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. LouAz

    No wonder so many catholics are cornfused . . . some of the nuns are now wearing pants . . . and the pedopriests are still wearing dresses and lace and GOLD !

    June 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Franky


      June 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  2. CalmDog

    It's not pedophile priests that are the problem. It's the cover-up at the top. Pedophilia is a psychological problem. Hiding child abuse is a crime. Sacrificing the children to preserve the "good" name of the church is flat-out evil.
    It seems that the Pope wants these nuns to ignore the positive things they're doing so that they have enough time to concentrate on the negative things he wants to promote. So glad Catholicism is in my distant past.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Thomas NotAquinas

      You did read that abuse victims were sent to psychiatric wards and castrated in Holland in the 1950s as reprisal for saying they had been molested.

      Catholic psychiatric wards? The whole freaking religion is a psych ward!

      June 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Dirty Frank

      Amen......praise the lord. How someone can give any alegiance to the catholic church floors me.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  3. DCBill

    I hope the nuns leave the Church, enmasse, and suggest that the guys who remain do all of the hard and often grunt work which the nuns have done for generations.

    I am sure that there are other Christian faiths that would love to have them as active church participants.

    Let's see how the Pope and his boy posse enjoy them apples?

    June 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Pollywog22

    So the nuns have a union? They call it something else, but it sure sounds like a union to me. Good for them – somebody needs to stand up to the chauvanist pigs that are running the church. Those are the men that turned me away from the church many years ago – and I'll never go back.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • ComSenseWiz

      The nuns need to bolt the Church of Pedophiles and get a grip on reality rather than the delusional myths of religion.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  5. The Pope's Secret Army of Exploding Bunny Rabbits!


    Rogue nuns. That's flipping hilarious!

    "Too focused on social justice and not enough on opposing abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage." Oh those naughty rogue nuns, too busy doing something positive like social justice and not doing enough negative stuff like opposing. They are becomong a "negative influence" but not being negative enough.

    Religion: The less you think about it, the more sense it makes.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  6. Pruitt Emerson

    I'm a former RC who finally came to the realization years ago that the Catholic church went off the tracks many decades ago. These nuns if they have any smarts will break away from Rome and the Pope. The Vatican which is run by a bunch of good old boys club and females will never be treated equal much like the Muslims Sharia law.

    Wake up Sisters, smell the coffee....nothing will ever change with that gang. Your energy and goodness can be applied while there is Vatican. Tie your can to other well meaning organizations that can mean a difference and your gender will never be an issue.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  7. Frank

    Most American men are already painfully aware of what a pain in the ass American women are, be they nuns or otherwise.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Franky

      LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you just tell them welcome to the club. If The church had integrated women folk into their folds sooner, they would have discovered this fact long ago.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • The Riddler

      All of the people who know frank realize what a total dumbshit he is. They all secretly are happy that his wives all took him to the cleaners in his many divorces.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Pollywog22

      Then those men should all get blow up dolls – and do their own cooking, cleaning, etc. Or look to other men for their needs. Then they wouldn't have to be bothered with women.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • LouAz

      Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the decency to write and thank her ~ WC Fields

      June 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Franky

      Woh,woh, are you saying American women cook and clean. Only thing I've ever seen them do is shop. In fact, I think they are allergic to kitchens and a pale of soap and water. And sleeping with me is not an incentive I could just pay for it, it's cheaper, probably make me a sandwich, and always be 24.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Franky

      Lady Nancy Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."

      Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.”

      June 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • DonInLA

      Oh, and I can't even begn to measure the level of pride your mother must have in you. Have you ever even stopped to think what a collosal pain in the ass you have been to her?

      June 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • LJ

      Kind of how the male Priests were a pain in the ass to the Church when they molested young boys?

      June 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  8. Rose

    Take a group of men; separate them from the integration into society, but give them almost unlimited and secret powers. Give them unthinkable wealth and absolute control within their ranks. Understand that that group of men have, for hundreds of years, thought themselves above the law ... and you have a fertile breeding ground for greed, abuse, and corruption.

    No wonder the religious hierarchy hid child abuse. No wonder they fight progress and change so hard.

    The Roman Catholic church will have to change or eventually become a fringe sect.

    Good job, nuns, for standing up to your terrified and angry male leadership. You can try logic and compassion with your male leadership, but expect harsh retaliation. Your male leadership will not accept a change in their power structure without a brutal fight.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Franky

      They had child abuse because they had no women folk. I don't remember the part in the bible that said thou shall have no women folk. Jesus had Mary, no, yes ....

