O, the poor sisters!

From the Fishwrap

Vatican must hear ‘anger and hurt’ of American nuns, official says
by John L Allen Jr on Dec. 07, 2010

ROME — Rome must acknowledge the “depth of anger and hurt” provoked by a visitation of American nuns, the Vatican’s number two official for religious life has said, saying it illustrates the need for a “strategy of reconciliation” with women religious.


O, the poor sisters!  They have been sooooo mistreated.

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  1. Andrew says:

    “Anger” and “hurt” are political codewords. When you hear those words, you’re expected to tremble in your pants and pay utmost attention to the person uttering them. The weight and the authority of those words is almost unbearable.

  2. I feel their pain. Earlier this year my parish had an internal audit. It gives me a deep sense of woundedness and violation that the Archdiocese routinely steps in to check that I am not doing what the hell I like with the money. If Rome acknowledges the sisters’ anger and hurt, maybe I’ll be free to take off to the Bahamas once in a while.

  3. priests wife says:

    I don’t feel like going over to the fishwrap; what the purgatory is the writer talking about? Marginal nuns are getting their hair cut and buying new Christmas dresses as usual, and hard-core nuns are off working and praying as usual. If I were a sister, I would be annoyed that I was being used for some political agenda.

  4. Christo et Ecclesiae says:

    I read some NCR articles about this earlier and I’m not totally versed on what’s going on. I know Archbishop Tobin was called in to mediate/act in a way that eases what’s going on.

    All I know is that if Rome is investigating then there’s good reason. Those sisters who are going about the work of the Lord have nothing to worry about. If there is room for improvement in some communities then this will expose what’s going on. I see nothing wrong with any of this.

  5. TJerome says:

    I know some of these nuns who are “angered and hurt.” Many jet around the globe, wear nice clothes, and certainly dont live in, ugh, convents. Many aren’t really Catholic in any meaningful sense of the word, so I have “news” for them: I am angered and hurt that they no longer live authentic lives as women religious nor advance the Catholic Faith. I will NEVER contribute one dime to support you, particularly when you engage in dishonest fund-raising, putting on the “nun act” for the short time you’re trying to extract money out of me.

  6. TNCath says:

    How addressing the anger and hurt of the sisters who were ridiculed for continuing to wear a habit, remain in traditional apostolates, and attempting to keep their vows whilst their orders were falling apart?

  7. Bryan Boyle says:

    wow, they let the bats out of the cave over there.

    There is nothing more illiberal than a progressive whose oxen are being gored.

    Only think I can take away from it is a desire for POWER. Not for service, not for devotion to God, not for bringing about His Kingdom, but whining about ‘injustice’ (code word for ‘you can do something I can’t so that’s unfair’) , ‘patriarchy’ (whatever the heck that is…), ‘Vatican-II said….’ (code words for “the world only started to exist in 1965”) and the like. It’s almost like they thought they had within their grasp a vision of an earthly church in the turmoil of the 1960s-70s, but, that vision was not one of heavenly design, but a cipher created through turmoil by the enemy.

    At its root…it comes down to ‘non serviam’. The candle is dying out. They know it. They see it, and, while we must pray for the souls who are so dead to the Gospel as illuminated in continuity with tradition that they, almost like robots, have to repeat the same old tired canards to make themselves relevant to themselves as their effectiveness quickly wanes.

    You do have to feel sorry for them. You do have to pray for them, but like the somewhat meshugah uncle…nod your head, express your concern for their well being, but continue to rebuild the house of God they did their best to wreck.

  8. DavidJ says:

    Lancing a boil hurts, but is necessary.

  9. rakesvines says:

    In case someone forgot, touchiness or the pride of sensitivity is a pre-neurotic tendency i.e. not a good trait to cultivate. It looks like some nuns have not been doing regularly their particular examen of the predominant passion. Rome is just kind – to a fault even. It should give these self-absorbed dissenters a swift kick in their polyester pantsuits instead – imho.

  10. Marc says:

    Hey sisters, what about the “anger” and “hurt” that you, yourselves, have caused the faithful with your heterodox teachings and hetropraxis actions?

  11. Legisperitus says:

    “Number two” official? No wonder he made that statement.

