American nuns come out swinging against Vatican in face of ‘radical feminist’ accusations
Protesters in New York show support for American nuns in the face of Vatican criticism.
June 1st, 2012
09:42 AM ET

American nuns come out swinging against Vatican in face of ‘radical feminist’ accusations

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – The leadership representing most of America’s nuns came out swinging Friday against the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, in the face of charges from the Vatican that the nuns are espousing “radical feminism” and straying from church teaching.

The Vatican’s criticism of the American nuns has “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization,” the Leadership Conference of Women Religious - which represents about 80% of American nuns - said in a statement Friday.

The board of the group had convened in Washington this week for three days of special meetings, provoked by an April assessment from the Vatican that said America’s nuns had largely gone rogue and warned that they could be a negative global influence on the church.

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 said the nuns were too focused on social justice and not enough on opposing abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious said Friday that the assessment “was based on unsubstantiated accusations and (was) the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.”

“Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise (the nuns’) ability to fulfill their mission,” the statement continued.

The Leadership Conference’s 22-member board said that its leaders would travel to Rome this month to meet with the head of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that launched an investigation of the American nuns several years ago.

Hours later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement from Archbishop Peter Sartain in which he vowed there was a wholehearted commitment "to dealing with the important issues raised by (the Vatican's) doctrinal assessment and the LCWR board in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, integrity and fidelity."

"I look forward to our next meeting in Rome in June as we continue to collaborate in promoting the important work of the LCWR for consecrated life in the United States," said Sartain, who heads the Archdiocese of Seattle. "The Holy See and the Bishops of the United States are deeply proud of the historic and continuing contribution of women religious - a pride that has been echoed by many in recent weeks."

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.

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.

–CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Vatican

soundoff (1,467 Responses)
  1. Reality

    The nun problem is minor compared to the following synopsis of Catholic history and doctrine:


    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • jj

      Your off the meds again aren't you? I can tell.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  2. yessica

    The Church should stand for purity and a true love for God. Saddly people think that their own ideas are the one's that God wants, but its not! The Pope is correct in trying to make sure the clergy and people who have dedicated themselves to the church do the right thing. They have one choice: accept the true teachings of the church or go their own separate ways. And that goes for everybody, the church needs people who truly love God, not themselves. You have to love God witht the help of faith, not by your intellect (or what you understand, saddly most people don't see it this way). The vatican is doing the right thing, its time to start cleaning the house for the coming of Jesus. Remember, Jesus is not coming until the church is PURE.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Barbara Bostic

      Where does it say that Jesus is not coming until the church is pure???

      June 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • jj

      I guess he ain't coming for awhile then eh?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  3. dowdotica

    you go girl!!! kick the pedafiles out of the vatican and let the nuns take over, then just maybe i might go to confession!lol

    June 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So you are willing to wait for everyone else to come to God before you decide?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  4. Constance Leigh Craven-Cox

    Catholicism is a joke.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. Recondo101

    How long did it take for your reporter to put together this "staged protest" of five people? CNN is famous around the world for creating protests, making news where no news is present.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  6. St. Mike

    Ignore the incompetent. Praise for the nuns!!!!!!!!!!! The bishops should be looking to their own about the perverts and pedophiles in their ranks!!!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Doc

    So the Nuns are pushing to hard to do what Jesus said to do, not what the Pope says we should do? I am usually with the Church on these matters, but that statement that they are "too focused on social justice" smacks or elitism and misalignment far too prevalent in the church at its worse points in history.

    This is a mess

    June 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  8. Lucifer

    Well, if you don't want to follow Catholic rules, then.......

    June 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Satan

      ....don't be a Catholic?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • sbp

      If you believe in the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible, why not follow that and dump the church infrastructure and hierarchy. That was put in place hundreds of years later. Even if you are a believer, you know that the RC Church is MAN made. And it's so corrupt at this point, why yield authority to THESE guys? The moral thing to do is follow the teachings, ignore the authority figures.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  9. Burbank

    Just walk away from the stupid church. Stop being a party to all the chauvinism!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  10. Brian

    "Pope Benedict XVI, a theologian by training, was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for decades "...........

    This used to be called the INQUISITION. It got such a bad image from torturing people to death that they had to change the name to "Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith."

    June 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • FraterT

      Did you look that up ALL BY YOURSELF, Brian???

      June 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |


    June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. BD

    Nuns act in rational, just, and modern manner. Papalcy sees it as a threat to the Church.

    If you still need further proof that the Church is growing further and further behind the times then I'm just not sure what to tell you.

