From Hell’s Bible comes this op-ed:
Nuns on the Frontier
By ANNE M. BUTLER [professor emerita of history at Utah State University]
Fernandina Beach, Fla.
THE recent Vatican edict that reproached American nuns [Incorrect in point of facts: It was not an edict. It was not a reproach of “American nuns”. It was about the leadership of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns.] for their liberal views on social and political issues [The writer is trying from the onset to make you think that the Holy See and by implication the US bishops are politically motivated. That is not the case.] has put a spotlight on the practices of these Roman Catholic sisters. While the current debate has focused on the nuns’ progressive stances on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, [finally something closer to the truth… but wait! There’s more! . … ] the all-male priesthood [You knew it was coming, right?] and economic injustice, [The writer is implying that the sisters love the poor and help them and the bishops are meanies who don’t.] tension between American nuns and the church’s male hierarchy reaches much further back.
In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West, braving hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. [And not a single man every helped them, either. Not a single bishop or priests ever helped. Right?] Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy [?!?] that, then as now, frequently exploited and disdained them was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change. [Did the writer just make the dopey suggestion that the nuns did what they did without the help of any man and, indeed, against – in the face of – what the hierarchy wanted? That the eeeevillll men did not want the sisters to build and staff classrooms and hospitals? Is she barking mad? Does she think you are that stupid?]
Like other settlers in the West, Catholic nuns were mostly migrants from Europe or the American East; the church had turned to them to create a Catholic presence across a seemingly limitless frontier. The region’s rocky mining camps, grassy plains and arid deserts did not appeal to many ordained men. As one disenchanted European priest, lamenting the lack of a good cook and the discomfort of frontier travel, grumbled, “I hate the long, dreary winters of Iowa.” [There were no male missionaries? No priests went where the women religious went? What amazons!]
Bishops relentlessly recruited sisters for Western missions, [Ahhh… so it wasn’t exactly “in the face of” the hierarchy after all.] enticing them with images of Christian conversions, helpful local clergymen and charming convent cottages. If the sisters hesitated, the bishops mocked their timidity, scorned their selfishness and threatened heavenly retribution. [Oooo they were so mean. But what comes through here is that the women weren’t all bubbly with missionary zeal. They weren’t yearning to get out there. They were as inert as any other people might be. They had to be “enticed”.]
The sisters proved them wrong. [Because all men are always wrong.] By steamboat, train, stagecoach and canoe, on foot and on horseback, the nuns answered the call. In the 1840s, a half-dozen sisters from Notre Dame de Namur, a Belgian order, braved stormy seas and dense fog [SWELL MUSIC] to reach Oregon. In 1852, seven Daughters of Charity struggled on the backs of donkeys across the rain-soaked Isthmus of Panama toward California. In 1884, six Ursuline nuns stepped from a train in Montana, only to be left by the bishop at a raucous public rooming house, its unheated loft furnished only with wind and drifting snow. [And here I thought women wanted equal treatment as men.]
These nuns lived in filthy dugouts, barns and stables, [Sorry, but… were they waiting for a man to clean them?] hoped for donations of furniture, and survived on a daily ration of one slice of bread or a bowl of onion soup along with a cup of tea. They made their own way, worked endless hours, often walked miles to a Catholic chapel for services, and endured daunting privations in housing and nutrition. [Which pretty much describes everyone else’s lot out there in those days. And, notice that there were priests out there. But surely their conditions were more like The Ritz.]
There appeared to be no end to what was expected of the sisters. In 1874, two Sisters of the Holy Cross, at the direction of Edward Sorin, the founder of the University of Notre Dame, opened a Texas school and orphanage in a two-room shack with a leaky dormitory garret that the nuns affectionately labeled “The Ark.” The brother who managed the congregation’s large farm informed the sisters, who were barely able to feed and clothe the 80 boarders, that he could not give the school free produce — though they could buy it at a discount. [I guess the economic rules were suspended in the case of the priest and money just miraculously appeared for him. He never had any bills to pay and therefore, rolling in dough, ought to have just given them everything gratis.] The sisters also did 18 years of unpaid housekeeping work on a farm run by the men. [Unpaid? Was everything supposed to be free to them? St. Paul, I believe, made a connection about working and eating.]
Sisters adapted to these physical, spiritual and fiscal exploitations [So we are just supposed to accept what happened as “exploitations” just because she used the word.] with amazingly good humor. Still, they chafed against their male superiors’ unreasonable restrictions and harsh dictates. [Ooo ooo! Stop. My eyes are starting to fill up. gulp] When they directly questioned policy, [DING! There’s the magic word, friends. You know that at a certain point “policy” would come in. Now watch the writer conflate certain behaviors or decisions or true policies with the Church’s doctrine. If the former was unjust and should have been different, then doctrine is unjust an ought to be changed as if it were a “policy”.] bishops and priests moved to silence them. [Booo! Meanies!] A single protest could draw draconian reprisals on an entire congregation. [“I’m Spartaca!” “No, I’MMMM Spartaca!” “I am Spartaca!” SWELL MUSIC… ]
Good grief. You can read the rest there.
Meanwhile, allow me to remind you of one of the Nuns Gone Wild:
Margaret Farley: over the years, she has taken positions favorable to abortion, same-sex “marriage,” sterilization of women, divorce and the “ordination” of women to the priesthood. Farley, who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, is well known for her radical feminist ideas and open dissent from Church teaching. In 1982, when the Sisters of Mercy sent a letter to all their hospitals recommending that tubal ligations be performed in violation of Church teaching against sterilization, Pope John Paul II gave the Sisters an ultimatum, causing them to withdraw their letter. Farley justified their “capitulation” on the ground that “material cooperation in evil for the sake of a ‘proportionate good’” was morally permissible. In other words, she declared that obedience to the Pope was tantamount to cooperation in evil, and that the Sisters were justified in doing it only because their obedience prevented “greater harm, namely the loss of the institutions that expressed the Mercy ministry.” In her presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2000 she attacked the Vatican for its “overwhelming preoccupation” with abortion, calling its defense of babies “scandalous” and asking for an end to its “opposition to abortion” until the “credibility gap regarding women and the church” has been closed. In her book Just Love she offers a full-throated defense of homosexual relationships, including a defense of their right to marry. She admits that the Church “officially” endorses the morality of “the past,” but rejoices that moral theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McCormick embrace “pluralism” on the issues of premarital sex and homosexual acts. She says that sex and gender are “unstable, debatable categories,” which feminists like her see as “socially constructed.” She has nothing but disdain for traditional morality, as when she remarks that we already know the “dangers” and “ineffectiveness of moralism” and of “narrowly construed moral systems.”