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Nuns' fight with Vatican highlights Catholicism's global struggle
The nation’s largest group of nuns, LCWR, are under fire from the Vatican.
May 30th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Nuns' fight with Vatican highlights Catholicism's global struggle

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - The charges ranged from promoting “radical feminism” to espousing religious teachings out of step with the Catholic Church. Now, six weeks after many American nuns said they were blindsided by a bruising Vatican assessment, a key nuns' leadership group is meeting to decide how to respond.

The board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents the leadership of the vast majority of the nation’s nuns, began a four-day meeting in Washington on Tuesday, with church watchers dissecting the 22-member board's every move.

It's a fight that pits church men and against church women, and it could have broader implications for the global church.

One side is pushing the nuns to fight back against a church that they think has lost its way. The other is championing the Vatican against a group of aging nuns whom they say are on the verge of extinction unless they reform.

The powerful Vatican office, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, launched an investigation for several years. It issued a report in April charging that America's nuns had largely gone rogue, warning that the American nuns could be a negative global influence on the church.

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The Vatican report said that at an annual gathering of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, guest speakers who preached "radical feminism" went unchallenged. The report also alleged sins of omission, saying the nuns were too focused heavily on social justice and not enough on opposing abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

Many nuns have publicly chafed at the report.

"For myself, the shock made me numb at first, and then I was profoundly sad that my life as a woman religious and my commitment to serving the poor would be so denigrated by the leadership of our church," says Sister Simone Campbell, who heads NETWORK, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "All we do is work for love."

For the report to say "you don't do everything," Campbell says, is "ridiculous."

Some in the pews seemed to agree with that sentiment, even staging small protests across the country to support the nuns. During a recent stop at Campbell’s office, she showed CNN cards and letters of support.

The Vatican office that issued the assessment said it was a first step in reforming American nuns. “The renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious," the report says, "… is the goal of this doctrinal Assessment."

Pope Benedict XVI, a theologian by training, was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for decades before he was elevated to papacy. In interviews conducted while he held that earlier post, he spoke often about growing the church by pruning - becoming smaller but more devout before expanding.

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“Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history where Christianity will be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world-that let God in,” he told Peter Seewald in an interview for the book, "Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millenium."

That vision has support from ardent Catholics.

"Far from a crackdown, the Vatican is asking the LCWR to prayerfully return to their roots and to the reasons their religious institutes were founded,” says Raymond Arroyo, a host on the Catholic Cable Channel EWTN.

“These monasteries were not founded 100 or 200 years ago to picket and contradict church teaching or the bishops," he says. "They were founded to faithfully serve brothers and sisters throughout society in the spirit of Christ."

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is a group of 1,500 nuns who lead over 300 religious orders. Together, its members represent 80% of the 57,000 nuns across the United States.

Church experts say that the nuns have a few options in responding to one of the most powerful offices in the church. They could accept the assessment, negotiate or resign en masse and form a new group outside the watchful eye of the Vatican.

In a statement, the group said it would conduct this week’s special meeting “in an atmosphere of prayer, contemplation and dialogue and will develop a plan to involve LCWR membership in similar processes.”

“The conference plans to move slowly, not rushing to judgment," the statement said. "We will engage in dialogue where possible and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit."

Even before the controversy broke, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was already thinking seriously about its future with the church.

Nuns in the conference had long ago removed their habits and shifted away from the traditional roles within church structures, like working in parochial schools and hospitals. Today you are more likely to find a nun in contemporary dress at a soup kitchen than in a full habit cracking a ruler over a grade-schooler's knuckles.

But the leadership conference is shrinking as it ages.

“They’re certainly not getting new vocations, new members, at the rate they had been before the Second Vatican Council,” says Kathleen Cummings, associate director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “Since the late 1960s, their numbers have declined dramatically.”

The median age of American nuns is 70, she says, noting that career opportunities once available only to nuns inside the structure of the church are now open to women outside the church.

“Changes for women in America have far outpaced changes for women inside the church,” Cummings says.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious once represented nearly 100% of the nation’s nuns. In the 1990s, though, a number of orders broke away and formed the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, returning to many of the older traditions of religious life, including wearing the habit.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious is growing at a faster rate than the leadership conference, but Cummings said the numbers of new vocations there are “miniscule” as well.

Vatican scandals lift lid on secret power struggle

While leadership conference nuns viewed the evolving role of women to give them more of a social justice focus, Cummings says that "Vatican officials, and many Catholics, too, see those changes as startling and disturbing.

“What’s happening here with the doctrinal assessment is just the latest, and will have the most lasting effects, of a Vatican attempt to reassert the power they traditionally held over women’s religious life," Cummings says. "Power that they lost a lot of over the last 50 years.”

But conservative Catholics say the groups that are most beholden to that power are the ones that are growing.

“Some communities are clearly doing something right, others are moving to extinction,” says Arroyo. “Bottom line: a faithful witness is attractive and undeniably draws young people.

"The Vatican is throwing a life line to the leadership of female communities that are not thriving and attempting to facilitate a reform that will allow them to rediscover their initial calling and draw young vocations into the future," he says. "That's not a crackdown, it's a seek-and-rescue mission."

As the sisters debate and pray on how to respond, they realize they are in the center of a broader global power struggle.

“What’s really at stake here, in the larger significance, is the future of the church,” says Sister Maureen Fiedler of the order of Sisters of Loretto,  which is represented by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. “Whether we’re going to go back to the old church before the Second Vatican Council.”

The leadership conference plans to announce its next steps in responding to the Vatican on Friday.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Vatican

soundoff (848 Responses)
  1. social worker

    Religion will be evolved out in another 100 years. Just like children born without being genetically altered and engenered.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  2. david

    That means that there will be a big influx of virgins?? Get prepared to serve, boys!

