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For a Lady Pope

The nuns rebellion

The nuns rebellion – how far will it go?

Many nuns are no longer prepared to talk nonsense. Gone are the days when they kept their mouths closed whilst devoting themselves to their work with the underpriviledged. Gone are the days when they remained silent and obedient.

For the past forty years they have witnessed the Church being discredited. Like many of the faithful, they reject some of the Church’s stance on moral education and in recent years they have also had to look on silently whilst Church authorities weakly cover up for the authors - priests and religious men – of too many acts of pedophilia.


Nuns speak out


Shame is poured on the Church, and yet the nuns have nothing to do with the Church’s failings. They continue to care for orphans, the poor, the sick. Their dedication has remained emblematic and some might even say evangelical. They believe, or at least some of them do, that the men who have allowed the church to drift, have no right to take the moral high ground. The clerics believe that only they can decide on what should be the moral behavior of women and, in this case, nuns. Nuns who had no right to speak out. Today though, they are speaking out. They are talking, they are writing, they are finally having their say.


Yes, the nuns are rebelling and it will hurt. Nothing is more rebellious than a woman. They are determined to have the right to speak. Admittedly, not all 720,000 nuns are ready to fight. Many of them are too busy serving the poor, healing the sick, teaching the young, but there are also many who have been programmed to obey male ecclesiastical authority without flinching.


Their lives, often devoted to the poor, bring them into contact with people who have real difficulties in life. This is why they are in favor of a more appropriate sexual morality, support contraception as part of birth control within couples, are in favour of women priests, in favour of a more flexible position with regard to homosexuality and in favour of a more humane approach to abortion.


The movement began in the USA

It was mainly in the United States in the 1980s that the movement began, It included religious medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, theologians… With internet today we can find out who these people were.
Some examples are very telling. Sister Margaret Farley in the U.S. wrote a book on Christian sexual ethics that was published in 2006. This theologian wholeheartedly defends divorce and remarriage, homosexual unions and masturbation. On 4th June 2012, in Rome, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith violently rejected her work. And yet, only a week later, on June 10th, she received a "standing ovation" at the 67th Congress of the Theological Society of America. Is it not symptomatic that a nun, reviled by Rome, is applauded by clergymen, and moreover by theologians? The Curia should ask itself some questions.


Very recently, a book by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, nun and feminist theologian and a professor at Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York, has also caused furore. The doctrinal commission of the North American Episcopal Conference prohibited the use of her work in Catholic schools.                      
Another nun who has often been called to order, is Sister Joan Chittister, an energetic, American Benedictine sister who has defended the ordination of women and dared to challenge Pope John Paul II. Sister Joan Chittister, reviled by American Catholic conservatives, has been fighting the narrow views of the Church for more than thirty years now. Luckily, she is defended by her abbess.


Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCWR)

So much for individual cases. The going gets tough when you learn that a whole group of nuns have recently experienced the thunder of the Vatican. Rome wants to tame the most important and influential group of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an imposing institution, which represents 80% of the 57,000 Catholic nuns in the United States. The Vatican believes that the LCWR has defied church teachings on homosexuality and the ordination of women and that it promotes "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."


Other regions

Outside the U.S., in Brazil, we have Sister Ivone Gebara, also a feminist, on whom John Paul II imposed a two year exile because in 1993 she said that "abortion was not, in her eyes, a sin". She continues to highlight the discrimination of women witin the Church.


In Canada there is Sister Marie-Paul Ross, an outspoken protester. She wrote a book in 2011 entitled "I want to talk about love ... and sex." She is clearly in favour of contraception and marriage for diocesan priests, is not opposed to therapeutic abortion and is an opponent of discrimination against homosexuals. As for solitary pleasure, she says that it is natural and absolutely not a problem. In France, Sister Emmanuelle made ​​very similar remarks in her own book.


In Spain, Sister Teresa Forcades, also received warnings. Faced with machismo in the Church. "Look at the nuns playing out the role of maids in the Vatican" her criticism is forthright. There are so many women in the church she says, that they could, in 24 hours if they so chose, completely change the Church.
Nuns in Europe are somewhat are less bold. They don’t scream out when faced with scandals caused by cardinals such as Archbishop André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris who, on November 6, 2008, said in a French radio broadcast on the role of women in the celebration of mass “the most important thing is not to wear a skirt but to have a brain”. Are nuns throughout the world willing to go on listening to such nonsense? Certainly not those in the United States.


Pope Francis and the nuns

The position of the American nuns has caused debate in Rome. Pope Francis however, also seems to have decided to try and rein in the LCWR, without even having tried to enter into discussions with them, an organization representing 80% of the 57 000 American nuns.

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