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. BILL

    Hey OOO,
    When your mom or dad or son or daughter or sister or brother or you are on your deathbed so sad you have no hope in life after death! It must be a sick feeling havin no hope beyond this world.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • OOO

      No, how sad it is that you need a make believe story to give you a reason to live. I have no problem knowing that I have just 1 prescious life to enjoy. That's why I try to make the most of it.

      You appear to be waiting to die.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  2. Douglas

    The next Pope should be one of the Sisters of Loretto! A logical and worthy successor to John XXIII.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  3. The Rev. Jonathan E Frazier

    Dear Sisters, there is a home for you in the Episcopal Church, where you are most welcome.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • hail mary

      Oh so quick to pick over the carcass. Religions just have to have missionaries.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • terri


      May 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Joe Gila

      Well said Father ! In the REAL Catholic Church (not the one depicted in CNN, TIME , NEWSWEEK, NY TIMES etc, Souls are being saved and people lead to Christ. Vocations worldwide are increasing. Let the fish wraps worry about the Pope's butler.... The Holy Spirit is still (as always) moving the Church !

      May 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Rick


      You can have a few nuns if you give up a few of your "Priests." And you are welcomed to come yourself as many already have 🙂

      May 31, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  4. beelzabarber

    Pits church men against church women...? Church men like alter boys, so whats the news?

    May 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  5. The Dude


    May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Colin

      I love this clip. Thanks Dude.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  6. Popcorn Papa

    So, from reading this message board, the repeated theme I infer is that it's okay to generalize groups of people just as long as the generalizations are not based on race. Ignorance abounds.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Catherine

      Nuns have faithfully served the Catholic Church for centuries without recognition or pay.
      The Church has lost its way. Compassion defines Christ's work as does inclusion and love. In the first centuries of Catholicism (not called that) women had a prominent role.
      Sadly, the Catholic Church today is very far removed from its roots.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Popcorn Papa

      Catherine- I don't totally disagree with you but I also believe that the Church is a living, evolving thing. Your post says states as much.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Exactly. Thank you !
      If it has a future at all, it will be because of these wise, gentle, and hard working women.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  7. BOBBY

    "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" The church has no future because it is petty and stupid....and because intelligence and an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong is know to all through the few just civilizations that exist...to include the USA.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  8. The Dude

    Nuns cannot sodomize so they are not in the club.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • eprobono

      Because they're scissor sisters?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  9. BILL

    You foolish catholic bashers have no idea what you are saying! All you who will hold out to the end with our holy church please dont listen to these hell bound haters of christianity.It is evil tryin to destroy our church.Remember our church leaders are human and are sometimes weak to temptation.Dont bash a whole religion cause a few fall! We will laugh at them in the end from heaven while they weep and gnash their teeth in the fires of hell!

    May 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • OOO

      Is that why you believe this fairy tale, because you are afraid of the hell that they have brainwashed you with?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • One one

      Preaching that people who don't believe as you do will burn in hell is not a good way to win supporters. It's also absurd. That is why religion is heading toward extinction.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Popcorn Papa

      OOO- You should learn the difference between fairy tales and anecdotes or parables. That would probably be in your own best interest.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • OOO

      ..and how would that help me in this instance?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • terri

      The catholic church has a global history of evil. It is amazing it is allowed to call itself a church at all.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • asdf

      You're going to laugh at us from heaven? I thought you were supposed to be praying for us to see the light. Seems like you are really just a normal, vindictive person after all.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Justice

      To OOO, go back listening to you Hip Hop God and while you're at it, don't forget to take your Extacy pills you love so much, Do us that favor will you.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • OOO

      Hip hop god? What are you talking about???

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

      Sorry, Bill, if you're going to Laugh at those in Hell, I hereby banish you from Heaven. Very truly yours, God.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Popcorn Papa

      OOO- Contrary to what the generalized opinion of Catholics/Christians is, and this might come as a shock to you, most Catholics/Christians are not fundamentalists that take the bible literally. So to use your own words, 'belieiving in a fairy tale' is not the same as attempting to establish a moral compass that is based on the latent knowledge of those who came before us.