    May 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Reporting for duty!

      May 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Nunez

      "The median age of American nuns is 70." Enjoy!

      May 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  3. Martin Pina

    The anti-Catholic talk remind me of the nazi propaganda against the Jews before world war II. Why is there such anger against our Church. The same hate you have for the Catholic Church, you also have for Jesus Christ.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that I agree, but if you don't know, then you haven't seen the news lately.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Martin

      I don't have any hate for Jesus, because I'm not even convinced that he existed. As for the church, they continue to dig their own graves, and the self-righteous, self-important, and blind continue to defend their actions.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Rennee' Hernandez

      Martin: you do realize that Christ is not "owned" by the Catholic Church, right? One can "hate" the church, but still love Christ. Christ is not specific to any one Christian church.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • madonfan

      Martin. Think logically. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to become a "nun". And actually, the need for the priesthood was made void when Jesus gave His life as the ultimate and only mediator. Only "Catholic" doctrine calls for the rules that have been imposed on it. THE BIBLE SAYS NOTHING ABOUT SACRAMENTS, NOTHING ABOUT CONTINUING THE PRIESTHOOD, AND NOTHING ABOUT BECOMING NUNS. God is good. Unfortunately denominations professing His goodness, keep getting it wrong.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • One one

      I find this comment ironic considering the fact that the RCC was sympathetic to what the Nazis were doing in WWII in part because of their anti-Semitic and their anti-communist stance at that time.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Lorena Rene Francis

      My personal relationship with Jesus Christ has nothing to do with my disgust for men of the Church who have been exposed and are being hid or transferred when the church is aware they are preying on children. That is the biggest betrayal I can think of.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Cynthia L.

      I find your comment distrubing, at best, and totally divorced from reality. Attacks against the richest little nation on earth, known as Vatican City, as an attack on Jesus Christ? You have framed your opinion from the narrowest definition of what Christ was about. It wasn't about protecting a bunch of men over women. Never was and never will be. If for one second I thought that that was his message, I would have turned my back and found another way to bring love into the world. You are a 'freightened little person'. Bigotry against the importance of half the population on this planet only seals your fate as irrevelent. Belief in love and service to others is of the highest calling. Not obedience to some power hungry, money grubbing men.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • cnn reader

      I disagree with you. 1000%

      May 31, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  4. Jorge

    CNN has incredible obsession with the Catholic Church or should I say against the Catholic Church. It will try to undermine the Church every way it can but it will not succeed. Their attack will only purify it and make it stronger.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • One one

      It's not just the RCC. It's all religion. They know these issues are not good for the GOP. So they are milking them as much as they can. Hop over to foxnews.com and you will see they are doing the same thing but with different issues and with a right vs. a left spin.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Oh yea . . . it NEEDS a lot of purification !

      May 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  5. One one

    Are there any religions that preach religious tolerance ?

    May 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Etalan

      Buddhism?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • None Needed

      Most religious texts can be twisted and interpreted to serve any point of view, support any bigotry or tolerant view.
      Buddhism is often followed by people who are tolerant, but this is not always the case.
      Religious followers are only people. They are not robots to follow every letter of a religious text even if they wanted to, for there are too many contradictions between the texts and reality and within the texts themselves.

      If one wanted to use Buddhism as a basis for hate, intolerance, bigotry, hate, and so on, it could be done by interpreting certain parts of the religion that way.

      This is because there are no absolute moral values and no intrinsic magical qualities to any facet of any religion that has ever been created throughout all of human history. There is no magic. There is no universal wisdom. There is no god.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  6. Proud2B4USA

    I grew up Christian in the Catholic Church. I feel lucky. Am 56 now. Church leaders make a difference no doubt, but the local parishes have given me and my family spiritual inspiration and peace. My mentors have been priests, nuns and hundreds of good people who go to Mass every Sunday. Going to church during college was eye-opening....a true spiritual revival....church full of young people.....reminded me of what good religion is all about. The Catholic Church unfortunately has its politics....and horrible scandals within....but I liken that to organizations made up of many people. We have some bad apples. I publicly despise it.....it's unacceptable....we must do better....I know we can. My aim is for me and my family and friends to do our part to help make it better.... for all people....by using the teachings of Jesus and His followers. No matter what direction the Church leadership in Rome or America takes, people like me will continue to make the Church better from within. It will change. We do make a difference....at the local level....touching the lives of real people......and together, all of us, world-wide. I ask that you pray for my intentions.....and, as always, with a loving spirit, I pray for yours.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  7. Josef Bleaux

    Most religions consider women to be second class citizens. That should tell you something about religion in general. Personally, I have no use for ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense, aka religion.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • martog

      ok, that earned an 'AMEN'!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  8. JAEZUS

    RELIGION LOL.

    TROLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  9. Jamie

    It's simple. They don't want to keep a bunch of aging women on the payroll, because they are so broke from defending lawsuits necessitated by child-molesting, rapist priests. And we all know that men, even when they are predatory criminals, are so much more valuable representatives of the teachings of peace, healing and charity than any woman, even one who has devoted her life to that work, will ever be.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      re: don't want nuns on the payroll. That is likely the crux of the matter, as the whole reason for introducing celibacy to the priesthood was to save money by not having to provide for families and nor more pensions to widows.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Lorena Rene Francis

      I so agree with you. Rather then having a Bishop oversee the Nuns it is obvious we need more over seeing in the Priesthood. Seems like they are trying to redirect the attention away from much bigger issues. The Nuns have always been and continue to be the silent backbone of the Catholic Church.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  10. Drew Miller

    Does anyone even care anymore?

