are
            mean/have bad theology then doing some/a few good works
            won’t matter! Repentance/faith in/trusting Jesus saves us! Bible
            says Repent or perish! The first sermon Jesus gave was Repent
            for the kingdom of heaven is near! Read all of the Bible.
            1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters are a great start.
            If people don’t Repent/trust Jesus they are not saved…Period!

        • Peace Basil, You are a voice crying out in the wildness on this site. To be a sister is to experience Christ calling you to be his forever. A spiritual bond. Many sisters say they see it in a deeper manner but one does not give pearls to swine as their is too much Catholic ignorance or hate on this site. Works are the fruit of a sisters relationship with Christ but the works do not make you a sister. The greatest work of Christ was his suffering on the cross for the salvation of humanity. Jesus reminded Judas that the poor you will always have with you but me you will not always have, he was supporting the woman who washed his feet before his death. She anointed his feet with costly ointment and Judas wanted that money to be given to the poor, as you recall from scared scripture. Thanks Basil for knowing your faith! We need evangelizes out there cause so many Catholics in the USA are ignorant of their faith and don’t even know Jesus!

          • We are all called to be Christ’s forever, which is sealed at our baptism. Nuns need to grow beyond role playing the religious engenou and mature into Christian disciples who serve as Christ did.

        • I get it now. A Mafia hitman who believes in Chirst, kills, repents, kills, repents, confesses, etc goes to Heaven buried in consecrated ground having never done a good deed in his life. Thanks.

    • Sometimes people forget that a sister is not a social worker. The function of Religious life “is mainly and ultimately and pervasively to extend the Kingdom of God in the hearts and minds of all people.” Fr Hardon, sj
      Sisters vow to God and (they are daughters of the Church) They make a perpetual promise of
      obedience, Chasity and poverty. No one forces a sister to take these vows either. They usually have 9 years before they take their final vows. Plenty of time to leave and change their minds. Even Jesus obeyed the laws of Judaism, even Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in obedience to Jewish law. If LCWR doesn’t like what the church teaches and wants to be its own interpretation of the church -, then there is something wrong with LCWR. No matter what charitable works they do for others, work is not what makes a sister a sister.

      • Your romantic fantasies of habited nuns are not reality. There can be a lot of dysfunction hidden behind those plastered smiles. I was one and I know that not every sister is responding to a call from Christ. We all need to mature, be responsible for our actions and decisions, and move beyond our fantasies.

  9. Mueller is continuing proof, like his three most recent predecessors, Ottaviani, Ratzinger, and Levada, that if Francis really wants to make changes for good directions in the church, he will have to rid the curia of such autocrats who really think they have the right or the ability to dictate the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of others, that those who are not submissive to their authoritarianism, are “disobedient” or not good.

    Mueller should be sent back to Germany along with Benedict. Benedict’s shadow should be removed from the Vatican gardens. Retirement should not allow hovering over the shoulder of one’s successor!

  10. samuel Johnston

    I hate to side with the devil*, but really folks, just take off the habit and do what you like, just do not claim to represent the Catholic Church. Alternatively, accuse your tormentors of not representing the Church. You simply cannot have it both ways.
    “Where I come from we call the folks who protest, Protestants!”

    (*the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)

    • And the Catholic Church needs nothing so much as a fast growing multitude of protestors. The people in the pews must make it clear to the clergy that this is their church too. After all, they pay all the bills. And they are no longer going to be treated like children–waiting to be sexually abused by the misfits in the sanctuaries.

    • I have to laugh, but you make a very good point.

      Most sane people would think that members of a church owe a greater duty to helping the poor and needy over extolling prejudices and pushing a political agenda.However, one must always bear in mind that churches set their own rules as to how their own behave.

      Nobody is compelled to become a nun. They do so with the notion that they will accept whatever authority the church creates for itself. That authority may be venal, self-serving and hypocritical, but it is one these people chose to have govern them. We don’t have to like it or accept it. We can criticize it, but have no reason to expect the church to change their behavior.

      Considering the Catholic Church is a rigid gender-enforced oligarchy, the only recourse the nuns have is to leave and make as big a stink as possible on their way out.