  12. Rich says:

    Right. Let’s get people, demonically infested, oppressed, and possibly possessed by teaching them New Age practices and whine that it’s NOOOOO FAIRRRRRR when daddy comes by to make sure what we’re doing is legit, let alone not even telling us yet to knock it off.

  13. irishgirl says:

    Fr. Tim-wow, your post was really dripping with sarcasm about these ‘whiny sisters’! Way to go!
    And I’m with you, TJerome, in your ‘hurt and anger’, too!
    I’d rather support good and flourishing communities of nuns, rather than the liberal ones who are dying out anyway.

  14. Joe in Canada says:

    the sisters were led to believe 40 years ago, and have now persuaded themselves, that the changes their progressive leaders dreamed of were imminent. In a way I understand the anger, if they discover that their worldview for the pats 40 years, which was tolerated and perhaps even encouraged by so many priests and bishops, is looked down on by the leadership of Christ’s Church. I had to fire someone once who had 15 years of positive job reviews by my 3 predecessors, and 15 years of secret memos in his file, by the same people, complaining about him. For him it was extremely bewildering and hurtful to be let go.

  15. abiologistforlife says:

    “‘patriarchy’ (whatever the heck that is…), ”

    Ah, ‘patriarchy’. Got to be a candidate for most-abused-concept-of-all-time.

    The meaning was originally ‘a social system where fathers hold authority over the family’ (Rome, for example). A proper ‘patriarchy’ on the Roman model (for example) is very different from simply a male-dominated society in that it forms a tight-knit, extended family with the oldest male ancestor as ‘linchpin’. A strongly patriarchal society like Rome, you get stuff like the emperor as pater patriae etc.

    Feminism caused the meaning to shift to ‘any male dominated society’. America, for example, even when men had preference in law, was never a patriarchy in the proper sense — a son who grew up did not remain under the father’s authority as in (say) the Roman system. The objections of many feminists to *patrilineal* social conventions (as a wife taking her husband’s last name), I think, contributed to this confusion.

    (One finds the same confusion in things that talk about ‘matriarchal Native American societies’. There were *matrilineal* ones; but there are not, and there is no good evidence of there ever having been, any proper matriarchies or gynarchies.)

    With the modern gender stuff taking any expression of any difference between men and women as sexist, the term has become completely meaningless.

  16. ipadre says:

    Some of these orders should be suppressed for the “hurt and anger” they have caused the people of God!

  17. Alexis says:

    Ironically, His Excellency seems to poorly understand the concept of the Church’s hierarchy. The sisters may or may not have the opportunity to offer responses and explanations – but that is not up to them and certainly not a right.

    The thought arises that His Excellency Archbishop Tobin doth protest too much. I mean, how would he know for certain the answer to “Will there be an earthquake in American religious life?”?

    That has yet to be decided, Your Excellency, and the decision is, mercifully, not just up to you. Cf. hierarchy concept above).

  18. KevinSymonds says:

    “Hurt & Anger.” That’s a laugh.

    Incidentally, how is it that John Allen can continue writing such pieces of work?

  19. ttucker says:

    Anger and hurt rank right up there with things that cause one to be “offended.”
    All of these things “have a chilling effect.”
    Deo gratias.

  20. Del says:

    I think we are missing the point here.

    The “hurt and anger” are the arthritic joints and the crotchety disposition that comes with old age. Those LCWR types aren’t getting any younger, you know.

  21. KevinSymonds says:

    Hmmm, I notice that the remark was made by Bishop Tobin on “hurt and anger.” Let me also add to my above statement the following:

    Bishop Tobin, with all due respect, I disagree with your assessment of “hurt and anger.” The “pain” felt by women religious because of this visitation is nothing short of being based upon feelings of “big bad Rome is out to get ’em.”

    That, Your Excellency, is emotional thinking, not rational.


  22. I had a sister (may she rest in peace) who joined what was then a major order back around 1960. I remember, as a small child, just being dazzled when we visited her mother house – crowds of happy women in flowing habits, beautiful grounds, lovely chapel.

    Only many years later, after she (and many, many other) had left her order and those who were left had by all the evidence switched to some flavor of Wiccan beliefs did it occur to me what a major act of financial fraud was being committed – those beautiful grounds and lovely buildings were a gift, given not to a bunch of smug pant-suited heretics to rent out as they saw fit, but to the greater glory of God as expressed by all those women giving their lives to Him in the service of the poor and sick.

