Francis: “Can you imagine a Church without nuns?” Fr. Z gives his view.

Pope Francis has made it clear that he considers dimly women religious who are not fruitful. He has admonished nuns not to be “zitelle… spinsters, old maids, biddies”. To be called “una zitella” isn’t a compliment in Italian.

“But Father! But Father!”, you feminist-leaning Pope Fluffy fans are now nervously whimpering, “What does the Most Wonderfullest Pope Ehvur mean b… b… by … fruitful?”

From the site of Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis: a Church without nuns is “unimaginable”! [I think it is "imaginable".  We don't see many recognizable sisters around.  How long has it been since they have been present in significant numbers in our schools, hospitals, missions.  No wait!  They're on buses!  Platforms of the DNC!]

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday highlighted the great value that nuns bring to the Church. “What would happen” – the Pope said – “if there were no nuns? [Here we go!] No nuns in hospitals, in missions, in charitable institutions, in schools… Can you even imagine a Church without nuns…? No it is unthinkable!”.  [What's missing?  Hierarchy.  Holy Orders.  Nope.  Not there. Won't be there... ehvurrrr.]

And speaking on the day in which we celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Pope said that nuns are great women. He said “they are a gift, the leaven that carries the message of Christ”. “These women – he said – are great!”

The Pope’s words came before the Sunday recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square, after having presided over Mass in the Basilica on the Feast Day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a Feast which is traditionally dedicated to Consecrated Life.

To those gathered in the Square Pope Francis said that consecrated persons in different sectors are “the leaven of a more just and fraternal society”. [Nice phrase.  I wonder if he has been reading materials from Acton Institute?] He said that “Consecrated Life is a gift of God to the Church and to His people”.

The Pope said that the Church and the world needs the witness of religious and consecrated lay people to the love and the mercy of God, and he asked for prayers so that many young people may say “yes” to God who calls them “to consecrate their lives to Him and to be of service to their brothers and sisters”.

Pope Francis recalled that the year 2015 will be dedicated to Consecrated Life and asked for prayers for this initiative. After the recitation of the Angelus Prayer, Pope Francis reminded those present that in Italy “The Day for Life” is celebrated today with the theme “Generating the Future”. He sent his greetings and encouragement to those committed to the defence of life from its conception to its natural end.

At this point I can’t help but think of one of the darlings of the LCWR type nuns in these USA, Sr. Donna Quinn, who was featured in my post Nuns Gone Wild!

Donna Quinn an advocate for legalized abortion. As late as 2009 she was engaged in escorting women to abortion clinics in the Chicago area so they could abort their babies safe from pro-life protesters. She is now a coordinator of the radically liberal National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), which stands in opposition against the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and the exclusively male priesthood. In a 2002 address to the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as “immoral”: “I used to say: ‘This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,’” she said.  “Then later I said, ‘This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I’d better work to change it.’  More recently, I am saying, ‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.”

The Pope doesn’t want nuns as escorts at abortion clinics.  He doesn’t want them in radical feminist causes.  He doesn’t want them in the hierarchy.

Meanwhile, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the help of Archbps. Sartain and Blair, is still watching the LCWR.

Lastly, please consider buying some fine soap from the great Dominican sisters in Summit, NJ.

Also, you can pre-order a music CD of music for Lent from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.   You know their CD for Advent.

Fr. Z endorsed!

 

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Pope Francis, Women Religious and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Francis: “Can you imagine a Church without nuns?” Fr. Z gives his view.

  1. lana says:

    If I had a penny for every CCD student that asked me ‘What is a nun?’…

    Maybe there are a lot more of them in Argentina.

  2. Mike says:

    May Our Lord grant His Church and Her members in our land the humility to embrace apostolates of genuine service to the poor and to families, and the grace and fortitude to be scrubbed clean of Satan and error in general and Bus Nunnery in particular.

    Soap from faithful Dominican sisters seems like a good way to start scrubbing. Off to the order page I go.

  3. Priam1184 says:

    As to ‘sister’ Quinn: why is this woman still a nun? Why in the world would a person do that to themselves? Why would you want to live in the bosom of an institution that you plainly despise? Unfathomable, until I remind myself of our Lord’s confrontation with the priests in St. John’s Gospel chapter 8, and then it all makes sense. We all need to pray for this lady and the others of her ilk; that all of the knots they have tied themselves into get undone.

  4. Priam1184 says:

    And Father is right. Save a few exceptions nuns have not been a real significant or positive presence in the Church during my entire lifetime. If the current composition of consecrated female orders shrunk dramatically or disappeared (save for the small but growing number of faithful convents) I doubt that many would notice any appreciable difference in the life of the Church.