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

      To SBP, man just take two Midols then change diapers and go to bed, that will do you good, trust me.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • OOO

      So you are saying that Bill's post caliming that we non-believers are going to burn in hell is not something that he really believes because Bill doesn't believe literally in the bible? You know that is the fairy tale I was referring to, don't you?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Popcorn Papa

      OOO- Then I apologize to you for replying to your comment out of context.

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

      Easy steps to starting a successful religion.

      First, the rules:

      Rule number 1: Believe or else
      Rule number 2: See rule number 1.
      Rule number 3: See rule number 1.

      NEXT: Convince vulnerable, prospective devotees that they are worthless trash; sinners, who are certain to burn in hell and suffer the brutality of their loving god's wrath because they deserve it.

      NEXT: When the vulnerable, prospective devotees have been sufficiently pounded down by indoctrination and fear of death, promise them a "get out of hell, go directly to heaven" pass.

      HINT: This last tactic is most successful if you play to their emotions with a story full of drama, torture, blood, sacrifice and death. Teach them that it is moral and just to absolve the "sins" of the guilty by punishing the innocent. And for good measure, dazzle them with stories about miracles.

      NEXT: To obtain a " Get out of hell, go directly to heaven" pass, See rule number 1.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  10. Colin

    The median age of nuns is 70, the number of new priests is dropping like a stone and the internet contiues to expose young minds to the utter garbage of Catholicisim. I am becoming increasingly optimistic that it is a dying insti.tution.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  11. SacredFire

    Man horribly fails to understand the nature of G-d. He/She is here to touch but we never open our eyes.

    "Alas, alas for you, Lawyers and pharisees
    Hypocrites that you are
    Searching for souls and fools to forsake them
    You travel the land you scour the sea (and any breathing man will do..let us protect our own!)
    After you've got your converts you make them
    Twice as fit for hell!
    As you are yourselves!

    Blind Fools!"

    May 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Susie

      You need to credit where this came from – "Godspell" a rock opera based on the gospel of Matthew. So it's not bashing religion or christianity, just hypocrites who think they know more than God.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  12. Thomas

    I honestly don't know how anyone could consider the Vatican to be in possession of one scintilla of moral authority. They are the face of evil on earth.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Saby

      Yes, and people who go around trashing a whole group of people are pure and good. Thanks!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Leonard Agoawike

      Hey Tom, how did you come to that conclusion. You must be omnipotent. Good for you!

      May 31, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  13. Jim

    If they quit, I hope they meet nice men. They'll have a hard time just striking out on their own in this economy, and not many employers want someone who breaks commitments and challenges authority. Personally, considering my childhood experiences, I think someone should rap their knuckles with a ruler, and tell them to sit down and shut up. But I don;t think that's gonna happen.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • terri

      What planet do you live on?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • crowing

      terri, Jim is referring to the behavior of many nuns in the 1950's. That was their form of discipline for anything from a low grade to passing notes to talking in class. It's a fact.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  14. nope

    Catholic Church is nothing more than a HUGE CULT– No better than Jim Jones was worshiping their idols and such.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  15. Butch

    The next pape will be the last according to the St Malachy prophecy, (a catholic bishop himself). he will also be the False Prophet from the Book of Revelation pointing all universal religions to the anti-christ (the eighth will be of the seven and shall go unto perdition), most likely a satanic infilling of pape john's carcass given great power by YAHweh thru satan to fulfill the Scriptures in the faithlessness and wickedness of man's heart. To him that has an ear, let him hear the voice of the Lord!!!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • OOO

      Ummm, come to the 21'st century please.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. martog

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.
    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.
    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.
    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.
    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.
    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.
    7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.
    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.
    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).
    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.
    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10

    May 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Nah

      Aww, a tirade filled with ad hominems. How cute 🙂

      So much for your (misguided) belief in your own rationality, eh?