      June 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ray

      This is an excellent description of the Republican Party. You go girl!

      June 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  9. Franky

    Bring me the head of John the Non-Baptist

    – Oscar Not So Wilde

    June 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  10. Exprotestant

    What ignorant statements and hyperbole. One billion Roman Catholics in the world and a handful of pedophiles make all Catholic priests pedophiles? I believe that the ratio is markedly lower than the general population. Grow up people.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • LouAz

      Spoken like a TRUE APOLOGIST.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      1 billion catholics believing in a non-existant god and the jesus myth means they are all wrong.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • holly

      Thank you! All the time you hear of teachers and couches molesting kids? are all teachers and couches now pedophiles? Many get away with it.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Pollywog22

      I bet your views would change if it was your child that was molested

      June 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Dirty Frank

      Assuming that the ratio is same or less (which I doubt) the Catholic Church(up to the the Pope's level) has actively protected these pedophiles to protect the church and thrown the poor kids overboard. Thats fhe f#k3d up part.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • derp

      "couches molesting kids? are all teachers and couches"

      I sleep on my couch all the time. It has never molested me.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  11. John the non Baptist

    Once more Nuns are in charge the sooner our young boys will stop being molested.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Franky

      Well, atleast being molested and complaining about it.

      June 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  12. Ken

    The Catholic Church is a religious joke.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Franky

      That my friend is an oxy-moron,

      Is there any religion that isn't a joke?

      June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Hypatia

    *snickering madly* Yeah, they'll blame the nuns for being scandalous while raping altar boys. That's not a double standard, that's freakin' hilarious hypocrisy of the first water. Congrats, Vatican. How's that sueing America going for ya? Think you'll win that one? Maybe not and maybe you'll lose your tax exemption in the process.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  14. Berman

    You can tell a lot about the Church by the fact that they are upset the nuns are too focused on helping needy people and not focused enough on gay bashing.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Loretta

    Dear WASP, please note: Since you are so bored, you might consider googling before you comment. The Pope is the head the Catholic Church , the offices of which are located in the Vatican City in Italy. It is of huge importance and interest that American nuns are speaking out. We ALL need to come out swing against the Pope. The world is overpopulated and worldwide famine looms large, yet he continues to forbid the use of birth control. Since virtually all of South America and Mexico practices catholicism, the population continues to explode. These are vital issues to all of us. Don't be ignorant. READ.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Franky

      What do south americans and mexicans have to do with overpopuation? Last time I checked the largest population of humans are in Asia and by a large margin.

      June 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Tim

    It seems as if the Vatican is promoting a Radical Muslim approach to women, where women have few rights and are viewed as property. The Pope needs to remember that GOD loves and respects men and women EQUALLY, and so should the Pope. The Catholic Church's cover-up of the Child Abuse cases and now their anti-Nun bias, makes me appreciate leaving the Catholic Church to become a Luthern.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  17. Truth4God

    Perhaps having a greedy pedophile who worships only power and Satan leading your religon was a bad idea ?, .....just askin....

    June 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Padraig

      You are truly mindless numpty.

      June 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  18. Franky

    Wow, Ironic that the church takes a stronger stance against feminism than raping little boys. And my mom wonders why I told her that the catholic church is non-sense at 11 and I'm leaving sunday school.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  19. svann

    The catholic church has grown way beyond what was ordained by Jesus.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • isolate

      Jesus never intended to set up a separate religion, and would not recognize the one that was created by Saul of Tarsus/St Paul in his name. He wanted to return Judaism to its roots of personal, private worship and end the influence of the Temple Cult and the ultra-conservative Pharisees, whom he despised. And he always sided with women against the Pharisees, who were more concerned with the letter of the law than its spirit, and cared nothing about the poor and needy. Sort of like the modern Vatican– wealthy beyond counting, in direct contradiction to Jesus' principles that the rich cannot enter Heaven, yet setting arduous rules for the poor and needy.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • travelinpants

      It was never ordained by jesus!!!

      June 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  20. Zeus

    This is hilarious. It's like fighting over Dungeons and Dragons and gets to be Dungeon Master. Go out a do something good and stop worrying about your damn boss.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Religion is merely the world' largest fantasy role playing game, with heavy emphasis on fantasty...

      June 1, 2012 at 12:54 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.