Nuns hit back over Vatican reprimand

The leader of a group of US nuns criticised by the Vatican last week is hitting back.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, insists the group would continue “caring for the least among us on the margins of society.”

Campbell said that Network, which works with the LCWR and vocally supported President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, would not shy away from its mission, calling the Vatican’s report “painful,” and also puzzling.

“It was a total shock for many reasons, no one talked to us” during the inquiry, Campbell said.

“We are a political, not doctrinal, organisation: we don’t teach theology.”

Lamenting the battle with the Vatican, Campbell is worried the dispute could needlessly re-focus the positive energy within the Network.

Campbell said it was “painfully obvious” the Vatican leadership was “not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.”

“We will keep doing our mission,” she insisted in a phone interview with AFP, Saturday, saying the group was founded to “lobby, organize and educate” in the name of social and economic justice.

The three-year inquiry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees Roman Catholic doctrine, criticised the LCWR for taking liberal stances on contraception, homosexuality and female priests.

The report accused members of the LCWR, which represents around 80 percent of the 45,000 nuns in the United States, of “corporate dissent” with the Church’s teachings against homosexuality, and claimed it was pursuing “radical feminist themes.”

“This is the same church that ignored people who were being pedophiles,” said Sister Jo’Ann De Quattro, who, as a Los Angeles nun for more than 50 years, has worked as a teacher and advocate for peace and justice.

Cracking down on nuns was a convenient way of shifting the focus away from the church’s ongoing abuse scandal, said De Quattro.

“We really know why they’re focusing on the women. It’s all about control. It’s all about exercising authority.”

“Some of this stuff leaves me speechless and cold,” she said.

“The world is in such desperate need of leadership, and they’re talking about all this stuff that’s truly small when we need big leaders, big thinkers and big hearts.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has appointed the Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, to oversee the LCWR and ensure it follows “the teachings and discipline of the Church.”


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