A lot of Americans, Catholic or otherwise, were offended, even outraged when the Vatican presumed to lecture America’s nuns about being too devoted to helping the poor and insufficiently obedient in spreading blatantly discriminatory Vatican doctrines against gays, contraception, and the whole question of women’s place in the church.
Catholics were especially shocked at the overtly male attack on the respected nuns and appalled when the Vatican assigned an out-of-touch American Archbishop to start an inquisition attempting to force doctrinal uniformity and silence the organization representing 80 percent of American nuns.
As Lisa’s Dad says in the Eddie Murphy comedy, “this is America, Jack,” and folks here are not fond of foreign rulers, let alone religious potentates, telling us what to believe. It just struck a lot of folks as being not just out of touch but unAmerican.
It’s more than a little hypocritical at a time when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a prominent American Cardinal have been whining that rules requiring insurance companies to offer coverage for contraception violate their consciences and principles of religious freedom. But here’s the Vatican’s exclusively male hierarchy, led by the group assigned to impose doctrinal uniformity, ordered by the Vatican to start an Inquisition to tell America’s respected symbols of the Catholic faith that they have no right to even discuss, let alone question, the male hierarchy’s discriminatory dogma.
This weekend, two prominent New York columnists used their Sunday columns to send a united message to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Catholic hierarchy: lay off the nuns unless you want to read a lot of stories about pedophile priests and the massive coverup scandal involving the Bishops and Vatican.
In a column entitled, We Are All Nuns, Nicholas Kristof starts with “nuns rock” but then tells the Vatican to back off:
They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs. As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.
They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits. Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.
So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns. . . .
In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.
What Bible did that come from? Jesus in the Gospels repeatedly talks about poverty and social justice, yet never explicitly mentions either abortion or homosexuality. If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.
And then he fires this shot across the altar:
At least four petition drives are under way to support the nuns. One on Change.org has gathered 15,000 signatures. The headline for this column comes from an essay by Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns.
“How dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world?” Hunt wrote. “How dare the very men who preside over a church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious?”
We get the same message from Maureen Dowd:
Who thinks it’s cool to bully nuns? While continuing to heal and educate, the community of sisters is aging and dying out because few younger women are willing to make such sacrifices for a church determined to bring women to heel.
Yet the nuns must be yanked into line by the crepuscular, medieval men who run the Catholic Church.
“It’s not terribly unlike the days of yore when they singled out people in the rough days of the Inquisition,” said Kenneth Briggs, the author of “Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns.”
How can the church hierarchy be more offended by the nuns’ impassioned advocacy for the poor than by priests’ sordid pedophilia?
Looks like American’s Catholic/media elites are signalling they’ve had enough bullying from the boys. Dowd’s final shot:
Church leaders behave like adolescent boys, blinded by sex. That’s the problem with inquisitors and censors: They become fascinated by what they deplore.
The pope needs what the rest of us got from nuns: a good rap across the knuckles.
Ouch! Your move, Cardinal Dolan.