  11. Plainly put, it is past time in this very dividing and/or dying church that nuns everywhere plainly tell the misogynistic men in the Vatican, like Cardinal Mueller and his cronies in the U.S. like Archbishop Sartain, to “go to hell.” That would be scriptural! The nuns should call a screeching halt to this domination of their lives by men.

    These nuns are fully capable of determining their own thoughts, beliefs, and ways of life. They do not need any men hovering over them, approving the details of their behavior as if they were the female members of very conservative Islamic brands of religion.

    It may not be traditional, but Francis ought to fire autocrats like Meuller, not wait for retirement and death to end this reign of terror that came in with John Paul II, continued with Ratzinger/Benedict, and seems to be moving forward as long as Francis does not put the brakes to people like Mueller.

    Francis made Mueller a cardinal–because of his job–and it was clear that Mueller had a mind-set just like Benedict’s who appointed him to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That congregation was originally called the Holy Office of the Inquisition. It ought to be totally abolished!

    The average age of nuns in the U.S. is 73! They are getting very few aspirants. The culture is dying. Who would aspire to a life so dominated and humiliated by a gang of men that is so overwhelmingly loaded with sexual perverts?

    As for administering to gays, John Paul, Ratzinger/Benedict, Levada, and Mueller should be ashamed of themselves–in heaven or on earth–in the Vatican Gardens or in Long Beach, CA,–for being such hypocrites to the Gospels, to Jesus. We heard Ratzinger/Benedict’s distorted, ugly description of gay people. We do not need their administrations.

    Isn’t it obvious, even to those who haven’t studied the history of the church and its sacraments, that select men developed and felt they confirmed their domination over everyone else with their theological claims of priestly powers of transformation in the sacraments. It was a late and distorted greed for power that led to such claims. Clever that you cannot do without the male clergy because of its sacramental power, right?

    Pay attention to Martin Luther. Driven to examine church claims more deeply by the rank behavior of priests in Rome, he discovered what he called “The Priesthood of the People.” All authority, all strength resides in the People of God–and that includes the people in the pews, not just curial cardinals or their appointed gestapo agents like Sartain of Washington State.

    The people in the pews must stand against the curia and any other clergy who support these medieval tactics of Mueller and anyone else with his mindset. If Francis joins the people in the pews, fine. If not, let religious communities of women and men die out. Let the exodus from the church continue until there is only that submissive minority of illiterate, non-thinking members who are still ready to kiss the feet and rings of the hierarchy.

    Such hierarchy really think they are royal. They love dressing as royals. They thrive on obeisance and obedience. It is centuries past the time when the people of God who occupy the pews and pay all the bills begin to defend the real front guard of the church, the nuns being currently abused by Mueller. That is the only kind of Jesus-like revolution that will correct the awful conditions that are allowed to continue and make the church evil, like the sex scandal that has still not been uncovered.

  12. I really wonder what most of these folks think Sr E Johnson has said that upsets some in the Vatican?

    Do we remember Gamaliel’s rule of thumb about teaching which was being questioned? Leave it alone – if it’s not OK it will founder but if it’s on the right lines we might be opposing God if we move against it.

    Grow up, folks!

  13. A lot of people seem to be missing the point! This isn’t a question of these nuns believing what they want. This is a question of a CANONICAL organization departing from the doctrine, teaching, and positions of the organization whose auspices it exists under. They are, effectively, uniformed representatives of the faith. What is more, what of their vows of obedience? Its a simple question of eccelsiology 101. It is the bishops JOB to oversee doctrine and canonical organizations. Monastics typically operate free of the authority of the local diocese, but not of their patriarchs. They are beholden to the central ecclesiastic authority of their church. What of their vows of obedience? Or the humility to take correction on doctrinal matters? Those are a part and parcel of being in orders to begin with! If they wish to LEAVE the Roman Catholic Church and cease to be under its jurisdiction, they are entitled to do so. But to remain in the Church while ignoring their vows and denying the ecclesiastic authority of their bishops (including the Vicar of Rome) in doctrinal matters? That is untenable vanity and unmitigated gall. This on top of the fact that it is the role of monastics to care for the poor and be in a constant state of prayer. They change the world through kindness and care, not politicking, activism, and theological speculation. They would be well-served to remember what their role is.

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