I noticed this in USAToday:
Twisting tweets make hash of hashtag support for nuns [Nooo… it brought clarity to support for nuns.]
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
Hesitate before you launch a hashtag. The experiences of President Obama and Catholic priests prove the point this week as competing views from church and state made hash of their original Twitter intentions. [The original intention, I think, was to fog the facts about the Holy See’s reforming efforts.]
President Obama, riding the topic of rising student loan interest rates, announced a hashtag for collegians to lobby Congress: #dontdoublemyrate.
Conservatives switched that up in a hurry — using that very hashtag to complain about gas prices and unemployment or to lay the blame for the rate increase on the Democrats, according to The Washington Post.
Earlier in the week, another hashtag campaign took a U-turn.
There was an outcry by some Catholics when the Vatican issued a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella group of U.S. women religious (nuns and sisters) and put them under what conservative theologian George Weigel called “ecclesiastical receivership.” Bishops have been assigned to run their show and steer them to focus more on promoting church doctrine and discipline on marriage and sexuality. Weigel and many others thought this was a fine idea and long overdue. [Important point: The Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is not concerned with the lifestyle of all sisters. The CDF is concerned with the doctrine espoused by and promoted by the LCWR.]
Weigel writes in the National Review:
Yes, many sisters continue to do many good works. [Many do! Though that is not what the CDF is concerned with.] On the other hand, almost none of the sisters in LCWR congregations wear religious habits; [Which is true, though that isn’t what the CDF thing is looking at.] most have long since abandoned convent life for apartments and other domestic arrangements; [Very true, though that isn’t the concern of the CDF.] their spiritual life is more likely to be influenced by the Enneagram and Deepak Chopra than by Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein; [We are now getting closer!] their notions of orthodoxy are, to put it gently, innovative; [There it is.] and their relationship to Church authority is best described as one of barely concealed contempt. [And so we get to it. But don’t mix up all these things together.]
But Rev. James Martin, culture editor of the Jesuit magazine America, noted that what is really overdue is the expression of gratitude to the women who founded schools, hospitals and charities across the USA and the world. Martin wrote an ode to the social justice work by selfless sisters and launched #WhatSistersMeantoMe. [Is that what Fr. Martin was doing? Okay.]
That was all swell and full of 140 character bouquets to saintly women — for the first 1,000 or so tweets. Then traditionalist Catholic blogging priest John Zuhlsdorf suggested a U-turn for the tweets. [Not quite. Not a U-Turn. Perhaps a little sobriety.] He notes that the Vatican’s
…reforming effort is far more about the fact that the queenpins of the Magisterium of Nuns style themselves as teachers about faith and morals over and against the bishops and Holy Father, and that they have even become defenders of abortion and homosexual acts.
Fr. Z suggests to his audience, every bit as lively and Catholic-committed as Martin’s, that if
…the defenders of the liberal nuns want people to tweet (on Twitter, of course) positive notes about the poor, male-oppressed nuns using the hashtag #WhatSistersMeanToMe, I suggest that you give them exactly what they are asking for! Do tweet and do use that tag.
But, he says, use it to link to his posts he dubs “Nuns gone wild” naming dozens of nuns and sisters, some deceased, who strayed from orthodoxy on public policy. [WOAH! NO! They strayed NOT from orthodoxy on “public policy” but from the Church’s teaching on ABORTION and HOMOSEXUALITY. See what a deft slight of hand the writer used?]
Now, Martin says, the Twitter column has been ..
… flooded with snotty comments [As if that wasn’t going to happen anyway… on Twitter!] about who were faithful sisters were and who were not. (Apparently the commenters were able to see within the souls of the unfaithful ones.) [Riiight. Fr. Z is the only person in the whole Twitterverse who remembers nuns and sisters who promote abortion. I am glad I got a “My Fault Insurance Policy” when I was in seminary.]
Martin says he was
… taken aback when gratitude was seen as out of bounds, when praise was mistaken for dissent, and when an occasion to support elderly sisters was used as an opportunity to mock women who had given their lives to God.
For folks who might prefer more than 140-character views on the sisters and the Vatican, check out the thoughtful Judy Woodruff discussion at PBS. [Thoughtful? Well… longer. Let’s not mistake PBS or Woodruff for being experts on the internal workings of the Church or of being able to stray far on that short tether from that liberal stake.]