A while back, Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican decided to crack down on the country's 57,000 Catholic nuns for not speaking out enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination, sporting "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith," juggling baguettes while singing "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" instead of doing their daily quiet genuflecting, et cetera.
Now the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is shoving the Vatican right back on the nuns' behalf, claiming during a four-day conference in Washington that the accusations are "unsubstantiated" and polarizing. "Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission," added the 22-member LCWR board. The gist of their argument, well-summarized by Sister Pat Farrell in Friday's National Catholic Reporter, is this: "The insinuation that I think many people could draw from reading that Vatican document is that if we raise those questions, we're unfaithful to the church.. That's not true. And I don't think that's really fair. I think, in fact, that that is a sign of our deepest faithfulness to the church — questions that the people of God need to raise, that we need to talk about together in a climate of genuine dialogue."
Totally unreasonable, right?
The LCWR will soon rendezvous with Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican's doctrine office, and Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is representing Rome in the proceedings and seems to be taking the diplomatic approach, praising the women while simultaneously aiding in the probe:
No one expects that such a sensitive task will be accomplished quickly or effortlessly, but by God's grace and with mutual respect, patience and prayer it can be indeed accomplished for the good of all. Challenges larger than this have been met before, with renewal and even deeper faith the outcome.