  5. Alanmac says:

    For many years I have listened to this pro-choice BS over and over again. I have responded many times, sometimes quoting Blessed Mother Teresa, most of the time my emotions just blurt out something ineffective.
    However, now I write:
    “An abortion stops a beating heart just like yours.”
    That usually ends the commentary because it directly relates to the writer that his/her heart is beating just like the child about to get vacuumed.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s pretty clear that a lack of faithful sisters and nuns — or at least, a lack of sisters and nuns who have remained properly formed and who know what they should be doing — is one of the great deprivations of the modern Church here in the US. There is a faithful remnant that has their heads on straight, and they do amazing work for their numbers and are growing. But the rest have been tricked out of their sisters’ heritage of prayer and service for a pot of message, and they’ve inadvertently done their best to drive off new vocations to their orders. (And of course, friars and brothers in the US are in a similar situation.)

    Argentina does have a lot of sisters and nuns. There are 30 Carmels of Carmelite nuns, 12 Benedictine female monasteries, 6 Contemplative Dominican convents, 12 Dominican sisters congregations, 1 Tertiary Dominican convent, and tons more. Buenos Aires is one of the centers of religious life, so I’m sure the Holy Father is used to running into sisters everywhere.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There’s even a famous European-style cooking school run by the “Swiss Nuns,” aka the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Here’s a monastery all for blind nuns – the Blind Sacramentines.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Here’s the most famous cooking Swiss Nun, Sr. Bernarda Seitz, teaching Argentine people how to make Chicken Strudel and how to make daily tasks into prayer.

  9. iPadre says:

    There are plenty of good, young, habited Sisters who are flourishing.

    No need to fear, in time, the “Nuns on the Bus” will be “Nuns in a box.”

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Hermana Bernarda” currently has a cooking show on Argentina’s ElGourmet Channel. It’s called “Dulces Tentaciones” (Sweet Temptations), and it’s all about making desserts and sweets.

    She’s 87, and still seems to be going strong. I think she looks a lot happier and younger than the crew who got misled. So it’s not the age; it’s how you used it.

  11. PA mom says:

    Thought you all might like this and find it relevant.

    http://nypost.com/2014/01/31/catholic-schools-secret-love/

  12. capchoirgirl says:

    Praise Jesus for the flourishing orders in my area–we have habited Dominicans (friars and sisters) in our (Dominican) parish; the sisters run CCD. We have the Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (Ann Arbor, MI) in local diocesan schools, and we have the wonderful Nashville Dominicans teaching in the southern part of the state. Thank God for these women! (And of course the Summit, NJ nuns–wonderful, holy, fantastic cloistered nuns!)

  13. Del says:

    A shortage of priests is a difficult problem. But the shortage of Religious Sisters is an acute problem.

    As recently as a few generations ago, Religious Sisters ran the Church. In particular, they staffed the schools and were crucial in the development of whole generations of Catholics.

    Sadly, the Sisters walked away from their positions of leadership and power — believing such leadership of service was demeaning in some way. They wanted to seek positions of “prestige,” as they imagined it. They wanted to be the pastors, priests, and bishops. And they wanted to do it as liberal feminists.

    Fortunately, there are new orders of the New Evangelization who are faithful, joyful, and fruitful. And growing. Work and pray that they come to lead and serve at school near you.

  14. LarryW2LJ says:

    I felt the same way as Pope Francis when I was growing up, and being schooled by the good Bernardine sisters. I could not imagine a world without nuns and sisters, whether they be Bernardine’s, Felicians, or Sisters of Mercy.Without sounding like a broken record, it all changed after VII. Before then, you had no trouble picking a nun out of a crowd. You couldn’t go to a parish, parochial school or Catholic hospital without running into one. They were treated with respect and honor. Now? Habits and veils are almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. You almost need a score card to tell you if a woman is a nun or not.

    I am tempted to relate the decline of Catholic education to the vanishing of Sisters from the class rooms. When the good Sisters left the class rooms in droves, Catholic education just wasn’t the same. Maybe that’s just me being nostalgic, but I think there is a connection.

  15. Genesispete says:

    Nuns have been murdered all over the world by Nazis, Communists, Terrorists and dictators. They bore witness to the true faith. LCWR is can’t hold a candle to them.

  16. Matthew says:

    I miss the good nuns I had in school. The high school I went to had six Sisters of Notre Dame including the principal. Now they merely advise and administer from afar as there are no nuns on campus or teaching there anymore.