      May 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Colin

      So Nah, do you have an answer to any of Martog's (actually my) criticisms?

      May 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "So Nah, do you have an answer to any of Martog's (actually my) criticisms?"

      Sorry, but what is there to respond to?

      You mean you want someone to give validity to your illogical, fallacy-ridden tirade? Lol.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • martog

      Hi Colin! Glad you could join us. Hope you don't mind me reposting your ....what did the NAH call it...oh yea.TIRADE. peace.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      Do you honestly think anyone is going to read your pointless rant?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • martog

      Colin, I don't think Nah really has anything logical to say. Can't have a rational discussion with an irrational(religious) person

      May 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Colin

      martog – of course not, I smile whenever I see it and my "ten commandments for rational thought" that you often post. The more we expose young people to the utter nonsense of religion the better.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • martog

      It's only pointless to those that cannot comprehend it

      May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Popcorn Papa

      So, from reading this message board, the repeated theme I infer is that it's okay to generalize groups of people just as long as the generalizations are not based on race. Ignorance abounds.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • martog

      Yes, indeed, religion is quite ignorant

      May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Nah

      Since, evidently, you aren't intelligent to see how fallacious your statements are, I'll go through them one by one:

      1) True, but irrelevant because it has nothing to do with religion, it's a criticism aimed exclusively at people who do, in fact, believe the Pope is infallible.

      2) Irrelevant strawman. You may as well criticize modern scientists for not believing in any science from the last 5,000 years, or all modern forms of "alternative" science and medicine. - The fact that there are "other" beliefs has no bearing on the validity of "this" belief.

      3) Ad hominem and mischaracterization of history and fact. The Church has accepted evolution since its inception, as well as the Big Bang theory, etc.

      4) Another ad hominem with a mischaracterization (and strawman) of Catholic beliefs.

      5) Another strawman. There's nothing inconsistent with believing that killing or suffering may be justified. You know, like putting a mur_derer in prison is "right", while putting an innocent person in prison is "wrong".

      6) Another ad hominem.

      7) Another ad hominem based on an assumption about what Christians believe.

      8) Another ad hominem based on an assumption about what Christians believe, alongside a strawman and mischaracterization. Beliefs in what consti_tutes "justice" (punishment) are different in beliefs that justify wanton suffering. Not to mention: invincible ignorance is a defense to not accepting Catholic teachings.

      9) Another ad hominem and mischaracterization. Transubstantiation is a philosophical position for anyone who believes in Aristotelian metaphysics, and it's symbolic for everyone else. Not to mention, lumping all Christians into the anti-science crowd is not only absurd, it's narrow minded and dogmatic.

      10) Ad hominem.

      11) Ad hominem and mischaracterization.

      Now don't you feel stupid, eh?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Nah

      martog: "Colin, I don't think Nah really has anything logical to say. Can't have a rational discussion with an irrational(religious) person"


      You assume I'm religious and immediate cast off anything and everything I'd say as irrational and unworthy of discussion.

      Makes you a bit of a dogmatic mor0n, eh?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Saby

      This does not qualify as a rant. There should be something below that.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Nah

      saby: "This does not qualify as a rant. There should be something below that."

      Militant ignorance and stupidity masquerading as logic and reason?

      Probably something akin to that.

      It's sad to see people push their own philosophically and historically misinformed views, and then use them to justify their own bigotry and intolerance. Like martog.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Lol

      "This does not qualify as a rant. There should be something below that."..

      Yep.. should be put in the same bin as bible.. these two are simple the two ends of the same brittle stick..

      May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Colin

      I will only respond to point 3 of nah's because it is the most irritating. The RCC put Darwin on the list of banned books for decades.and railed against evolution. It was only when mountains of evidence proved beyond all sane doubt that Genises is a crock of sh.it that the church lied and changed its position. For almost 2,000 years those who denied the literal truth of the bible were silenced, threatened, even killed.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "The RCC put Darwin on the list of banned books for decades.and railed against evolution. It was only when mountains of evidence proved beyond all sane doubt that Genises is a crock of sh.it that the church lied and changed its position."

