All my life I have loved any movie or book with a nun in it. I watched every episode of The Flying Nun. I never missed The Bells of St. Mary (who needs Bing Crosby when you have Ingrid Bergman). Then there was The Sound of Music, Agnes of God, Dead Man Walking, and Sister Act. Two of my favorite books are In This House of Brede and The Nun’s Story. I loved nuns even though I had never met one until finally–Sister Maureen. Sister Maureen was my CPE supervisor. She was trained as a Sister of Charity and a Jungian analyst–a very effective combination for a CPE supervisor. Sister Maureen was everything the nuns of literature and cinema were—tough, funny, smart, compassionate. If she could have taken flight, Sister Maureen would have been the perfect nun.
My husband says my admiration (and possible obsession) with nuns is entirely because I did NOT grow up going to Catholic School. Well, maybe. But nuns were and continue to be the heartbeat of the Church. Throughout history and right up until the present day, nuns are the ones who actually do the work of Christ.
So what is wrong with the Vatican? A few days ago, a Vatican watchdog group, anal with orthodoxy (not its real name, but a good description), published a document criticizing/bullying the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella organization for American nuns. The Vatican reprimands the nuns for “certain radical feminist themes that are incompatible with the Catholic faith.” They don’t like the nuns’ focus on social justice or support of President Obama’s healthcare reform.
It makes me wonder what you have to do to get to be a Cardinal or a Bishop? Promise to never read the Gospel?
Jesuit priest James Martin states it very well in his tweet, “Catholic sisters are my heroes.… [we need to] acknowledge the hidden ways that these women have generously served God, served the poor and served this country.”
I know, I know. I’m blogging a tweet. But Martin has it right. Catholic nuns are the heroes of the Church. He puts it better in another tweet: “Catholic sisters teach me what it means to persevere in ministry without the benefit of institutional power.”
And that is the problem. The nuns are without institutional power. They do the dirty work of Jesus while the Vatican does the dirty work of the Pharisees (apologies to the Pharisees–they always get such a bad wrap).
Shame on you, Vatican. Once again you had a chance to stand on the side of social justice, and once again, you disappointed us.