Catholic nuns group "stunned" by Vatican slap

CHICAGO Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:07pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns' group said on Thursday it was "stunned" that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social justice concerns and not enough on abortion and gay marriage.

In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been "silent on the right to life" and had failed to make the "Biblical view of family life and human sexuality" a central plank in its agenda.

It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by American bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops - "who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals" - is unacceptable, the report said.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "doctrinal assessment" saying the Holy See was compelled to intervene with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to correct "serious doctrinal problems."

The nuns' group said in a statement on its website, "The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment."

It added the group may give a lengthier response at a later date.

The conference said it represented 80 percent of America's 57,000 Catholic nuns. It is influential both in the United States and globally.

Academics who study the church said the Vatican's move was predictable given Pope Benedict's conservative views and efforts by Rome to quell internal dissent and curtail autonomy within its ranks.

"This is more an expression of the Church feeling under siege by trends it cannot control within the Church, much less within the broader society," University of Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby said.

That includes a steady drumbeat of calls to ordain women as priests, which the pope has reasserted was an impossibility.

The Vatican named Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and two other U.S. bishops to undertake the reforms of the conference's statutes, programs and its application of liturgical texts, a process it said could take up to five years.

(The photo attached to the previous version of this story was incorrect.)

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Simon; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (12)
Chauffeur wrote:
Stunned? Really? The most devastating holocaust of our lifetime – with over 54 Million abortions in the USA since Roe v. Wade (1 U.S. citizen “missing” for every 6 that are now alive) and the nuns have apparently no concern about this? Or do they believe the unborn aren’t really human, like so many others in secular society? Do they believe the devil retired or ran out of ideas? WAKE UP!

Apr 20, 2012 12:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
danala22 wrote:
It’s a shame they didn’t reprimand some priests over the past 30 yrs or so.

Apr 20, 2012 5:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ausfaller wrote:
Nature, or God, if you prefer, is the world’s leading abortionist, as more than 50% of conceptions do not lead to full-term pregnancy due to natural causes. Do you mourn for these “missing” “citizens”?

Intentional abortion is also an age-old practice, not something that only came into existence recently.

An early-stage embryo is human, in that it has human DNA. So does a pint of donated blood. Most of us do not consider either to be a person.

The notion that “personhood begins at conception” has absolutely no basis in either the Bible or classical Christian theology. Certainly Christ never said a word on the subject.

The dogmatism of the current Catholic hierarchy on this subject is a thoroughly modern innovation. It has certainly proven to be a powerful political organizing tool for the the religious right, but it is not traditional Christianity — Catholic or otherwise. Nor does it have any sound scientific or medical basis.

Apr 20, 2012 6:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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