Vatican clamps down on nuns

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

I called three nuns living in this area and asked them for an interview regarding the recent news that the Vatican is investigating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of Catholic sisters in which some of the nuns have challenged church teaching on issues like the ordination of women and homosexuality.

All three replied that they would not comment on the record.  One explained that she would get "in trouble" if she said what the really thought about the matter.  Silence seems to be the almost universal response—for now—of Catholic sisters in the U.S.

Many in this country, both Catholics and non-Catholics, perceive this silence and the investigation itself as an example of over regulation.  Sound familiar?

In the church, in government and in sports, there will always be a tension between let the athletes play and the need for referees to maintain control of the game.  Or, to put it another way, without regulation the game tends to unravel, and with too much regulation athletes are prevented from playing their game. 

The Catholic leaders in Rome, in my view, are calling the game much too closely, squelching the creative Spirit at work in the American church.  That's a concern.  Another concern is that some may want to over react by advocating that the game would be better if there were no referees at all.  As an observer of religion for a long time, Protestants have shown that when there are no authorities defining limits, the game fragments into literally hundreds of smaller games which wind up eventually needing to elevate somebody as the authority they look to in order to keep their little game from completely disintegrating. 

Finding the right balance between authority and autonomy is a tricky challenge indeed.

Reader Comments

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Michael Murphy from Forest Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 4:43 PM

The flagrant discrimination against women be the Catholic Church is one of the reasons that I am now a Protestant.

Virginia F Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 9:51 PM

The question is why they are bothering now. The average age of a LCWR nun is 74. They are not attracting any new vocations. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, on the other hand, has large numbers of nuns under 30. They all wear habits and are faithful to Church teaching. They are the future of consecrated women in the Church.

Virginia F Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 9:45 PM

For years the LCWR has been fostering ideas that are in complete opposition to 2000 years of Church teaching. Some, for example, have moved "beyond" Christianity and Jesus. One Dominican is an escort at an abortuary. They have pagan prayer services at their meetings. The LCWR was founded by the Vatican and they have a right to reign in the group to prevent scandal and public confusion.

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