    It makes me sad to see some of the silliness some of the more outspoken nuns get up to today. If they’ve decided that their vocation is to be abortion advocates then they need to think long and hard about remaining Catholic. I pray for these sisters daily and perhaps more fervently than I pray for the good committed sisters.

  17. majuscule says:

    My 96 year-old mom is pretty much confined to home and at the mercy of the mainstream media. She doesn’t have access to EWTN. We were talking about nuns not wearing habits nowadays.

    I emailed her some pictures of young nuns ice skating and playing basketball wearing their habits. She was thrilled to see them!

  18. APX says:

    When I was a little girl I was watching the movie “Problem Child” and noticed the full habited nun. I asked my mom where I could meet a nun like that only to be told “those kind of nuns don’t exist anymore since the 60s” at which point I became sad. Had I known that such nuns still existed, I likely would have wanted to be one when I grew up.

    On a side note, thank you for suggesting the Benedictine’s CD. I’ve been thinking up things to give up for Lent that will help me the most spiritually, and my punk rock collection was on the list of things to give up. Now I can replace it with music that will actually uplift my spirit (as opposed to being an outlet to express my anger an rage).

  19. lampada says:

    Father Z:

    Consecrated persons may not have Orders… but they are considered to be an “essential” part of the Church because they are the Marian dimension of the Church whereas the priests are the Petrine dimension of the Church. The Pope is merely reiterating the fact that we need consecrated persons.

    This is what Vita Consecrata has to say about consecrated life. The last sentence is particularly powerful:

    “This dimension of “we” invites us to consider the place which the consecrated life occupies in the mystery of the Church. In recent years, theological reflection on the nature of the consecrated life has deepened the new insights which emerged from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. In the light of that teaching it has been recognized that the profession of the evangelical counsels indisputably belongs to the life and holiness of the Church.This means that the consecrated life, present in the Church from the beginning, can never fail to be one of her essential and characteristic elements, for it expresses her very nature.This is clearly seen from the fact that the profession of the evangelical counsels is intimately connected with the mystery of Christ, and has the duty of making somehow present the way of life which Jesus himself chose and indicated as an absolute eschatological value. Jesus himself, by calling some men and women to abandon everything in order to follow him, established this type of life which, under the guidance of the Spirit, would gradually develop down the centuries into the various forms of the consecrated life. The idea of a Church made up only of sacred ministers and lay people does not therefore conform to the intentions of her divine Founder, as revealed to us by the Gospels and the other writings of the New Testament.”

    It may be that the form of consecrated life known as religious life will die out. That is okay. The Church started out with consecrated virgins, then added hermits and consecrated widows, then religious, then secular institutes. We are back to pagan days and we are seeing a return to our roots. Over 6,000 consecrated virgins have been consecrated by their bishops since 1970. These women are the hope of the Church, the fairest portion of the Church, and the striking image of the Holy Mother of God. The largest female congregation of religious (Salesians) only has about 17,000 sisters. The Order of Virgins will soon overtake this number at the rate they are being consecrated. This should come as no surprise because consecrated virginity is a greater challenge to our world than the chastity required for religious and the antitode needed for our unchaste times.

    Today is the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Persons. It is also Candlemas. I don’t know if you know this, Father Z, but it was a consecrated virgin who began the tradition of the candles for this Feast in Jerusalem.

  20. APX says:

    Lampada,

    Where do you get the number 6000 for CV? The last I checked, the numbers were closer to 3000?

  21. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I haven’t read the other comments here, but I would like to say, that I think the Holy Father is a little out of touch. It’s very easy to imagine a world without nuns. I haven’t seen a nun in years. I am not kidding. I think the last time I saw a real, live nun was at my mother’s funeral in 1995. I was recently flailing around facebook on a page dedicated to reminiscences from students in my parochial (Catholic) grade school. Someone challenged us to name all of our teachers, grades 1-8. I noted mine, nearly all Sisters of the Holy Cross (1960-67). The very next classes after mine noted their teachers also – nearly all lay teachers. The flight of the nuns began in the middle and late 1960s. Where has Pope Bergoglio been, not to have noticed that it hasn’t been cool to be a nun for nearly 50 years?

  22. APX says:

    Denis,

    Please allow me to add some perspective.

    I empathize with you regarding not having seen a real live “nun” (fwiw: nuns are cloistered, sisters are not, so unless for some odd reason the person you saw was outside the cloister, you saw a sister) for most of one’s life. It wasn’t until last year that I saw for the first time a sister in a habit.