    May 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Colin

    Nah, I was brought up a Catholic, but after repeatedly seeing pretty fundamental holes in the belief and never being given a satisfactory answer, I ended up an atheist. Here are some of my issues that caused me to stop believing

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities."

      Nah. It does. You do know why, right?

      Because in the absence of a god, no morality can exist.

      You do know why, right? Because if there is no god, where do moral laws come from? Are they floating around in space?

      If so, who cares? What binds you to them? The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing.

      Hence, the only "morality" that is conceivable is a rational egoism. You ought to do whatever makes you happy, so long as it doesn't bring any undesired consequences down onto you. Consequently, you may r_ape, mur_der and steal if you won't get caught. You can do right when it brings you public praise, and do wrong when no one will notice.

      "requires a leap of faith [people admit]"

      What the common or lay person admits is irrelevant to what's philosophically true. If you knew the arguments for theism - even if you reject them - you wouldn't make such an absurd claim.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Bob

      Colin, way to nail it!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Nah

      bob: "Colin, way to nail it!"

      If by "nailing it" you mean "I'm taken in by fallacies, slogans and emotional tirades", sure.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • martog

      Nah is obviously delusional but just smart enough to keep people 'discussing' with him/her. Kinda like a troll. I'm sure he/she cannot comprehend that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof'. He has no proof, no facts, no logic...just his/her emotion. And that's why he/she Luvs religion.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • John

      8...."do not even claim to have been witnesses" 1 John 1:1 "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life."

      May 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Dennis

      Colin, you speak as someone who was 'brought up' calling themselves Catholic, but never actually put anything but a cursory glance at it. Cathoicism takes real study and not cursory glances. It also takes accepting that YOU are not as smart as you think you are. Practically all of your 'problems' with Catholicism seem to me to be more about your inability to understand or comprehend magnitudes of things. You seem to be like most anti-theists (notice I dont say atheist, as you clearly arent one) in that you think God is some bearded old guy in the sky as depcited in paintings. Your conception of God and 'dispute' with his existence seems completely limited to your own limited understanding and comprehension. You didnt even call out the right number of books in the NT. Matthew Mark Luke and John are just four of many books in. What about all the others, have you even read the Bible? Can you point out any of the 'contradictions'? Have you read the cathechism or consulted a priest about them?
      You sound like the same people that burned witches, denounce that which you dont understand and therefore fear.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Nah

      martog: "Nah is obviously delusional but just smart enough to keep people 'discussing' with him/her. Kinda like a troll. I'm sure he/she cannot comprehend that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof'. He has no proof, no facts, no logic...just his/her emotion. And that's why he/she Luvs religion."

      *yawn*

      If you're going to troll, try to be subtle.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Nah

      dennis: "Colin, you speak as someone who was 'brought up' calling themselves Catholic, but never actually put anything but a cursory glance at it."

      He's a disaffected Catholic, hence, he's embarrassed by his prior religious beliefs and so must run to the opposite end of the spectrum: militant atheism. On top of that, he must criticize, belittle, and insult religion whenever he can. That's the only way he can make up for, in his mind, his youthful intellectual follies.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @NAH – morality doesn't have to come from religion, it comes from common sense and compassion for your fellow man. No invisible, supernatural being in the sky required. Just common sense and compassion, even chimpanzees have those to a degree.

      @Colin – well said and very very true, you nailed it.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @NAH – All religions are just ancient mythology, it's so obvious to any intelligent person that uses logic, reason and objectivity instead of blind acceptance. All of the gods that have been worshiped since the beginning of history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course, the one YOU believe in is the only one that's real.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • iconoclast1

      Well, since you put it that way.... I got a good chuckle from your comments. Not because there is anything the least bit wrong with them. You actually stated your case quite eloquently. The humorous part is that it should only take a few moments of quiet, deep reflection to come to your stated conclusion. The whole premise of Christianity, and other religions, is absurd. Of course this is so. You've pointed out the many reasons for such a conclusion. And what about all of the religions that died off over the centuries? I'm sure they had resolute disciples as well. No matter how you slice it, the world's religions just don't pass any kind of test that puts rationality and coherent thought above simple faith. When you think about it, it's really kind of sad that so many are deceived into a state of blind faith borne of fear, mindless hope, and unquestioning acceptance of dogma. Congratulations to you for a fine commentary and for coming to the only sensible conclusion.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "morality doesn't have to come from religion, it comes from common sense and compassion for your fellow man"

      Alas, you're trying to create an objective morality from subjective principles. How futile. How absurd. How simple of you.

      Who says morality has to come from "compassion" or "common sense"? You? Okay, but then why do I have to follow it? Because *you* want me to?

      Nah. If morality is the product of subjective beliefs, anyone can do anything they wish so long as the consequences of doing so are desirable to them. Hence, a serial killer may kill and a r_apist may r_ape.

      If murder and r_ape aren't up your alley, you can give away your money and be charitable. But there's nothing in the world making you do so except your own conscience. But your own conscience in this case is merely a thing that helps you avoid feelings of guilt. It is not, I'm sorry to say for you, a giver of universal, objective commands.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Sheila

      This is a place for comments about the article, not for your manifesto of atheism.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • aginghippy

      Colin,
      Bravo! Very well said!

