Shedding some much needed light on the alleged Vatican smackdown of US nuns

The meme from some quarters is clear.  The Vatican’s ‘war on women’ has now been unleashed on innocent nuns.

The folks at Crooks and Liars provide the example of coverage coming from the left:

During the Great Healthcare Debate of 2010, some brave and influential Catholic nuns stepped forward and stood up for Americans’ right to have access to health care. Again, in 2012, that same group filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in support of the Affordable Care Act.

As we all wait for that verdict, the nuns have received one of their own. The Vatican has judged the nuns to “have serious doctrinal problems”, among other things, and therefore have assigned them their own man to smack them back in line.

Focusing on helping the poor and needy. [cue sarcasm] How could church leaders possibly justify helping the poor and needy when there are abortions to be stopped and gays to hate? [end sarcasm]

Fear not, nuns. The Bishops will save you. They have a plan.

And so the hatred of Catholic heirarchy and tradition goes.  There’s tons more out there spreading lies and half truths in the attempt to make Catholics look like the out of touch ancients so many gullibly believe Catholics to be.

But into this morass steps Ann Carey to pierce the darkness:

Nuns-for-choiceAn expert on religious women in America believes that renewal within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) will require “very strong self-evaluation” and cooperation with the Vatican’s recent call for reform.

“After having studied this for many years, I think it was 40 years in the making,” said Ann Carey, author of the 1997 book “Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Communities.”

Carey told CNA on April 20 that ever since the LCWR revised its statutes in 1971, it has had a rocky relationship with the Vatican.

“The Vatican was patient, trying to give the sisters some guidelines to modify the direction they were taking, and they resisted that,” she said.

On April 18, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that it had appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead reform efforts within the conference.

The announcement came as the findings of a multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women’s conference were released, raising concerns of dissent from Church teaching on topics including homosexuality, the sacramental priesthood and the divinity of Christ.

Carey said that members of the LCWR have “definitely” exhibited doctrinal problems and have also “made it quite clear that they are intent on changing the nature of religious life.”

They have also spoken of “loyal dissent,” as if to suggest that “it is permissible for one to disagree with Church teaching as long as one professes loyalty to the Church,” she added.

Carey explained that many of the problems illuminated in the Vatican’s assessment are the result of a “misinterpretation of Vatican II documents.”

In the early 1960s, the Second Vatican Council called on religious orders to renew and update themselves, removing “outdated” rules and customs so as to engage the modern world.

For example, many religious orders were continuing the custom of waking up at dawn and going to bed at twilight, she said. This rule was left over from a time before electricity was in use, and it is now unnecessary and outdated.

But while the council called for renewal by returning to the orders’ original founding ideas and adapting them to modern times, many people misinterpreted this call and instead proceeded to “totally throw off some of the essentials of religious life,” she said.

The result was an abandonment of central elements of religious life, such as living and praying in community, serving in a corporate apostolate and wearing some type of distinctive religious garb, she explained.

Carey said that after Vatican II, members of many religious orders began to live in apartments and find their own jobs, separate from a corporate apostolate such as teaching or care for the sick.

In addition, they threw off the “loyalty and faithfulness to the Church” as well as the “deference to the hierarchy” that had previously characterized religious life.

The changes were so drastic that they caused some women to leave the LCWR, Carey said. These women formed another group, which eventually became an alternative superiors’ conference known as the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

This more traditional group, which requires its members to adhere to the essentials of religious life as understood by the Church, is attracting the bulk of young vocations today, she noted.

There’s more and it’s enlightening.

The reaction to the Vatican’s move on this has been typically shrill and is nothing more than an attack on the Church coming from those who have their own agendas to push upon the easily led.

It’d behoove people to apply filters to anything coming from that corner of the communications world.

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