Lose the young, then lose the women

Now that he has put in place policies that are alienating young Catholics, Pope Ratzi is turning his attention to turning off women. As if the church’s policies opposing contraception were not enough, he now reprimanded a large group of US nuns known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and appoint a bishop as overseer of their activities because they “had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.””

[The Conference is] an umbrella organization of women’s religious communities, and claims 1,500 members who represent 80 percent of the Catholic sisters in the United States. It was formed in 1956 at the Vatican’s request, and answers to the Vatican, said Sister Annmarie Sanders, the group’s communications director.”

The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage. [ My italics]

Isn’t that just like women? Without a man to keep an eye on them, they get ideas above their station and start spouting off on matters they know nothing about.

Way to put women in their place, Ratzi! It looks like your plan is to create a purely older and male church, which seems somehow weirdly appropriate.


  1. baal says

    He’s trying to drag (the world?) screaming and kicking back to the 1300’s. I think I read a piece on him back at his anointing for pope that said he wanted to renew the purity of the church. Pure = power and all. Purity necessitate purges so I can’t say I’m all against him since it means more folks will leave once they see his biased and controlling acts (and thus the Catholic Church’s).

  2. says

    Of course the ideal solution to this would be for those nuns to recognize that religion is all a farce and their God is a myth, but short of that, I think it would be very helpful to see them turn this into the new schism. Let the rebel nuns separate from the Vatican and create their own church. The sisters are the ones who actually have something positive to offer society. The Catholic Church is not worthy of their membership.

  3. cathyw says

    …and yet I don’t think they will, unless forced to by wide-scale excommunications or the like, especially when you consider that a lot of American Catholics have a history of rolling their eyes at reactionary pronouncements from the top and getting on with their lives.

  4. steve oberski says

    And hopefully with a protracted and very public legal battle over assets conducted under adversarial US civil law.

  5. Desert Son, OM says

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know if there’s ever been a historical religion that, whenever a sub-group broke with doctrine, actually said, “Yeah, that’s cool. Go for it, we support the right of our members to develop their own understanding and would encourage current congregations to check out the new group and see what they have to offer.”

    The nearest that I can think of is the (possibly apocryphal) story of the Buddha supposedly saying, in modern paraphrase, “Don’t take my word for it. Go figure it out yourselves!”

    It still wouldn’t make the religions any more right about the existence of their imaginary gods, but it would be a nice change of pace from the micro-management approach that features so prominently in religion.

    Still learning,


  6. Sunny says

    “I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell. Really? I am stunned that the Sister is stunned.

  7. julian says

    You have to wonder how long it’s going to take for Catholics to realize that they can do right or they can do right by the RCC. The Catholic Church is not a progressive institution concerned with the welfare of others. It’s among the most regressive institutions around. If you’re committed to helping the downtrodden, the poor and the sickly you can’t be a good Catholic.

  8. 'Tis Himself says

    Benny Ratzi has made it quite clear that he’s not interested in what the laity and lower clerical ranks believe or want from the Catholic Church. According to his wikipedia biography, Benny never was a parish priest. He was an academic, teaching philosophy and theology at various universities until he was made a bishop. So he’s had little contact with the laity. He’s a religious conservative, feeling that the function of the laity is “pray, pay and obey.”

  9. Tim says

    The story of the Buddha is the only story I can think of, as you did. Curious to hear from others …

  10. Robert B. says

    The Unitarian Universalists probably would, except that their doctrine is so very vague that it’s hard to break with. Their scripture fits on a coffee mug; it reads like a corporate mission statement, if corporations were into vague moral positivity. I went to UU services with my mom a couple times as a kid, and I probably still count as a Universalist – not just technically, but in that I could tell a church leader exactly what I believed and she’d probably say “hey, that sounds cool! Why don’t you come to services and tell everyone about it?” (And yes, I’m an atheist.)

  11. Tim says

    From the article:

    “Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise, Sister Sanders said. She said that the group’s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine annual visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation, which began in 2008.”

    It took Vatican investigators FOUR YEARS to figure out that nuns focus on “on poverty and economic injustice”?

    Man, I gotta get a job as a Vatican investigator: Spend one month talking to nuns. Take 3 years, 11 months off. Deliver report.

  12. Circe says

    Several sects of Hinduism have had that too. The Rigveda has a verse to the effect of “Truth is one: the wise describe it differently”. In original Sanskrit: “एकं सद; विप्र बहुधा वदन्ति”. One of the most famous parts of Rigveda is the Nasadiya Sukta, which very frankly admits ignorance about the origins of the universe, after indulging in a whole lot of fanciful speculation.

    Also, ad for the Buddha, all the history suggests that he was more of a social reformer, so there is some chance the Kalama Sutta (which is what Desert Son referred to above) may not be apocrycphal.

  13. jamessweet says

    The italicized quote is potentially pretty damning, but unfortunately it’s a paraphrase of a paraphrase. I went to the original document, and while I think that the totality of the document agrees with that characterization, I was disappointed not to have found a “money quote” that basically says, “Stop helping people and get back to hating teh geys!” The closest I could find was:

    The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity.

    They are basically saying here that it is more important to believe in the literal truth of Catholicism than to be a good person, but it’s still not quite the smoking gun I was looking for. Hrm…

  14. Desert Son, OM says

    Thanks for your follow-up. I’m largely unfamiliar with Hinduism and the Vedic texts, so thanks for mentioning those.

    Still learning,


  15. Desert Son, OM says

    Never underestimate the power of the human mind to compartmentalize. Religious belief requires it. If someone can wholly embrace human sacrifice by proxy as expiation for transgressions committed by design of a being that simultaneously demands compliance and creates an inherently non-compliant system, then it’s not that much of a step to think “Wow, the RCC is a problem. It’s a good thing I’m still an RC.”

    Still learning,


  16. stonyground says

    I’m wondering what sanctions Ratty has available to bring against these nuns if they refuse to fall into line? It seems to me that he needs them more than they need him, do the RCC even pay them? Are the likely sanctions dependent on the recipient believing the woo to be effective?

  17. thewhollynone says

    Individual nuns can be excommunicated and not allowed to work or live within Catholic institutions, and thus forced out on the street; this is done, and has been done, if they refuse to obey the men in charge. The Catholic Church is a feudal organization, but many American Catholics simply don’t realize that.

  18. stonyground says

    Thanks for that #10. It would appear then that the nuns need to form a union. Ratty can excommunicate individual nuns but if they all stick together he is theoretically powerless.

  19. Guin Underwood says

    The Pope is awesome. Who in the hell would go against the whole world to express and demand expression of a faith that is 2000 yrs. old. Talk about sticking to what you believe. Refreshing and comforting in a time when so many are so wishy washy and ever changing. Hats off to you, Papa.

  20. astro says

    You’re right. The only reason the Vatican is increasing it’s presence of late is because of the dropping numbers of Catholics, especially in wealthier countries where the coffers used to runneth over. Since the 50’s the catholic (lowercase) church has been becoming more secular with little obstruction from the top because the monies were flowing in at an acceptable rate. This, no longer being the case, is why the clueless old farts think that their strategy of antagonism against half the human population is a good one

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