      Nah,
      Morality is among the most subjective of all human principles. Throughout the ages, society has decided what is moral and right and what is immoral and wrong. It has evolved along with the human race. Which morality is it that you claim comes from religion? Is it the Christian morality, Buddhist or Muslim variety? Today's Muslims, for example, find it morally acceptable to stone women for being r*ped.
      There are a few exceptions, those basic tenets which seem to be shared by all human beings, whether they be Christian, Muslim or atheist. Those arise from the common sense knowledge that it is wrong to kill another human, steal from him or her, or to cause undue harm. Those basic tenets do not come from religion; indeed they predate religion which has incorporated them into its dogma as if it were the original source of such inherent wisdom.
      Humans have the capacity for empathy, which allows us to see the wrong in doing to others that which we would hate to be done to us. You don't need an imaginary friend in the sky to possess empathy. It evolved with us along with our other human characteristics, such as the ability to ignore our empathetic qualities and r*pe choir boys, as do the leaders of the catholic church.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Jen

      Well said Josef. I do not understand how anyone could be so unintelligent to believe that morals could not exist without god. For example, a person would not know that murdering someone is immoral? Even though any person would know they don't want to be killed, they are too stupid to make the connection that other people don't either? Ridiculous if you think god needs to tell you the absolute obvious.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • aginghippy

      Nah seems to be saying that the ONLY thing stopping him from being a r*pist or murderer is his fear of going to hell. That makes him not worth listening to any longer.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Nah

      aging: "Morality is among the most subjective of all human principles. Throughout the ages, society has decided what is moral and right and what is immoral and wrong."

      Oh dear. Reading comprehension isn't your forte, is it?

      The question wasn't about historical facts, it was about whether or not objective morality actually exists. To that end, if no god exists, then no objective morality exists. If no objective morality exists, then there is no "right" or "wrong", there is only what you "feel". If that's true, then the only reason you have to not hurt others or do "wrong" is your own feelings of guilt, or your own safety in society.

      "Humans have the capacity for empathy, which allows us to see the wrong in doing to others that which we would hate to be done to us. You don't need an imaginary friend in the sky to possess empathy."

      And you commit a grievous fallacy. Whether humans have empathy doesn't tell us that they "should" or "must" be empathetic. Who are you to say a murderer can't murder? If he can get away with it, he ought to. It's as simple as that.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @NAH – Human beings have a natural instinct to cooperate and take care of their family, friends and not harm each other (only a small percentage of people don't), it's a product of evolution. If we didn't have those qualities, we'd kill each other off and become extinct. Again, no imaginary supernatural being in the sky required, just the natural process of evolution along with common sense and intelligence. Where is your god? Funny that I haven't seen him flying around in his cloud and pillar of fire lately, doing miracles all over the place. It's all just ancient mythology, no different than the Hindu myths, Norse Myths, Greek myths, etc. All primitive cultures had their mythology, in an attempt to explain existence, give comfort to people and control the masses. Christianity is no different, as Colin said, they even stole other myths from other cultures. Use your brain and actually THINK about it, using logic and reason and objectivity instead of blindly accepting ancient mythology.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Nah

      aging: "Nah seems to be saying that the ONLY thing stopping him from being a r*pist or murderer is his fear of going to hell. That makes him not worth listening to any longer."

      Ah, yes. That was what I was saying. Indeed.

      It wasn't a statement about reality or moral truth.

      'we have empathy'

      So the only reason you don't r_ape or murder is because you'll feel bad about it, not because you have a duty to not r_ape or murder others?

      I guess that means you're not worth listening to.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @nah

      So in your view, are the morals that are passed down by "god" moral because he says so? Or does "god" say that they are moral because they intrinsically are moral?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      And NAH, it seems you're more interested in putting people down than having an honest debate. That tells me something about your character.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "Human beings have a natural instinct to cooperate and take care of their family, friends and not harm each other (only a small percentage of people don't), it's a product of evolution."

      Alas, you've failed at reading comprehension again.

      First, the question wasn't whether or not humans have natural feelings of "morality". The question was whether or not morality exists. Once again, if there is no god, morality is merely a subjective feeling. If it's a subjective feeling, it isn't binding on those who don't feel it.

      Second, feelings of "empathy" helping preserve society and future generations is irrelevant. Why? Because why should I care about people who will exist after I'm dead? Why shouldn't I live my life as fully and happily as I can right now, regardless of the destruction I do to others?

      Because that would be "wrong"? Sorry, but in your universe there simply is no "right" or "wrong".

      "Christianity is no different, as Colin said, they even stole other myths from other cultures. Use your brain and actually THINK about it, using logic and reason and objectivity instead of blindly accepting ancient mythology."

      You keep bringing up religion. Why is that? You do realize no one here is talking about the validity of any particular religion, right?

      Not to mention, whether Christianity stole from other religions has no bearing on its validity or the validity of its core belief (i.e., a belief in a god).

      If you would stop to think about it, and use reason and logic, you'd realize that.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • social worker

      Colin- good job having a higher IQ and the b*lls to be rational.
      Do not expect others to have the same IQ. Most people have borderline IQ and need a prize for acting right. Many also need to be reminded every week as they are so stupid they forget how to be good people.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Chef Sun

      @ Colin – Very well stated in a logical concise manner. All gods are created equally by men, but it would be a blast if Thor would duke it out with Apollo and perhaps Athena can have a wild cat fight with Shiva. Zeus or Odin would be a good match against Jesus. Maybe a tag team matchup can be arranged.

      Chef Sun
      NYC

      May 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Nah

      hawaii: "So in your view, are the morals that are passed down by "god" moral because he says so? Or does "god" say that they are moral because they intrinsically are moral?"

      Ah, yes, Euthyphro's dilemma.

      Except it's irrelevant here. Why? Because if a god commands it, you have to obey. Whether he commands it because morality is objective, or merely because he wants it, is irrelevant.

      However, if he commands it because morality is objective, morality can, obviously, exist without a god. However, if it does exist without a god, it is utterly impotent. Why? Because even if moral laws are floating around the universe, they aren't binding on you.

      Hence, Euthyphro's dilemma is irrelevant to virtually every philosophical inquiry.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Nah

      social: "Colin- good job having a higher IQ and the b*lls to be rational."