    That being said, we mustn’t limit ourselves to life without seeing active sisters in habits as a world without “nuns”. We mustn’t forget the impact of the prayers and penance of those who are cloistered and unseen. I don’t want to think about how much more society would be morally corrupt if there were no nuns living lives of prayer and penance to appease God of completely letting all Hell break lose.

  23. anilwang says:

    Priam1184 says: Why would you want to live in the bosom of an institution that you plainly despise?

    Simple explanation. Say you’re a judge or a doctor or a citizen of a country whose rules require you to do unjust actions. You have two choices. You can leave your profession or citizenship or you can stay in your profession and citizenship and work from within to change the rules and as much as possible to avoid unjust actions. Add to this inertia, fear of leaving a profession that you’ve lived your whole life, and the potential for losing all the relationships you’ve built up in your life, and the reasons for staying are quite compelling.

    Of course, as with Milton’s demons, her conscience is inverted so that what she sees as unjust is just and vice versa, but the reasons are sound and very human and very evil.

    As for whether nuns are essential to the Church, the only thing I can say is that the Bible and Church Fathers repeatedly mention consecrated virgins and consecrated widows. To me if early Church didn’t have consecrated virgins (male and female), even if they didn’t “do anything in society” and only prayed as hermits and contemplatives, it would seem so Protestant. As such, it is hard for me to imagine a Church without nuns or monks.

  24. incredulous says:

    ‘This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,’” she said. “Then later I said, ‘This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I’d better work to change it.’ More recently, I am saying, ‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.”

    No, Sister, the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world goes back to Adam and Eve and original sin. This original sin has never changed. Woman is disobedient and tries to get others to go along with her disobedience and Eve is our original proof. Weak disobedient men (and women) follow and don’t stand up for virtue. Mainly, because they objectify Eve and want her sexually. So, disobedience (pride arrogance) is at the root of women and sexual sin and disobedience (lack of charity and love for neighbor) is man’s falling. In general, although women are more like men in terms of sexual sin these days RE Miley, Madonna, Rhianna, Perry, etc.

    That’s it.

  25. Imrahil says:

    As an addition,

    the way,the Holy Father talked about imagination etc., he meant apparently nuns with habits.

    Which, for me, is instinctively the same thing. While I’m not informed about Argentina, both German and Italian nuns always wear their habit. But the Americans seem to do things differently.

  26. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Dennis Crnovic,

    where has Pope Bergoglio been?

    In Argentina.

    U.S. situations need not necessarily be equal to those of the rest of the world. (e.g. German nuns have a dire vocations problem, but they don’t simply disappear, either personally or visually, as long as the old ones are still there. Rome is, by comparison, floating with young nuns (very nice view), many with non-European look though.)

  27. Dominicanes says:

    The Summit Dominicans are actually properly NUNS (moniales) not Sisters: Nuns of the Order of Preachers is their real name. Their founding by St. Dominic predates the friars by 10 years. They are distinct from Dominican Sisters who are related to the Dominican Order spiritually but not juridically.

    Yesterday when the Holy Father reflected on consecrated life and said this he actually said “sisters” (suore) not nuns. In an earlier part of the same paragraph he specifically talked about the contribution of monks and nuns. The Holy Father, a religious himself, knows the difference. In fact, he will be writing an apostolic constitution specifically for Contemplative Nuns during the Year of Consecrated Life.

    “Ma pensate una Chiesa senza le suore! Non si può pensare: esse sono questo dono, questo lievito che porta avanti il Popolo di Dio. Sono grandi queste donne che consacrano la loro vita a Dio, che portano avanti il messaggio di Gesù.”

  28. robtbrown says:

    Incredulous says,

    No, Sister, the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world goes back to Adam and Eve and original sin. This original sin has never changed. Woman is disobedient and tries to get others to go along with her disobedience and Eve is our original proof. Weak disobedient men (and women) follow and don’t stand up for virtue. Mainly, because they objectify Eve and want her sexually. So, disobedience (pride arrogance) is at the root of women and sexual sin and disobedience (lack of charity and love for neighbor) is man’s falling. In general, although women are more like men in terms of sexual sin these days RE Miley, Madonna, Rhianna, Perry, etc.

    Are you saying that without the Fomes of Sin (from Original Sin) man would not know sin?

    BTW, it is Protestantism to say that the First Sin was sexual.

  29. robtbrown says:

    should be:

    Are you saying that without the Fomes of Sin (from Original Sin) man would not now sin?

  30. incredulous says:

    @rot, is it protestant to say the first sin was disobedience? That’s what I said. Regarding Fomes of Sin, I’m not exactly sure where you are reading this. But, I did say the original sin was disobedience and yet you basically accused me of saying the first sin was sexual and that I’m espousing protestantism.