      You do know that Evolution and the Big Bang (contradicting a literal reading of Genesis) are not the same thing, right?

      Not to mention, the church had no official position on evolution, and hadn't taken Genesis literally for quite some time. If there was a ban, it wasn't - evidently - from a high position in the church.

      "For almost 2,000 years those who denied the literal truth of the bible were silenced, threatened, even killed."

      You mean like any political group since time immemorial?

      'I'm only going to respond to point 3'

      Perhaps that's because you can't respond to points 1 through 11?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Lol

      and nah.. somehow you seem to think your ad hominem is better than the original poster's argument that YOU say is ad hominem. You are not being any more rational or logical than you accuse others of..

      Funny how tables turn..

      May 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nah

      lol: "and nah.. somehow you seem to think your ad hominem is better than the original poster's argument that YOU say is ad hominem. You are not being any more rational or logical than you accuse others of.."

      Nah. Pointing out the logical fallacies in someone's argument isn't an ad hominem, no matter how stupid it makes them look.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Drew Miller

      I missed that. Could you please repeat it?

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

      actually nah, most of your points are simply "ad hominem" because of the way the criticism is framed.

      What made you think I confused the BB with evolution??

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

      @Nah.. who brought up big bang theory? I do not see anyone other than you even talk about big bang theory and now you accuse someone else of not knowing it from evolution.

      good try building a strawman.. but what you try here is intellectually immoral

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

      colin: "actually nah, most of your points are simply "ad hominem" because of the way the criticism is framed."

      Not really. Ad hominems rely on disproving someone's position by insulting either the person making them, or the position that's taken.

      My arguments pointed out merely how and why your arguments are not arguments at all. Namely by showing that they're illogical or that don't prove what they pretend they prove.

      'BB and evolution'

      Because you seemed to link Darwin with the church's position on Genesis. The difficulty for Genesis is in the Big Bang, not necessarily with Evolution.

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

      colin: "What made you think I confused the BB with evolution??"

      Because of your absurd and historically inaccurate belief that the church changed its position on Evolution and Genesis only after "mountains of evidence" was given to them and they were "backed into a corner."

      Except the Catholic Church has long held that Genesis isn't literal, had no official position on Evolution, supported the science of Evolution, etc. Genesis came in with the Big Bang and Lemaitre. Most notably when the Pope exclaimed, "You've found Genesis!"

      Naturally, Lemaitre didn't like that because he knew closed minded academics and atheists would immediately reject the Big Bang simply because a religious figure endorsed it.

      Funny how that still works.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Montello

      It appears that Nah has learned a new phrase and is trying to impress us with it. I wonder if he knows what "ad hominem" means. Kinda doubt it. I learned that an "ad hominem" is a logical fallacy. So when Nah responds that a logical, well thought out statement is an "ad hominem" based on his own mindless medieval dogmatic beliefs, he is the one actually committing the "ad hominem"

      May 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Nah

      mont: "So when Nah responds that a logical, well thought out statement is an "ad hominem" based on his own mindless medieval dogmatic beliefs, he is the one actually committing the "ad hominem""

      Oh dear. Please, for your own sake, look up the following words: (1) ad hominem, (2) dogmatic, (3) logical.

      First, Colin's argument was neither logical nor well thought out precisely for the reasons above. Namely, because they're based on fallacies.

      Second, your unsubstantiated assertion, while cute, is not proof. Care to show us how and why Colin's argument was "well thought out" and, more importantly, "logical"?

      Third, the reason Colin's arguments are ad hominems is because they try to refute religion/Catholicism by *gasp* insulting them, not by showing how and they're wrong in a meaningful sense. Hence, my criticisms have nothing to do with the religious beliefs I may or may not have, and everything to do with logic itself.