      Interesting how only people who agree with you have high IQs and are "rational".

      Bit of cognitive bias, eh?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      NAH: "Alas, you've failed at reading comprehension again." another veiled insult. Not very Christian of you. But typical, you don't have a valid point so you try to put down the other person to make yourself look better. You believe in Christianity, simply because you were born in the West. If you'd been born in India, you'd be arguing just as strongly for Hinduism, if you'd been born in Egypt, you'd be arguing just as strongly for Islam. You've been taught practically since birth that Christianity is the only true religion, so of course that's what you believe. It takes a lot to overcome that kind of conditioning, but you can do it if you use your brain and think about it logically and honestly, without factoring in your preconceived ideas.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • One one

      With the crucifixion of Jesus story, the bible teaches that the "sins" of the "guilty" can be absolved by punishing the innocent. Is that a good example of morality to teach our children ?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • pdxmum

      Nah, you don't seem to grasp that the morality of a religious person is akin to the morality of a child: "I must be good to avoid punishment or gain reward." The morality of the atheist is the pure reward of conscience. We do what we do whether anyone is watching or not, just as the vast majority of normal human beings do. Are you saying that a religious person would be a rapist or murderer if only they could be sure god wasn't watching? I don't believe that for one second. Most people aren't criminals because it isn't in human nature to be, because we evolved to be a cooperative species. If you look at the remaining true hunter-gatherer tribes left on this earth, the ones we spent most of our existence living as, they are highly cooperative and communal. Everyone behaves because it's the only way for society to function.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "another veiled insult. Not very Christian of you."

      Who said I'm a Christian?

      "But typical, you don't have a valid point so you try to put down the other person to make yourself look better."

      Ah, yes. Great rebuttal. A conclusory statement with no proof.

      Care to show how and why I don't have a valid point? Or are you going to dogmatically reject what I've said merely because it doesn't fit within your preconceived beliefs about the world?

      'if you were born in India'

      You keep bringing this up, why? It's irrelevant to everything we're discussing. No one cares about the validity of any particular religion because it has no bearing on the (1) the validity of religion in general, (2) the existence of a god, or (3) whether there is a universal morality.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • iconoclast1

      Josef: Excellent comments.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Nah

      Actually if one is claiming that there cannot be objective morality without god it is relevant. If morals are moral because god said so, then it is a form of subjective and authoritative morality, and if the are already objectively moral, then god is not needed.
      You are arguing that no morality can exist without god, that statement is entirely preposterous, whereas you would first need to demonstrate that everyone who rejects the god claim cannot be moral, and that there is even a god to dictate morals.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Nah

      pdx: "Nah, you don't seem to grasp that the morality of a religious person is akin to the morality of a child: "I must be good to avoid punishment or gain reward." The morality of the atheist is the pure reward of conscience."

      You do see the irony in this, right?

      An atheist, just as much as a religious person, is avoiding guilt or punishment when they do what's "right". They're not doing it out of a pure sense of duty.

      "We do what we do whether anyone is watching or not, just as the vast majority of normal human beings do. Are you saying that a religious person would be a rapist or murderer if only they could be sure god wasn't watching?"

      Oh dear. You have the argument right in front of you and yet you still mischaracterize it and make it a strawman. Why is that?

      No one says a religious person or an atheist would be a r_apist or murderer. The question is whether they have a reason to not r_ape or murder outside of (1) their own self interest, or (2) their own conscience.

      You'll find that in the absence of a god, and, therefore, in the absence of a universal morality, no one has any moral reason to avoid doing "wrong" because morality (right and wrong) simply doesn't exist. The only reason they have to avoid doing "wrong" is if the feel the pangs of guilt, or they'll suffer socially.

      The consequence of that is that if you feel no guilt and you can get away with it, you ought to do wrong whenever you can. And no one in society can criticize you because you're merely maximizing your happiness.

      The problem is that people like you want to turn a subjective feeling of morality into an objective, categorical moral truth. Simply put, it can't happen. Sorry.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @NAH – Sorry, I don't believe in a universal morality, I don't believe in good and evil as such, just right action and wrong action. Right action would be things that are good for our species (humanity), wrong action would be things that are bad for our species. That's a natural trait of humans, developed by evolution. As a species, we grow and progress and are successful only through cooperation, so that trait has been reinforced through evolution for millions of years, if it had not, we wouldn't be here, that's how evolution works. It has nothing to do with an imaginary being in the sky.

      If you continue your snide remarks and veiled insults, I for one will not debate with you any longer. You seem to not be following your own definition of morality by insulting others. I've always heard that when someone resorts to insults, they have no more valid points to make and have lost the debate. That seems to be a good description of a lot of your comments.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • SBSTR

      @NAH, can rebut each of Colin's points in a reasonable manner, specifically let me call out two (both sort of related)
      – the Christianity refers to only 600 years of history, and only refers to a small geography (not even the entire earth)
      – why "leap of faith" argument is valid for Christianity and not for other independent faiths, which have many contradictory beliefs compared to Christianity, and if they are equally valid, how can they all be equally valid

      Don't just come with a rhetorical response, please reason it out!!

      May 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Nah

      hawaii: "If morals are moral because god said so, then it is a form of subjective and authoritative morality, and if the are already objectively moral, then god is not needed."

      Please do try to read carefully.

      First, if a god commands that something is so, merely because it tickles his fancy, then it is "objective" morality simply because everyone and every thing must follow it.

      Second, if a god commands that something is so, because there is an objective truth of the matter, then there is objective morality because it is universal and binding.

      Third, if no god exists, but there is objective morality – – because moral laws are floating around the universe – – they aren't binding and are impotent. Why? Because you have no reason to follow them unless doing so is in your own self interest.