    The only expanding this type of pruning will cause is an expansion into irrelevance.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Mel

    Every time I read comments on CNN's articles, I remember why I'm voting against Obama. CNN Liberals are hate-filled, atheist, jerks.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Drinky Crow

      And I suppose that you are an example of a love filled christian? Thanks, I'll keep my nonbelief, thank you very much. BTW, I'm not a liberal.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sbp

      But Rush and Sean are compassionate, understanding, love filled hippies? Go back and post on Fox. Oh, wait, you can't, they switched off comments because it was so hate filled.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • JustJ

      Hmm... I am a CNN liberal/socialist, not hate-filled, Christian, and not a jerk. You really shouldn't group everyone together like that.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • BD

      And Fox shut down their comment section because the Right are known for their magnanimity, courtesy, and penchant for civil discourse.

      Every cross-section of society has a similar distribution of people when it comes to their civility, CNN just has a lot of people thats all.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • MT

      Wow! Generalize much? So I gather you are a CNN Conservative, hate-filled, god-fearing jerk? In case no one else has told you, you drop IQ points every time you try and tie everything that is wrong in the world to Obama. Try and think it thru.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Doc

      I am not an atheist. I go to Mass every Sunday, and Holy Days. I believe in the mission of the Church, but I believe that mission involves NOT JUST fighting against abortion, euthanasia and THE DEATH PENALTY ( you never hear that one mentioned because it upsets the conservative donors to the church.) I believe the mission involves the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy, something I GUARANTEE they do more than anyone reading this blog. If trying to live the Semon on the Mount means I am pushing Social Justice... so be it.

      (in case you forgot:
      To feed the hungry;
      To give drink to the thirsty;
      To clothe the naked;
      To harbour the harbourless;
      To visit the sick;
      To ransom the captive;
      To bury the dead.

      To instruct the ignorant;
      To counsel the doubtful;
      To admonish sinners;
      To bear wrongs patiently;
      To forgive offences willingly;
      To comfort the afflicted;
      To pray for the living and the dead.)

      June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • sam

      So your informed opinion was determined by the BS that goes on in an internet forum? Do us all a favor and don't vote at all.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  14. St. Paul


    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Sam1111

    Ha...ha..Bill. Always had a job. Never been on welfare, but nice try. Maybe you're the angry one.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bill

      Lets laugh together!! ha ha ha ha ha ! Be good Bro!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  16. Reality

    The oblivion ball is rolling and no pope, nun, imam, rabbi or minister will be able to stop it:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • FraterT

      @Reality...do you just cut and paste this tripe wherever you find it? This exact quote appears all over the place on a simple Google search. Not nice to purloin...

      June 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Schrodinger's Cat

      Well, what if in a few years we get news that science has proved that there are worse things than time traveling happening at all times, and that there are 'observers' from parallel universes trying to 'reform' the time-line of History here in our 'reality', so as to fast track their own evolution and survival? What if there really is an 'Adjustment Bureau'? Then civility and good manners isn't going to help us survive. But the function of religion is the function of 're-ligare', to re-attach us to our source, so that we can't fall into slavery at the intellectual level.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  17. podunda

    I went to Catholic school. You don't mess with the Nuns !

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  18. GianCarlo

    It's laugable.......they tell the nuns to be more against gay marriage, yet they prance around in these really GAY attire. The Pope turns the other way when it comes to pedophile clergy. What is wrong with this picture. This Church is becoming irrelevant because of the the Pope speaks from one side of his mouth then speaks the opposite from the other side.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. Sam1111

    Are we really surprised that a bunch of old hunched over men are angry at some feminist women? You go girls!

    June 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Bill

    Sam, Guest and which god,
    Please go get a job so i don't have to support you with my tax dollars!! Sorry you are so angry at the world! It's lonely being hopeless! Maybe you can turn to God and you will see change in your sorry lives!

    June 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • sbp

      My income puts me squarely in the 1%, why on earth would you think YOU are supporting anyone? Ever see statistics on income and education broken down by religion? If I turn to Vishnu, does that count, or does it have to be YOUR God?

      June 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Drinky Crow

      Hey, look! Another smug christian.

      Before you lump me into your little generalizations, I have a job, and probably pay more in taxes than you do. I do volunteer work with the homeless, give to secular charities, etc. Funny, but not many of the volunteers at the shelter claim to be christians... I was also raised in a christian home, but it didn't take me long to realize what a pack of lies religion is, and to learn to think for myself. Since rejecting your silly little man in the sky, my life has definitely changed for the better.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      I think you should turn to God,, you obviously haven't. If you want to get to heaven the Bible say sell all you have, give the money to the poor, take up your bed and follow Christs. Do as your book says and you will have no further taxes to be paid. I might add that the Bible also says Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I suspect with you Christianity is a brand name rather than a belief.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • sam

      Bill, did you dig deep for that retort or did you learn it from one of your friends on the short bus? It's so witty.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
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.