    In the big picture, of course, it is the spiritual damage that matters, not the misuse of mere material wealth. But it seriously sticks in my craw to see the physical and financial resources used as they are, especially when I think of the kinds of sacrifices people no doubt made to give them to the order, way back before Vatican II. And I suspect that who get to use these resources and for what is a big part of the issue, here.

  23. Jayna says:

    How about those nuns rediscover a “strategy of obedience”? It really saves them the heartbreak when they find out their ideology is a disgrace.

  24. pcstokell says:

    The combox on that NCR article is “the usual suspects” writ large, even considering the awful conditions more than a few endured.

    By all means, let the women’s houses know the results: the radical feminism, the overreaction to poor decisions in community life, the near complete buy-in to American “baby boomer” values, etc., etc. Then let Tobin, Rode and the rest have at it.

    There are more women religious over 90 then there are under 60. And they really want to know why Mother Millea is there, and why the CDF is there?

    What’s the poem about an angel bringing Mercy – in the form of a scalpel?

  25. AngelineOH says:

    That whole accountability thing really bites – right, sisters?

  26. Tantum Ergo says:

    I hope the Tin Man doesn’t heat about the poor nuns’ plight. He rusts so dreadfully when he crys, you know.

  27. Clinton says:

    I’m puzzled by the sisters’ indignation. How else other than by a visitation is anyone to
    get a handle on why the orders are imploding and how they can be brought around?
    The different congregations have been in free-fall for decades and have not been able
    or willing to take an objective look at their decisions. Of course, I may be making a mistake
    assuming that the sisters want to reverse the decline of their congregations. I’ve heard sisters
    make disparaging comments about their order’s generations of service to the Church, for
    they saw it as enabling the patriarchy in its oppression of women blah blah…

    In short, I think some sisters want their congregations to die with their generation, and to
    tear at the greater Church as they collapse.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Angry and hurt that they did not live up to their call of poverty, obedience and simplicity of lifestyle? Angry and hurt that thy live the yuppie lifestyle and pretend to love the poor, who they cannot see? Angry and hurt because of all the lost vocations in the last two generations of girls who could not find an orthodox order outside the SSPX and are now too old to join the new traditional orders? Angry and hurt that their pro-abortion political stance no longer holds favor in the hierarchy? Angry and hurt when their arrests at the College of the Americas fades from glory? Angry and hurt that they have used non-authorized versions of daily prayer calling God the Father only the Creator, calling Christ , the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, the Sustainer and never, never using the “he” or “him” pronoun references? Angry and hurt that they traded in the spirituality of their founders, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Dominic and others for reike, transcendental meditation, yoga, mazes, mayan and earth goddess worship, wicca, or sufi pshycology?

  29. Supertradmum says:

    sorry for errors, my kitty is sitting in front of me trying to catch the mouse arrow…I can’t see a thing.

  30. Norah says:

    What’s the bet that the people sent by the Vatican to visit these sisters cave in and the end result will be a fairy floss report and business as usual.

    I hope I am wrong.

  31. EXCHIEF says:

    Sympathy…you don’t need or deserve no stinkin sympathy. You brought it on yourselves and have only yourselves to blame. Play by the rules or don’t play. Simple concept. Perhaps too simple for your overly educated (on all the wrong subjects) minds.

  32. chcrix says:

    From the Fishwrap: “Mother Clare Millea, an American who serves as Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is heading up the visitation on the Vatican’s behalf. ”

    I have some firsthand knowledge of the Apostles, and respect them. It seems to me quite sensitive of the Vatican to appoint a local to head up the visitation.

    That said, why would they be ‘hurt’ any more than the Legionaries of Christ by a different Vatican investigation? I don’t recall that Archbishop Tobin has made any public comment on the Legionaries, who he supposedly also had a hand in investigating.

    The Archbishop talks about ‘trust’ in the article. Like many human interactions, trust is a two way street. The visitation was obviously impelled by a sense that it would be imprudent to ‘trust’ some things being done under the aegis of certain of the U.S. based religious orders. This judgment appears sound to me.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    They’d ought to be glad the Holy See is so kind and indulgent with them, and appears ready to let them & what’s left of their foundations to live out their days and fall into oblivion gently.