      "You are arguing that no morality can exist without god"

      Not really. I argued, quite explicitly, that there can be no meaningful, binding morality in the absence of a god. Even if you can imagine objective moral laws floating around the universe, they have no meaning because they cannot control you.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Colin

      nah, first, sorry for the radio silence, I am in São Paulo and the internet access is spasmodic. To take up your point on morality, I cannot fathom how there is such a thing as "objective morality". Morality is nothing more than a value judgment on a set of facts – eg.g should gay marriage be allowed, is the death penalty ever justified etc.

      To say morality exists outsid ethe rhelm of human value judgments is absurd.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      nah,
      If you would open an Anthropology text book, (try the one for 5th graders), you would not post such drivel. The origins of morality do not lie in religion, as every Sociologist, Psychiatrist, Anthropologist, and EVERY other scientist knows. But thanks for telling us, that YOU, without your bible, would be a murderer.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • One one

      There is no such thing as " objective" morality. However, we live by the values, rules, and laws that society collectively agrees to.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "Sorry, I don't believe in a universal morality, I don't believe in good and evil as such, just right action and wrong action. Right action would be things that are good for our species (humanity), wrong action would be things that are bad for our species."

      And the problem is precisely: why should *your* morality be binding on me? Why should *I* care about the sake of the species, future generations, or, in fact, other living people?

      You're trying to create (once again) an objective, universal rule from subjective principles. You're saying that X and Y are good for the human species, therefore X and Y must be followed by everyone.

      It's simply preposterous.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Nah

      bucky: "If you would open an Anthropology text book, (try the one for 5th graders), you would not post such drivel. The origins of morality do not lie in religion, as every Sociologist, Psychiatrist, Anthropologist, and EVERY other scientist knows. But thanks for telling us, that YOU, without your bible, would be a murderer."

      Oh dear. You do know the difference between an "is" and an "ought", right?

      The question isn't whether there have been different moralities throughout history, or whether or not different societies believe different things. The question is simply whether or not there is such a thing as morality, whether it's binding, and whether or not you can dictate that, for example, murder is "wrong" and ought to be punished.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Colin

      objective morality, when used as "evidence" of the existence of god is classic circular reasoning; "I believe in god because of the existence of objective morality and I believe in objective morality because I believe in god. silly stuff.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "To take up your point on morality, I cannot fathom how there is such a thing as "objective morality". Morality is nothing more than a value judgment on a set of facts – eg.g should gay marriage be allowed, is the death penalty ever justified etc."

      We're on the same page. In the absence of a god there simply is no objective morality. Humans can do as they wish. Hence, if doing "wrong" brings you happiness, and you can get away with it, you ought to do wrong. If doing "right" brings you happiness, you ought to do right.

      But your own feelings of right and wrong can never be binding on others, then. Gay marriage, slavery, etc. are no longer moral questions (because no one can have "rights"), they're merely questions of who is most powerful in society. But that has the consequence of meaning that oppressive, dictatorial governments are never doing anything wrong so long as they stay in power.

      We don't disagree 🙂

      May 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @NAH – I don't dictate what should be followed by everyone. Society does that. Based for the most part on consensus. What I'm saying is that society bases that on what is harmful to humans and what is beneficial to humans. No imaginary being in the sky is required for that, just intelligence and an inherited compassion and instinct to cooperate with other members of our species. Traits that came from evolution, not an imaginary being in the sky.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "objective morality, when used as "evidence" of the existence of god is classic circular reasoning; "I believe in god because of the existence of objective morality and I believe in objective morality because I believe in god. silly stuff."

      Please don't mischaracterize the argument.

      The question was only on whether or not morality exists and whether or not it's binding.

      If it's objective but god-less, it's not binding.

      If it's subjective, it doesn't exist.

      Etc.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Nah

      Guess what, morality is not something that is binding in the sense that it physically prevents you from doing something. Morality is a construct by humans in order for the society in which we are living to operate in an effective and fair (as much as we can make it at the time) manner. Every individual in any society is free to break that morality at any point in time, but it is a risk/reward senario, as the consequences imposed by the society would then be applied.
      There is an ultimate authority on morality you're correct about that. That moral authority is that person. People use their personal morals in interaction with other individuals, and societal morals when dealing with the public at large. No god really needed.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      nah,

      "Because in the absence of a god, no morality can exist."

      Have you seen a doctor about that short attention span problem ?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "What I'm saying is that society bases that on what is harmful to humans and what is beneficial to humans. No imaginary being in the sky is required for that, just intelligence and an inherited compassion and instinct to cooperate with other members of our species."

      You're right.

      But you're also wrong if you want to pretend that doing what helps society is binding on us.

      Under your view, if society wants to oppress Jews, it may. If it wants to keep slaves, it may. If it wants to ban gay marriage and women's right to vote, it may. If it wants to do anything it may do anything so long as it has the power to do so.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Nah

      hawaii: "There is an ultimate authority on morality you're correct about that. That moral authority is that person. People use their personal morals in interaction with other individuals, and societal morals when dealing with the public at large. No god really needed."

      You're right. But you're missing the point, once again.

      No god is needed for society to say it will tolerate X but not Y. But morality is needed to say "You have the right to X" or "You have the right to stop Y".

      If the measure of your morality is merely what society wants, then you can, and should, do what you please. If you can get away with it, no one can complain. Can they?

      "what is fair"

      You do realize that the word "fair" is normative, and so moral, right?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Colin

      nah, so if objective morality is dependent upon the existence of a god, it is every bit as highly unlikley as the existence of a god. It is not evidence of a god, it is dependent upon a god. So, as you say, no god=no objective morality.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      NAH: "Under your view, if society wants to oppress Jews, it may. If it wants to keep slaves, it may. If it wants to ban gay marriage and women's right to vote, it may. If it wants to do anything it may do anything so long as it has the power to do so."

