"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)
Saturday, June 2, 2012
U.S. nuns push back against Vatican crackdown
Fri Jun 1, 2012 12:41pm GMT
By Stephanie Simon
(Reuters) - The largest organization of U.S. Catholic nuns on Friday rejected a Vatican assessment that they had fallen under the sway of radical feminism and needed to hand control of their group over to a trio of bishops.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, whose members represent about 80 percent of nuns in the United States, issued a sharp statement calling the Vatican's rebuke "unsubstantiated" and "the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency."
The nuns said the Vatican's report has "caused scandal and pain throughout the church community and created greater polarization."
Tensions between U.S. nuns and church authorities, both in Rome and in the United States, have been simmering for decades as nuns have taken an increasingly independent and outspoken role in politics and social outreach.
The Leadership Conference has aired frank discussions of issues that deeply discomfit the Vatican, from ministry to gays and lesbians to the patriarchy of church culture. Some nuns have made public calls for the church to relax its stance against contraception; others have worked to ordain women as priests, in ceremonies the Vatican does not recognize as valid.
The Vatican also complained that the nuns have focused most of their attention on social justice issues, such as poverty, and have not spent enough time promoting the church's view on divisive political questions such as abortion and gay marriage.
To bring the sisters into line, the Vatican announced earlier this spring that it would put the Leadership Conference under the effective control of a trio of bishops, who would have the power to rewrite its statutes, its meeting agendas and even its liturgical texts.
In their response on Friday, announced after three days of discussion and prayer in Washington, D.C., the conference board called the punishment "disproportionate" and said it "could compromise their ability to fulfil their mission."
The nuns have drawn strong public support in the United States since the Vatican made its move to rein them in. In the past few weeks Catholics have organized vigils outside churches from Anchorage, Alaska, to Lady Lake, Florida, and in major cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, as well as outside the offices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.
Knots of demonstrators - sometimes a handful, sometimes several dozen - pray, sing and give thanks for nuns. More than 50,000 have signed an online petition asking the Vatican to withdraw its order.
The Leadership Conference cited that support in its tough response to the Vatican, saying the board "believes that the matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world."
The Leadership Conference president, Pat Farrell, and the group's executive director, Janet Mock, said they would fly to Rome in little over a week to meet with Cardinal William Levada and the U.S. bishop assigned to reform their group, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle.
That meeting is scheduled to take place one day before U.S. bishops gather in Atlanta for wide-ranging discussions on issues from clergy sex abuse to the federal mandate that all health insurance plans cover contraception.
Following their discussions in Rome, the nuns will convene a national convention in St. Louis in August to further shape their response to the Vatican.
"This response shows Catholic sisters are not backing down from their social justice mission and are handling a troubling situation with great dignity," said John Gehring, the Catholic program director for Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)
Posted by Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic at 6:32 AM