US nuns tell the Vatican to go to hell

Well, not explicitly, because nuns don’t use use that kind of language, at least in public. But that is how I read the subtext of the statement that was released yesterday following the annual national meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that represents 80% of the 57,000 US nuns. (Clarification thanks to Irreverend Bastard.) The assembly was attended by 900 of the 1500 nuns who make up the LCWR.

This statement was in response to the Vatican reprimanding them for being too concerned about economic justice and the poor and not sufficiently enthusiastic about enforcing the Vatican’s doctrines on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. The reprimand was delivered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s version of an enforcer. The Vatican has appointed an archbishop to essentially act as an overseer of the nuns and make them see the error of their ways.

The LCWR statement said that they were willing to talk with the archbishop but will not compromise on their sense of what their fundamental mission in life is.

While acknowledging deep disappointment with the CDF report, the members proclaimed their intention to use this opportunity to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values, and operating principles.

The assembly articulated its belief that religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised.

The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue. 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.

The members reiterated the importance and value of LCWR’s mission to its members and its role as a voice for justice in the world. They urged the officers not to allow the work with CDF to absorb the time, energy, and resources of the conference nor to let it distract the conference from the work its mission requires.

In other words, try to push them too far and they will walk away from the negotiating table.

The Vatican will lose a public relations battle with nuns. They have no hope of winning the hearts and minds of parishioners and seem to have backed themselves into a corner where their only options are to crack down hard on the dissenting nuns or make a humiliating retreat.


  1. machintelligence says

    The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue.

    Lots of luck with that. They are going to need it.

  2. Don Quijote says

    GO NUNS! Kick Archbigot Shitstain’s arse.

    (It may be apparent from this post that I detest the Catlick Cult.)

  3. Etienne says

    I wonder how hard it was for the nuns to submit to the Church’s authority for decades of their lives before taking their current stance.

    Cheers for them for putting life, health and well-being before doctrine!

  4. PoxyHowzes says

    I think the good sisters, with amazingly deft civility, may have told the Vatican that it is already on its way to hell. Their reference to Vatican II is, in itself, “fighting words,” for the current Vatican hierarchy, imho.

    Mano, you are an excellent political commentator, and I’d be interested in your commentary on the sisters’ statement as a political document.

    I believe, for myself, that the Vatican now has no option(s) but (1)to try to thoroughly crush the American nuns’ organization; or (2)to whitewash this “investigation” with some kind of “we’ve looked at it, and it is basically sound, although The Bishop and the Nuns have agreed that certain problems need to be solved.” (Those problems would be things like “where to eat lunch on Saturdays.”)

  5. unbound says

    While the Church hasn’t changed their stance, they have changed their emphasis on which doctrines to highlight. This push on contraception, abortion and homosexuality being the primary talking points is relatively new. The nuns are sticking with the mission as defined in the 1960s.

    In the end, it will create an even stronger rift between the casual (cafeteria) Catholics and the fundamentalist (charismatic) Catholics. Both will survive, but it may actually result in the split of the American Catholic Church from Rome that has been predicted for several decades now.

  6. 'Tis Himself says

    the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s version of an enforcer.

    The CDF used to be called the Inquisition.

  7. EmuSam says

    Is US PR something the Vatican is particularly interested in? Less than 2000 nuns nationwide, among other things, makes it sound like a lost cause.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone canceled their tithes to the Vatican and sent them to the LCWR?

  8. sailor1031 says

    It’s good that the LCWR affirms commitment to the decisions of Vatican II. Vatican II was an ecumenical church council forming the highest of the three “magisteria” of RCC Inc. It represents a much-needed reform within RCC Inc. The other two magisteria, respectively “all the bishops” and the pope, have no authority to change any of the council’s decisions. So, in effect, LCWR are representing Catholic orthodoxy. It is the pope and his growing cohort of tame bishops who are out of line.

    In particular, on the subjects of women’s ordination, contraception and even abortion, the pope and his bishops are being disingenuous because while they like to claim that RCC Inc dogma on these issues is infallible and settled it is not so. There has never been an ‘infallible’ pronouncement on any of these topics. The nuns therefore are not bound to observe the wishes of the pope and his bishops in these issues because it is not catholic dogma. Nor is any other catholic obliged to obey if it comes to that. The sheer dishonesty of the pope and his cardinalate and bishops is a disgrace but shows the same complete lack of integrity and honesty that RCC Inc’s executives have shown in other areas. But then, what can one expect from a criminal organization that allies itself with the Mafia?

  9. hotshoe says

    I hope that Pope Palpatine and his advisors attempt to stomp out resistance by the nuns, leading in turn to a real schism in the church in the US. The more energy absorbed by infighting, the less they’ll have available for corrupting politics. The more unreasonable they look insisting that the nuns are “not sufficiently obedient”, the more they will scare off halfway-reasonable catholic families, who are already wondering about the church’s demands for silence and unthinking obedience.

    I’d be happy to see the nuns refuse to teach if their (elected) leaders are hit with sanctions by the Vatican bullies, resulting in every catholic school being shut down for lack of staff. I’d be happy to see the nuns refuse to nurse in catholic hospitals, ditto. Let every catholic diocese be deprived of its money-making enterprises which are run on the services offered by the nuns they despise.

    The only sad thought is the harm that will come to the nuns themselves. On the whole, they are staunch humanist allies -- whose main fault is a misguided allegiance to the unholy motherfucking church. They wouldn’t deserve being locked out of their homes and their livelihoods by the goon squad from Rome.

  10. Erp says

    I should point out that if push comes to shove the Catholic hierarchy probably has the legal authority to seize all the property the nuns’ orders own and throw the lot out on the streets. I believe they have taken oaths of poverty [which only some priests do] so none own much if anything in the way of personal property and their average age is quite elderly. These nuns are taking a serious risk.

  11. Francisco Bacopa says

    While every charismatic Catholic is in some sense a fundamentalist in that they want to return to practices that have declined in recent years, not all charismatics are social conservatives. Bono is a charismatic Catholic, for example.

    The largest local charismatic congregation around here is pretty liberal They do have healing masses and sometimes approach Pentecostal levels of boisterousness. Yep, they follow official Catholic teaching that speaking in tongues can be a sign of movements of the Holy Spirit. They base this on the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts.

    While some charismatic Catholics are social conservatives, many are not.

  12. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    Maybe it’s time to do what should have been done long ago. The women tell the clueless men to Eff-Off and form their own religion based on what’s good for the species, rather than what’s imagined to be good for a vile imaginary friend.

  13. Konradius says

    I was for a moment confused what the affiliation of that web page was given the amateurish design and the unmitigated bad news for the religious. I thought it was critical of the church, so I wondered why the ‘Heaven’s Personal Protection Racket’ would include an order form.
    Oh, it was a ‘Heaven’s Personal Protection Packet’…

  14. CeePeeThreeOwe says

    “We’re happy to continue talking to you until you come round to our way of thinking, provided you don’t throw a hissy-fit”. Best of luck to them.

    However, does it actually make a lot of difference if they do split from Head Office in Rome? Will they just become the RCC equivalent of “Independent $cientologists” who disagree with the leadership but still try to undermine rationality by promoting their foundational silliness (albeit it a nicer way)?


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