The disobedient nuns had their annual meeting last week in St Louis. (How appropriate. I wonder if they always hold their meetings in a saintly or otherwise piously-named city. They have a lot to choose from – St Paul, San Antonio, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Santa Fe, Providence…)
They’re not defying, but they’re not giving in, either. Maybe they’re just playing for time.
American nuns described as dissenters in a Vatican report that ordered an overhaul of their group said Friday they will talk with church leaders about potential changes but will not compromise on the sisters’ mission.
Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, called the Vatican assessment of the organization a “misrepresentation.” But she said the more than 900 women who attended the group’s national assembly this week decided they would for now stay open to discussion with three bishops the Vatican appointed to oversee them.
The thing about that of course is that it’s not discussion that the Vatican intends. The Vatican doesn’t consider itself a partner in dialogue with a buncha nuns. The Vatican is telling them what’s what, not chatting.
The nuns must know that, but the plan seems to be to pretend they don’t. The bishops helpfully spell it out for them every chance they get, but the nuns go on pretending (or really not understanding, but that seems hard to credit).
“The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission,” Farrell said at a news conference, where she declined to discuss specifics.
“As long as possible” – playing for time.
The St. Louis meeting was the group’s first national gathering since a Vatican review concluded the sisters had “serious doctrinal problems” and promoted “certain radical feminist themes” that undermine Catholic teaching on all-male priesthood, birth control and homosexuality. The nuns also were criticized for remaining nearly silent in the fight against abortion.
Radical feminist – me, Rebecca, and the nuns.
“I think what we want is to finally, at some end stage of the process, to be recognized and understood as equal in the church, that our form of religious life can be respected and affirmed,” Farrell said Friday.
She said she wanted to create [a] church environment that allows them to “openly and honestly search for truth together, to talk about issues that are very complicated and there is not that climate right now.”
No there isn’t, but then that’s the nature of the Catholic church.