      Good job?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  17. Snow

    Honestly, do the male leaders of catholic church do anything other than plot, talk and limit rights for others? Any respect I have for catholic faith is because of the nuns who dedicate their lives to educate children in schools. Shameful to restrict those who try to do some actual work!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  18. longtooth

    I salute the nuns who have the courage to stand up for the words of Jesus. The leaders of the Catholic Church have lost their way. Maybe it's time for women to lead the way to Truth.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  19. Albert911emt

    The nuns of the Catholic church do far more of "God's work", and are much better followers of Jesus' mission than the priests or cardinals of the church. The male leaders of the church have shown once again just how threatened they are by the nuns, and women in general. If a large majority of the nuns resigned, who would take up their work? Would a priest or cardinal volunteer to empty a patient's bedpan in a Catholic hospital? Feeding the sick? Manning a suicide hotline? Yeah, right.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  20. tamar

    The Catholic Church is a product of the middle ages, during which it probably saved European civilization. In its early centuries it grew and adapted to demanding, difficult changes. But its point of view was eventually fixed forever in medieval ways of thinking, and the possibilities of growing and remaining relevant have been shrinking for some time. It could not even apologize for persecuting Galileo until the 1960's. It's current craziness is sad to see for someone who has so deeply admired its ancient contributions.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Nah

      You do realize that the Catholic Church is incredibly progressive when it comes to science, right?

      Or is Galileo your only knowledge of both history and the church?

      May 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Colin

      nah – they believe that grocary store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus-pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning; that a being reads my mind whenever I pray and intervenes to change what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to "answer my prayers"; and that I will survive my own physical deathand live happily ever after if I follow some rules laid down by goat herders in Bronze Age Palestine.

      Yeah, real scientific and progressive aren't they.....

      May 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "Yeah, real scientific and progressive aren't they....."

      Aww, a strawman with an ad hominem. How cute 🙂

      Logic isn't your strong point, is it?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • LouAZ

      "it probably saved European civilization" ? ? ? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !!!!!

      May 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Colin

      nah -stop dodging it. Tell me what I got wrong or accpet that your church believes this childish dribble.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Sheepleherder

      nah – I don't think believing that a fertilized egg is a "human being" is very scientific. How much more basic to science is that?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • BOBBY

      Nah...Galileo was CONSTANTLY AT ODDS WITH THE CHURCH....to include the churches insistence that everything orbited the earth.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Nah

      sheep: "nah – I don't think believing that a fertilized egg is a "human being" is very scientific. How much more basic to science is that?"

      Aww, more strawmen?

      Is that really the best you can do?

      I mean, forget the Catholic Church's acceptance of evolution, the Big Bang, their pursuit of mathematics, quantum physics, astronomy, etc. Instead we'll focus on a disagreement about when life begins, and conclude they're ignorant totally and everywhere.

      Brilliant position to take.

      "believing that a fertilized egg is a "human being" is very scientific."

      Except it is. And you do know why, right? Because that fertilized egg - all things being equal - will be a human in 9 months. Hence, you kill the fertilized egg, you kill the human being that would have existed.

      It's a question of identi_ty and physical continuity. But if you were, say, a dogmatic and militant partisan, you'd never realize that.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Nah

      bobby: "Nah...Galileo was CONSTANTLY AT ODDS WITH THE CHURCH....to include the churches insistence that everything orbited the earth."

      First, no one disputed that the church was against Galileo and that they were wrong. The issue was the Church's current and past support for science. Not their position against a new science 500 years ago.

      Second, it wasn't the "church's" insistence that everything orbited the earth. Why? Because that conclusion was dictated by *gasp* science. Do you know why? Because physics for 1,500 years followed Aristotle's teachings. And Aristotle, you'll remember, posited that heavy things move "downward" and light things move "upward". That's why heavy things - the earth - are at the center of the universe.

      Without the theory of gravity, heliocentrism destroyed virtually all scientific knowledge without replacing it with anything remotely coherent.

      Oh, sorry, did I burst your ignorant balloon?

      May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
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About this blog

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.