Fed-Up Followers of the Week – Leadership Conference of Women Religious

The Vatican’s hold on contemporary American Catholics began to weaken on January, 6, 2002, when a headline in the Boston Globe read. “Church Allowed Abuse by Priest for Years.” It was the start of a sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church from which it has not yet, and likely never will fully recover.
But as it’s turned out, the church’s problems run far deeper and wider than a single scandal. While Pope Benedict XVI made belated efforts to apologize for priestly abuse, it’s becoming clearer by the year that whatever his efforts they were too little too late. It’s becoming similarly clear that his conservative papacy is badly out of touch with its Western constituency. Let me put it this way: when nuns begin publicly to speak out, to claim even a modicum of independence from the Vatican, the church has a crisis of authority.
Two months ago church officials condemned American nuns for what they considered the nuns failure properly to uphold Catholic doctrine. Six weeks of silence followed – that is, six weeks passed before the nuns responded. When they finally did, they did not mince words. In fact they departed dramatically from their traditional image as domesticated and docile. Through their main coordinating organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the nuns claimed first that the Vatican’s assessment of them was based on a “flawed process” and second, that it consisted of “unsubstantiated accusations.”
Moreover when the Vatican recently chastised Sister Margaret A. Farley for her six-year-old book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, Farley, a reputable scholar who was past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, vigorously defended both herself and her work, claiming it drew from “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.” (Ironically, amusingly, the brouhaha transformed Just Love into a best-seller!)
No surprise that American Catholics are standing firm, defending American nuns against attacks by the Vatican. The days when church officials can expect laity simply to afall into line are over – as, now, are the days when church officials can expect nuns simply to stay mute.

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