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.’