      Joseph: Yes, that's correct. CERTAIN societies can do that and get away with it for a while, such as the NAZI party did in Germany, but ultimately, the other societies of the world may not like that and overthrow them, as we did in WWII. But again, morality in each society is dictated by the consensus of the majority. Other societies may not think your societies moral values are appropriate, but you may not think theirs are either. But yet again, no invisible supernatural man in the sky required. Just intelligence, common sense and an inherited compassion and willingness to cooperate that comes naturally from the evolution of our species.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "nah, so if objective morality is dependent upon the existence of a god, it is every bit as highly unlikley as the existence of a god. It is not evidence of a god"

      To say the existence of a god is unlikely is to reject (ironically) logic and physical science. The ontological argument, an exercise in pure logic, is quite an impressive proof. The cosmological arguments, based as it is on logic and physical causality, is equally impressive.

      The fact that something came from nothing, of its own accord, casts a lot of doubt on the universe coming into being on its own.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @nah

      And I also stated quite clearly that "morality" is a construct of man. Morality is incredibly subjective, and the only way to objectively determine the merits of a moral standpoint is to see how it would affect not only the person, but also everyone else in the society. That's not to say you're useing "objective morals", it's using an objective viewpoint on the pros and cons of a proposed moral standard.
      Do you think that there is a god handing down edicts on what is moral and not?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Nah

      josef: "But yet again, no invisible supernatural man in the sky required. Just intelligence, common sense and an inherited compassion and willingness to cooperate that comes naturally from the evolution of our species."

      First, you mistaking, again, what "is" with what "ought" to be. No one said humans can't make up morality without a god. The question was, again, whether it can actually exist in a meaningful form.

      Second, you're trying feebly to turn your own subjective moral feelings of "compassion" into an binding moral principle. The fact remains, however, that if society doesn't want to be compassionate they can (under your view) do what they please. That means you can never look to Nazi Germany and say, "Killing Jews was wrong." You can only look at Nazi Germany and say, "They didn't win the war."

      That also means you can never champion gay "rights", you can never say slavery was "wrong", you can never say "discrimination should not occur." Why? Because people with different moral principles than you have morals that are just as valid as yours.

      Try to keep that in mind.

      Adieu.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Colin

      what are the ontological argument and the cosmological argument?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      NAH – you don't believe that something came from nothing of its own accord. Then where did your god come from? Did he magically poof himself into existence? Cause and effect. If an invisible, supernatural being exists, he had to have had a creator, and his creator must have had a creator, etc. ad infinitum.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Colin

      That also means you can never champion gay "rights", you can never say slavery was "wrong", you can never say "discrimination should not occur." Why? Because people with different moral principles than you have morals that are just as valid as yours

      not so, a very easily defensible line is whether the conduct in question hurst another.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      nah,
      Tell us, where exactly YOU have observed "nothing" in this universe ?
      The fact is it's a Philosophical construction. It does NOT exist. Quantum Mechanics has proven that. Did you go to school in the 1950's ?

      May 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Colin

      At it's base, the original ontological argument for god said:

      1.Our understanding of God is a being than which no greater can be conceived.
      2.The idea of God exists in the mind.
      3.A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.
      4.If God only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.
      5.We cannot be imagining something that is greater than God.
      6.Therefore, God exists.

      The cosmological argument:

      1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
      2.The Universe began to exist.
      3.Therefore, the Universe had a cause
      The cosmological argument is also known as the Kalam argument.

      Both have been pretty well refutted.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Jimmy G.

      It appears that Nah / Lycidas has left for the nonce.
      Good arguments you guys! I was impressed!

      I would have said things slightly different myself, but he always leaves when he sees he is losing anyway.
      But I would have tried to shorten the argument some way. This thread grew long very quickly.
      And I noticed no one mentioned moral relativism. You all danced around it but the words themselves never came forth.
      Frustrating to see but enjoyable to read anyway...

      May 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  12. Anna

    What an insult to all of the nuns who truly walk in the footsteps of Christ by serving the poor.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Howard of Alexandria

      Even as a "fallen away Catholic," I've long felt the nuns were everything the Church is supposed to be, but the rest of the Church too often isn't.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Thank you Anna.
      Disagree about "details", but 99.99 % of people here do not even actually know 1 nun.
      Not belieber, but have many friends "there". They are kind, wise, gentle, and VERY hard working.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  13. Emmsy

    What's hilarious about this story is that the nuns in the picture that the articles author used don't belong to the LCWR conference!! They belong to the other womens religious conference that honor Church teaching!! It's pretty funny that they used it because you would RARELY find one of the LCWR members in a habit!!!

    May 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • kerry

      That is not true. There are some members who still choose to wear the habit.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  14. Beadles

    The Catholic church doesn't care about the poor. They can't possibly when they condemn any form of birth control, esp. in impoverished countries. The Pope & his cronies are a bunch of self-serving, arrogant hypocrites who care only about amassing great wealth & keeping women in their place.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sue

      And how does this make them different from many conservative evangelical pastors? The "old boys" are in charge of all the conservative churches.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Emmsy

      What the heck are you talking about!! The Catholic Church is THE leading organization around the world feeding and serving the poor. You're just a hater who isn't interested in the truth. Get some facts bud, cause you're just hating and slandering with no basis for what you say.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Dennis

      Oh yes, a lovely anti-Catholic poster. Tell me how much have you done for the 'poor'? Since the Catholic church is one of the the largest charitable organizations in the WORLD and in the US and has been for centuries, mind telling us what YOU have done?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Howard of Alexandria

