Pope Francis fails a test

While Pope Francis has received great press for his symbolic gestures of openness and warmth and humility, the real test of how different he would be from his predecessors was when he was confronted with decisions that had significant consequences.

One of the first was how he would deal with the ‘problem’ of the ornery US Catholic nuns who were more focused on helping the poor and sick and homeless, and not pulling their weight when it came to enforcing Catholic dogma against gays and contraception and abortion. Francis’s predecessor Ratzi set in motion a process (run by a male archbishop of course) to overhaul the Leadership Conference of the Women Religious, the organization tat represents the majority of US nuns. The nuns were none too pleased with how that process was being conducted.

In one of his first substantive decisions. Francis has ordered that the overhaul proceed as before, with the same overseer.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met on Monday (April 15) with the LCWR’s leadership for the first time since Francis’ election on March 13.

According to a Vatican statement, during a recent discussion of the case with Mueller, Francis “reaffirmed the findings” of the Vatican investigation and the “program of reform” for LCWR that was announced on April 18, 2012.

This may signal the end of the honeymoon with the new pope, at least in the US. On the other hand, those who fell in love with Francis as a person may be willing to make excuses for Francis, the way that many Obama fans seem willing to overlook his appalling violations of human rights because they like him as a person.


  1. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Why any decent human being would remain a Catholic in this century is a mystery beyond my ken. The only way the church could possibly be redeemed is if every single person in the hierarchy above priest were stripped of all power -- and criminally prosecuted where indicated.

    I can hope that the US nuns are brave enough to either resist the corrupt overseer from Rome, or else to defect from the church and become independent charities.

    Nuns’ defection would hurt the church way more than it would hurt the nuns’ sisterhood.

  2. sunny says

    As another commentator noted on another website covering the same story:

    The new Pope’s priorities:
    1. Nuns

    100. Child rape

  3. intergalacticmedium says

    I saw that he accused the Nuns of being corrupted by radical feminists, I just don’t even know…

  4. Hamilton Jacobi says

    I think by “radical feminists” he means “uppity women.”

    One of the most important questions facing Pope Francis is, does God hate fags more than he hates women, or does he hate women more than he hates fags? A billion Catholics are waiting eagerly for his clarification.

  5. MNb says

    “willing to make excuses”
    That’s not even necessary as I learned from a Flemish liberal (his own word) catholic. “Just look at all the good things” is excuse enough, followed directly by “we are working hard for a positive change”. I refer to Jason Rosenhouse’s blog, who wrote about Gary Gutting. I repeat what I wrote there: we atheists don’t nearly criticize those liberal christians enough. Fundies are easy targets, but at least they are honest.
    Someone like Plantinga claims to embrace the scientific method, but subsequently doubts Evolution Theory on theologian grounds. Yuck.

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