Vatican Finally Drops Misogynistic Probe Of American Nun Group

In a truly rare occurrence, the Vatican has made a sensible decision: It has ended its investigation and takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization that represents some 80 percent of Catholic nuns in the United States. The church had been looking into the organization because the nuns were accused of being too liberal for the church.

According to the Associated Press, The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine had originally planned to take five full years to get the group in line, because they were taking liberal positions on issues such as homosexuality and other social issues in what was described as a “grave” crisis when it came to Catholic doctrine. Further, the Vatican said that the LCWR was aligning itself with “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

It seems that these nuns understand something that the old men at the Vatican don’t, though, which is that you have to change with the times to stay relevant. Moralizing on things like abortion, homosexuality, and other things that don’t concern anyone but the people who are participating in them is no longer an overwhelmingly popular position. If the Roman Catholic Church wishes to stay relevant, they’ll have to learn that people don’t appreciate them sticking their noses into other people’s healthcare and bedrooms.

Pope Francis, despite his many faults and questionable positions, seems to at least understand that a softer approach may be needed, so he has lifted the program to overhaul the nuns and their group, with the Vatican accepting the latest report on the group’s status, saying that the “implementation of the mandate has been accomplished.”

Well, whatever the reasons, it is good that this investigation is over, but it will take a lot more to show that the Church really is serious about dissenting views.

This could simply be good PR. After all, Pope Francis is known for being a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing with a killer PR team. The investigation into these nuns has brought to the forefront the misogynistic treatment of women within the Catholic Church, which comes as no surprise to anyone. After all, in 2015, Catholic women are still forbidden from using birth control. There was heavy criticism of the way the nun group was being treated, according to the AP, especially since they have the task of running and overseeing things like hospitals, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. People praised the work of the nuns, while condemning what the Vatican has been putting them through. So, to that end, it was in the Vatican’s best interest to drop this ridiculous investigation.

Christopher Belitto, who is a historian for the Roman Catholic Church at Kean University in New Jersey, sums it perfectly:

“Anything coming out of the Vatican this morning is nothing other than a fig leaf because they can’t say ‘oops’ in Latin.”

Belitto also described Thursday morning’s announcement of the investigation’s conclusion as “a complete vindication” of the LCWR and of American nuns at large.

Not that there was anything to vindicate- this was just more misogyny from the Vatican, but they stepped in it hard, realized it, and backed off this time. Perhaps they will consider it a lesson learned.

The LCWR has been gracious and dignified throughout this horrible treatment at the hands of the Vatican. The group said in a statement, after having a delegation meet with Pope Francis:

“Our conversation allowed us to personally thank Pope Francis for providing leadership and a vision that has captivated our hearts and emboldened us as in our own mission and service to the church. We were also deeply heartened by Pope Francis’ expression of appreciation for the witness given by Catholic sisters through our lives and ministry and will bring that message back to our members.”

Well, if helping the poor is one’s mission in life, being a nun is certainly one way to do it. Too bad they have to put up with so much misogyny in the process. At least this round of it seems to be over, though.

H/T: Associated Press | Featured Image: Flickr