      Actually, the Church cares a great deal about the poor. They want there to be as many poor people as possible. Educated and prosperous people are much more problematic for the Church; the poor can be led around by the nose. When you have nothing in this life, and little hope of getting anything in this life, you ripe for the picking by those promising something more in the next life.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Sue

      Howard of Alexandria
      Who's leading all the poor down in the Bible Belt around by their noses? Not the Catholic church!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  15. Montello

    The Catholic Church blindly takes yet another step toward irrelevance and extinction.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Cq

      Isn't that what they said around the time of the Reformation? They've been around since the beginning of Christianity; I wouldn't count them out for a very long time.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Emmsy

      Jesus: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it" It's either believe you or Jesus. I know who I choose. Jesus was a lover, not a hater! 🙂

      May 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Dennis

      Your obviously not Catholic so what business is it of yours? Except for the fact that IF the Chruch ever ceased to function YOUR taxes will go up to pay for what they do for free right now (assuming you do pay taxes and arent an OWS thug.)

      May 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Cq

      Dennis
      He looks forward to it like owners of MicroSoft look forward to Apple crumbling; more people will switch to their "product", in this case, conservative evangelicalism.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Montello

      Well, you can't deny that the priesthood is rapidly disappearing and the Catholic churches are playing to an ever-shrinking audiences, even in traditional strongholds such as Italy, Ireland, and Latin America.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  16. echo

    I think we should build a uh, a big fence, 50 or 100 miles long, and put all the celibate nuns in there, build another one for the monks and priests. Fly over, drop, uh, you know, some food. In a little while, they'll all die out, because, you know, they don't reproduce. I'm again' it, and can you imagine, taking a vow to never even kiss another man or woman?? It just ain't right, you know?

    May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • hail mary

      🙂 funny!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Paul

      Iff'n you ain't AGIN it, you's FER it!!! It's in the BAAAAAAAHBLE!!!!!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      hail mary full of grace,
      may someone hot sit on your face.

      (ok, i'll go to confession already).

      May 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  17. terri

    Glad to read the good sisters are waking up from their coma. Their are plenty of other churches that would show them the respect they deserve. With the catholic church if you aren't male you are nothing.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Cq

      They might get what they want in the moderate sects, but not the conservative protestant ones. I can't see them taking up the mantra of Bible inerrancy, sinfulness of gays, and opposition to science that would be required of them choosing the "born again" path, do you?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  18. asdf

    "We will engage in dialogue where possible and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit."

    ...in other news, the local Toys R Us is out of Ouija boards.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  19. Colin

    Hey nah, a few questions should help highlight the absurdityand childishness of Catholicism

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Medicine;

    (c) Economics; or

    (d) Catholicism

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:

    (a) historian;

    (b) geologist;

    (c) NASA astronomer; or

    (d) Catholic

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Catholic with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Catholic

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Catholic

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) A mafia boss

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) A Catholic Priest

    May 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Nah

      Aww, more ad hominems?

      Is that really the best you can do? 😦

      Logic isn't your strong point, I know, but your foolish rants are a bit embarrassing.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Pants

      Atheists are always so damned verbose.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Emmsy

      God exists and He loves you dearly.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Cando

      The Rant Rats are at it again.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Statement by 'Nah' regarding ad hominem content is largely unsupported within the prior post content by 'Colin'.

      Post by 'Nah' is itself an instance of a hasty generalization fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      May 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Nah

      fallacy: "Statement by 'Nah' regarding ad hominem content is largely unsupported within the prior post content by 'Colin'."

      Nah. It takes a simple reading of his last post to understand that what subtends his argument is merely an insult, not a substantive rebuttal of religion, and not a substantive rebuttal of the Catholic position.

      "Post by 'Nah' is itself an instance of a hasty generalization fallacy."

      Please don't use Google to find fallacies. You'll use them wrongly, like you just did.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Jimbo

      Colin
      Well articulated in both posts. The "nu-uh" response is both stupid and ironic in that it mentions logic but offers none.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Cq

      Colin
      Here's some corrections on your "test" for you:

      1 (d) should read "Christianity", not just Catholicism, right?

      2 (d) should read "creationist" as many, if not most Catholics don't have a problem with the big bang, or evolution.

      3 (d) should read "conservative Christian" to include the evangelicals who also feel this way.

      4 (d) should read "average Christian."

      6 (d) should also read "average Christian."

      10 (d) should read "any clergy."

      May 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Nah

      jimbo: "Well articulated in both posts. The "nu-uh" response is both stupid and ironic in that it mentions logic but offers none."

      *yawn* Yes, yes, because a substantive rebuttal showing (1) the fallacy being used, (2) why it's fallacious, and (3) demonstrating how and why that makes "Colin's" argument a failure is "stupid" and "ironic" while avoiding being "logical".

      You're smart 🙂

      May 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Sheila

      Did you have to write this in MS Word over an hour or so and then come back to copy and paste? Seriously – this is a COMMENT section, not a THESIS sectoin

      May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Jimbo

      Nah:
      "*yawn* Yes, yes, because a substantive rebuttal showing (1) the fallacy being used, (2) why it's fallacious, and (3) demonstrating how and why that makes "Colin's" argument a failure is "stupid" and "ironic" while avoiding being "logical".

      You're smart "

      And now you know what a strawman is. It's an argument that is off point but pretends to be relevant.

      yes, I am smart.Smart enough to know that any argument which has as its core the premise that no evidence is needed is not really an argument. It's a simple statement of faith. Simple being the key word.
      Keep up the hateful work, all the basest elements of the church love morons like you who try to frighten as a way of bullying.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  20. MashaSobaka

    The Catholic Church can adapt or die. Perhaps it should follow these women's lead and update to modern times.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.