    In any event, I take issue with Sister’s premise that the evils in the church and the world are due a violation of her pro-choice feminist ideology. It seems more clear to me that disobedience against God is the problem and that it’s the original sin.

    And why are men disobedient to God and go along down Eve’s (woman”s) primrose path? Because they want sex. Many church fathers have said that most sin is sexual in nature.

  31. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’ve been trying to get figures on how many nuns and sisters are in Argentina, but without much success. There do seem to be fewer progressive orders than traditional ones, but it’s hard to tell. However (although it’s a bit creepy), there is an Argentinian government webpage that lists 9 pages of officially recognized institutes of consecrated life with their population numbers, so possibly somebody can put some stats together that way. (Don’t know if they’re all Catholic, though.)

    St. Albert the Great pointed out that you could also take the first sin as having been theft, since Eve and Adam had no business getting their mitts on fruit they’d been told not to eat.

    And the Fathers never said that most sin is sexual. They tended to opine that most sins were “sins of the flesh.” Gluttony, for example, is a sin of the flesh but isn’t usually sexual in nature. Mentally translating “flesh” into “sex” is a big big big misleader. Brother and Sister Donkey are interested in all kinds of bodily desires that aren’t about sex (albeit sex is a big one).

  32. JKnott says:

    In monasteries and convents where there is fidelity to the Magisterium, prayer and the Rule, the elderly sisters tend to be a beautiful example of wisdom and charity, and an encouragement to the younger sisters who are still growing though the ‘dark night’ in their spiritual union with God.

    I agree with Suburbanbanshee when she points out: “She’s 87, and still seems to be going strong. I think she looks a lot happier and younger than the crew who got misled. So it’s not the age; it’s how you used it.”

    In the religious life, well-lived, the soul seems to become younger and more vibrant with age.
    Sadly, I think today we get so used to seeing the bus-type nuns that the tendency is to write off the elderly as a whole class.

  33. APX says:

    There were no male consecrated virgins in the early Church. Men can’t be brides of Christ. The men were ascetics. I point this out because now there is a movement being started to open the consecration of virgins up to men. Grr!

  34. robtbrown says:

    incredulous says:
    @rot, is it protestant to say the first sin was disobedience? That’s what I said. Regarding Fomes of Sin, I’m not exactly sure where you are reading this. But, I did say the original sin was disobedience and yet you basically accused me of saying the first sin was sexual and that I’m espousing protestantism.

    You were fine saying it was disobedience, but then you jumped to sex.

    And why are men disobedient to God and go along down Eve’s (woman”s) primrose path? Because they want sex. Many church fathers have said that most sin is sexual in nature.

    I have personally known agnostics, incl my father, who were not inclined to sexual sins.

    And who are the Fathers who say that most sin is sexual in nature?

    BTW, where did you get rot?

  35. Joseph-Mary says:

    My children have grown up never seeing a nun in a habit. We had ‘nuns’ but they were ‘weavers of change’ who had their own alternative liturgy. We had the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth with their new age, reiki, and crystals. We had Benedictines all about peace and justice. Years ago, as a child we had Immaculate Heart sisters in habits who taught at the Catholic school. When the sister divested themselves of their habits (willingly or not), it was like they divested themselves of their charisms too. When one travels, closed schools are found all over the country that were once places with teaching sisters and Catholic children. The sisters are almost all gone and the children are more subjected to our filthy secular environment.
    BUT…habited giving sisters are slowly returning. We have three in our school. They are from India and wear a habit. But only true faithfulness to the holy Church and to a charism will allow an Order to maintain and grow. Too many ‘sisters’ have been dangers to the faith and that has been incredibly sad.

  36. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, it looks like the Argentinian government webpage isn’t listing population, but rather the registration number and date of registration of each institute. (But it would still be a good way to find webpage search terms for Argentinian groups.)

  37. AvantiBev says:

    Question: I hope to make my first trip to Italia sometime this Spring or autumn depending on family obligations. Since at 58, I am una zitella (the unmarried and sans children part; not the old biddie part) will I find myself reviled, rudely treated and disrespected by guides, hotel/pensione staff, shop clerks, etc.?
    This is a serious question. [Not at all.] I am happy and outgoing and have never considered myself a half waiting to be whole. I enjoy traveling, history and meeting people. I cannot wait to use my “baby” Italian and see my Nonni’s birth places. Am I a marked “zitella” traveling alone? [Not unless you are a sour liberal sister. Set that aside.]

  38. Pingback: Pope Francis: Unimaginable | The American Catholic