American Nuns Reject Vatican’s Orders – Say They Are Not Going To Stop ‘Caring For The Least Among Us’

Author: April 22, 2012 11:05 am
Sister Simone takes on the world; @ Washington Post

Sister Simone takes on the world; @ Washington Post

Last week, the order came down from the Vatican. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organization that represents 80% of the nuns in the US, was chastised for “focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping ‘silent’ on abortion and same-sex marriage.” The LCWR is having none of it. In a statement Saturday, the LCWR said,

“We haven’t violated any teaching,” Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, told AFP, insisting the group would not stop “caring for the least among us on the margins of society.”

“It was a total shock for many reasons, no one talked to us” during the inquiry, Campbell said.

“We are a political, not doctrinal, organization: we don’t teach theology.”

After the report was published, Campbell said it was “painfully obvious” the Vatican leadership was “not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.”


“We will keep doing our mission,” she insisted in a phone interview Saturday, saying the group was founded to “lobby, organize and educate” in the name of social and economic justice.

“There seems to the major disconnect, where (the Vatican) seem to think that faith can only lead to one political approach,” Campbell said. The Network group, she said, “speaks for our members, not for a church. Helping others is at the heart of our faith.”

The Vatican is right in that the LCWR is a liberal organization. Their website addresses income inequality with documents like this, in support of the Occupy movement, or this, in support of families of immigrants. These sisters are free-thinking women, an idea that goes against the grain of the “modern” Catholic church, which refuses to budge from the 16th Century.

The nuns aren’t alone in Catholics that are at odds with the Church hierarchy. The majority of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, a change from just two years ago. The church, however, is taking a very political stance against same-sex marriage.

In March, (Archbishop) Nienstedt was one of 13 bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota who met with Pope Benedict XVI to report on affairs in their diocese. According to The Catholic Spirit, “Archbishop Nienstedt told Pope Benedict that ‘all the bishops are resolved to take this opportunity that we have in the political area to catechize in the religious area, to catechize about the meaning and the sanctity of marriage.’

The Catholic church has also taken a strong political stance against the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare) for its policy that all health insurance companies must cover hormonal contraception.
The LCWR has come out in favor of the Affordable Healthcare Act, but not because of its contraception mandate, and only after being assured that abortions will not be covered. The group sees affordable healthcare as a necessary step in battling poverty. The nuns have been silent on issues of same-sex marriage and on birth control and that is where they have been at odds with the church.

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4 Comments

  • The war on women continues, and one of it’s main sources reveals itself.

    Notice the asymmetry when MALE priests were accused of criminal wrongdoing against children and the church did nothing.

    Now FEMALE nuns are accused of wanting equivalent consideration in the eyes of their God and their God’s representatives here on heart, and the church hierarchy jumps into action.

    The Roman Catholic Church: sexism, chauvinism, misogyny, hypocrisy, criminality at it’s most blatant!

    No wonder the US Constitution was built by a bunch of Deists who completely and accurately mistrusted organized religion.

    Click!
    Love and hugs,
    Peter Blaise

  • One must understand that the religious orders of nuns are not actually a part of the Catholic Church itself. They are independent of the Vatican. They WORK for the Church in the capacity of teachers for the most part, but they are wholly responsible for their own overhead, upkeep and retirement. As such they are not obligated to follow any but the teachings of Christ and are subject to His law which was to go into the world and do good works. I say, You Rock Sisters!

  • The nuns are the backbone of the Church. If it wants to survive, especially in the United States, the Vatican would do well to start listening to them. Of course, I don’t expect that to happen. These women sound like they are already empowered…why do they need the Pope?

  • It’s not about the vatican vs the nuns, guys. If the Pope wanted us to fight this battle on US soil about the heathcare act….and insurance companies paying for contraceptives, he’d have to tell all of the Catholics worldwide to stop paying taxes. Right? The U.S Bishops are fighting this battle of priorities with the nuns. We are watching THAT. The rest is noise & hype. I have read work by our Pope since 1981 and he is TOTALLY social justice. We have a VERY vocal gaggle of U.S Bishops that are dug in on this. Think. The Pope and other vatican officials from Europe esp, are shaing their heads at this. They have and support socialized medicine.

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