So who's in trouble with the Vatican?
You know, the thousands of women who took vows of poverty to work with the poor, the sick and disabled.
They're just not toeing the line, says the Holy See. Instead of frittering away so much time on "issues of social justice," they should be speaking out against contraception and homosexuality. They should also muzzle themselves on the ordination of women and other "radical feminist themes."
The ones I spoke to were shaken.
And to whom did Lopez speak?
This is the same church that ignored people who were being pedophiles," said Sister Jo'Ann De Quattro, who, as a Los Angeles nun for more than 50 years, has worked as a teacher and advocate for peace and justice. Cracking down on nuns, said De Quattro, was a convenient way of shifting the focus away from the church's ongoing abuse scandal. "We really know why they're focusing on the women. It's all about control. It's all about exercising authority."
De Quattro, seen below being arrested for trespass on the Federal Building in Los Angeles during a peace demonstration, is not representative of all American nuns, just as orders like the Dominicans, the Sisters of Mercy, the Franciscans, the Sisters for Life, and other traditionalist orders in the Catholic Church are not representative of all nuns.
|"My conscience is supreme."|
However . . . those traditionalist orders should be. The Catholic Church is not a democratic institution. It is a religious institution whose tenets of faith require adherence to its rules, as promulgated by its teaching authority, the Magisterium. This is not a case of the "big bad boys" of the Vatican being mean to "the girls" in order to deflect interest in any sexual abuse. It is about house cleaning and expecting those members who chose a religious life to adhere to the Church's precepts.
"My conscience is supreme, not what somebody tells me," said De Quattro.
De Quattro is being disingenuous - she is not concerned about sexual abuse by priests. She is, however, right about exercising authority, but the issue on authority abut which she is concerned is her own - because nobody can tell her what to do. She took specific vows to God when she entered the religious life, but tose do not matter - her conscience, not God's revelations as revealed through the teachings of the Church, is supreme.
"We're in the Easter season, when we remember with great joy Jesus' resurrection," said Sister France White of Pasadena, a nun for half a century. "But we also know his crucifixion was caused by his being prophetic, as the religious are called to be in the church….The church also teaches freedom of conscience….Certainly I consider what the church teaches, but when experience and prayer have told me different….I can't deny that."
"God did not make mistakes," said France White, who told me she believes people ought to be able to express their love for each other regardless of sexual orientation. As for birth control, she opined that "the methods the church says are acceptable don't work."
|"Mother Protector - Creation Goddess" - original artwork by France White, SHCJ|
White needs to review her catechism. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1782 states: "Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. 'He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.'" But that conscience is not man-made and nor does that section of the catechism give free license to moral relativity as the individual decides. "'Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.'" Catechism of the Catholic Church 1776. "'Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.'" Catechism of the Catholic Church 1777.
God is speaking . . . not White's experience and prayer.
If she believes, however, that her experience and prayer is God speaking, that cannot be denied her - but it is not consistent with the teaching of the Church. And so long as she professes to be a Bride of Christ within the Catholic Church, then she either remains true to her vows . . . or divorces herself from Him.
It is interesting to note that these nuns complaining the most are elderly and have eschewed traditional garb of habit and veil. I looked at their orders' websites and see a grey and ageing membership. May I offer this picture of women from the Dominican Sisters of Nashville who took their first vows a year ago?
They look so oppressed by the patriarchy . . .