Vatican criticizes US nuns

On Wednesday the Vatican announced a crackdown on US nuns long considered too liberal by the church hierarchy.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition, issued a highly critical report that accused US nuns of engaging in “corporate dissent” and of ignoring, or worse, challenging the church’s teachings on abortion, homosexuality and an all-male priesthood.

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“I’ve no idea what they’re talking about,” Sister Simone Campbell, head of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, told the BBC.

“Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of society. That’s all we do.”

Jane Little, “Leader of ‘radical’ US nuns rejects Vatican criticism“, BBC News, 21 April 2012.

The accused nuns are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80% of the 57,000 Roman Catholic nuns working in the United States. What touched off this investigation was the Leadership Conference’s support of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, in defiance of US bishops, who opposed the legislation. The report criticised the nuns for challenging their bishops, “the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals”.

The Vatican named the Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, to head a reform of the nuns’ leadership, which “will be for a period of up to five years, as deemed necessary”. Sister Simone Campbell warns: “It’s totally a top-down process and I don’t think the bishops have any idea of what they’re in for.”

At the link, there is a four-minute podcast of Sister Campbell’s conversation with the BBC.

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