    If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be so kind because it confuses people. Only the orders that are actually producing something of value to the Church would remain. The rest would be suppressed and all the local remaining members and houses strictly and completely disallowed from calling themselves Catholic in public.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    I hope they gave the local ones here the good look over. They have solstice ceremonies, and eco-farm and are frankly out to lunch. They purport to give spiritual direction but I’m not sure whether it’s down or up. ;)

  35. Supertradmum says:


    we share the same heretics…sadly

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    The same order or the same ilk, Supertradmom? I’m in southwestern lower Michigan.

  37. TJerome says:

    I went over to NCR to read the comments. Talk about being unhinged from reality!

  38. Ed the Roman says:

    I think that a “strategy of reconciliation” is desperately needed here. There is nothing more urgently required or more difficult than finding some way to get the LCWR to make a good confession and amend.

  39. MikeM says:

    When meetings of the LCWR are suggesting that it’s time to “move beyond Christ,” the only visitations they should be receiving should be there to figure out how to shut them down. The LCWR is an offense to true Christians and a wound to the Body of Christ.

    I’m sure there are a many good sisters in LCWR groups… the Church should do everything she can to help those women and to offer them the best possible alternative living arrangements, and should work with them to find the best possible outlets for their valuable service. Those who want to blaspheme the name of Christ, indulge in idol worship, and lead souls to Hell should not be indulged.

  40. Melody says:

    I consider myself a sane feminist. You know, like the original feminists who fought for the right to vote and opposed abortion and the like, so all this sends me into a rage.
    Firstly, the Church needs to be giving women religious more attention with the state it’s in!
    Secondly, the Holy Father put a woman(Sr. Mary Clare Millea) in charge of the inquiry! The fact that the Church was fair enough to delegate the inquiry of women religious to one of their own speaks of great fairness. Sr. Millea’s name should be mentioned whenever and wherever someone begins complaining about this issue, because it clearly shows that the protests to the inquiry are actually defense of doctrinal heterodoxy.

  41. pelerin says:

    Like TJerome I decided to brave it and read the comments on the NCR. Unhinged from reality indeed! There is one long comment from someone who describes herself as a ‘former American nun, no longer Catholic and who is now living in a lesbian monogamous relationship.’ Although no longer Catholic she still feels competent to comment that Priests should be married and obviously still reads the NCR. She states that Christ did not found the Catholic Church – according to her the Romans did!

    These ex nuns seem deeply unhappy and ill at ease but perhaps what is more troubling is there is a comment from a ‘fr’ (presumably a Priest) who writes of the’ Vatican’s intransigeant misogyny.’ He hopes that ‘the CDF will fail in their attempt to destroy one of the most heartening developments in the Church.’ With the dramatic fall in vocations how on earth can the modernisation of nun’s orders be ‘heartening developments?’

  42. okiesarah says:

    Before I recently started reading this blog, I’d never heard of the NCR. And now I wish I never had O.O For a second I thought it was like The Onion, a spoof type paper, and now I’m horrified that it’s actually not. I can’t believe the word Catholic is attached to it. I can’t believe so many other “Catholics” think like that! Reading the comments made me profoundly sad. Off to go pray for all those lost souls…..

  43. Bryan Boyle says:

    @abiologistforlife: I know re patriarchy…just couldn’t find the handy whiny complaint that would fit at the moment…:)

    I really am sad, like some have said, for those who were deceived by the turmoil into thinking that the discontinuity, and inclusion of heretical beliefs, pagan ceremonies, and me-centered theology that wrecked their orders. The emperor really did NOT have any clothes on, and when the leaders took off their shoes…instead of toes, there appeared cloven hooves.

    I’d be bitter and angry. But, they’ve spent so many years raging against the system, that to admit to the hypocrisy they’ve preached since that would really exposed them to themselves for what they are…they continue to bang their heads on the wall.

    Pray for them. They need it.

  44. Jayna says:

    Neither can Bp. Finn (or perhaps it was now Card. Burke?), who removed McBrien’s editorials from the diocesan newspaper.

  45. Jayna says:

    Sorry for the double post, forgot to mention that that last comment was in response to okiesarah.

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