The Vatican recently accused U. S. nuns, specifically the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), of radical feminism because they focus more on the human rights and the poor, rather than pushing Church doctrine against contraception and homosexuals.
This was the lead article that I was reading on my iPhone that was streaming from The National Catholic Reporter the day that I happened to be sitting in Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain. The irony did not escape me. The Vatican, particularly arch-conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke and pedophile protector Cardinal Bernard Law, is now targeting “rogue nuns”. As I sat in the very place that The Spanish Inquisitions took place, I couldn’t help but think that Burke and Law, like Ferdinand and Isabella, must feel very confident that they are purifying the Church and maintaining Catholic Orthodoxy – cleansing it of those who would dare to question the hierarchy.
God bless our rogue nuns! What the bishops fail to realise is that WE are the Church and that WE have been heavily shaped by the love and nurturing of those religious women in our lives. Cradle Catholics like myself were often taught by sisters who sacrificed their personal lives to enrich our own. My own three aunts were Sisters of The Most Precious Blood and tirelessly gave of themselves day in and day out – building up the Kingdom of God on earth. But mostly the nuns that I knew (and know) loved us. Lived with us. Laughed with us. Cried with us. And faced the joy and heartache of life with us. If they questioned official Church teaching it was only because they walked with us as we ourselves questioned a hierarchy that at times seems woefully out of touch with our lives.
So bring it on Vatican! Silence the nuns! Demand obedience above all! Threaten excommunication! But the love that these women have inspired and The Church that they have built will never go away!
I think of my Aunts Lucy, Noel, and Gene Marie and thank God daily for their presence in my life. I think of great teachers: Thecla – who inspired in me a love of architecture and design (and was instrumental in my career choice), Jeanine – who gave me the opportunity to speak in public (some folks wish I would shut up now), Fidesta – who always made learning fun (even when she was a little bit scary), and so many more. I think of friends like Lucille who gave my family refuge when I transferred to Wisconsin for a new job (and left Deb alone with 3 small kids), Nivard who welcomed me to a new city when I was feeling very alone. And Helen, Dorothy, Mary, Ruth, Annette, Carol, Cindy, and countless others that have lived, loved, laughed, cried and walked with me.
We all know that the Spanish Inquisitions were really about power and never about love. The WE that is The Church will never abandon the Sisters that have built US. And loved US.
Come Holy Spirit Come!