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Vatican intensifying crackdown on American nuns
The Vatican and the American Catholic Church have issued three reprimands of Catholic nuns since last year.
June 5th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Vatican intensifying crackdown on American nuns

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Vatican denies there's a connection, but its reprimand of an influential American nun, at a moment when the Holy See is already engaged in an intense fight with most American nuns, sends a clear message: The Catholic Church’s leaders think America’s nuns have gone rogue and must be reined in.

The Vatican on Monday censured Sister Margaret A. Farley, who teaches at Yale Divinity School, over a 2006 book she wrote that the church said is out of step with official church teaching on human sexuality.

Just weeks before, the Vatican issued a major report condemning the groups that represent most American nuns, saying those organizations had promoted “radical feminism” while neglecting teachings against homosexuality and abortion.

“The Vatican believes that there is a climate of dissent in some quarters of the women’s religious life in America,” said John Allen, CNN’s Vatican analyst. “They are trying to deal with that, and both these developments speak to that.”

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In its reprimand of Farley, the church focused on her book “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” which it said condones masturbation and homosexuality.

“Masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action,” the church said in a statement Monday that characterized “homosexual acts” as “acts of grave depravity.”

The reprimand warned church officials not to use Farley’s book, raising eyebrows in Catholic circles because she is one of the country’s most respected female Catholic theologians.

The Rev. Brian Linnane, a Jesuit priest and president of Loyola University Maryland, did his doctoral work in theology under Farley.  He said the notification could have a chilling effect on academic freedom at Catholic institutions.

“There’s a sense that the vocation of the theologian is diminished in this notification to where it’s just, ‘Keep repeating what we’ve already said and don’t question it, don’t critique it, don’t try to help us make it more adequate.’  And I think that’s troubling,” he said.

Linnane said people who read the book knew that Farley was departing from Catholic teaching in certain areas.  

“She did not write a book about sexual practices.  She wrote a new framework to think about sexual ethics, which looks at justice, instead of procreation or abstinence, which have been part of the tradition,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a question of right or wrong so much as I think it is of the ability to raise critical questions, to try and develop new understandings of the theological tradition and in this case of the moral tradition.”

Linnane said the Vatican is right to be sure that public ministers such as priests and nuns be on the same page doctrinally as the church leaders, and he noted the rebuke was specifically against the book, not the author.

“There’s no silencing of Sister Farley in the notification, there’s no threat to her membership in her religious community; it’s just about the book, which everyone agrees probably shouldn’t be taught in Catholic seminaries, certainly shouldn’t be taught in religious education classes for young persons. Everyone agrees it’s theological speculation,” he said.

The censure came days after the leadership that represents most American nuns concluded a meeting in Washington to devise a response to an April Vatican assessment that accused the nuns of hosting speakers who preached “radical feminism” at an annual gathering of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The group represents about 80% of American nuns.

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

The recent reprimands come about a year after U.S. Catholic bishops rebuked another nun, Sister Elizabeth Johnson at Fordham University, for her writings.

The bishops said that Johnson falsely claims the Catholic Church’s names are “metaphors that do not apply to the reality of God within the traditional Catholic understanding.”

“In the last 12 months you’ve seen two of America’s leading Catholic nuns who are theologians in the cross hairs,” Allen said. “I’m not sure there’s anyone left of their stature to go after.”

Many parts of the American nuns’ community and the Catholic academic world have come out swinging against the Vatican critiques. In a statement, Farley defended her work, saying it was not meant as an official church teaching.

Farley said she feared the Vatican “misrepresents (perhaps unwittingly) the aims of my work and the nature of it as a proposal that might be in service of, not against, the church and its faithful people.”

On Friday, the leaders of the American nuns whom the Vatican had criticized said the Holy See’s report was “based on unsubstantiated accusations and (was) the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency” and that the report had “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community.”

Representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious are flying to Rome this week to try to chart a course forward with Vatican officials. Church experts said that the nuns could accept the assessment, negotiate or resign en masse and form a new group outside the watchful eye of the Vatican.

The reprimands originate from the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI led for decades before his elevation to the papacy.

In interviews conducted while he held that earlier post, Benedict spoke often about growing the church by pruning - becoming smaller but more devout before expanding.

It is hard to know what the reaction to the fight between American nuns and the Vatican is within the American Catholic community, but there have been some pockets of protest against the Vatican’s actions.

“It’s one thing when the Vatican goes after a theologian, because most rank-and-file Catholics don’t know any theologians,” Allen said. “But so many have been educated by sisters in a school, taken care of by a sister at a hospital or know a nun in their parish that is running the office."

He added, “When there’s a perception that sisters are under fire, there’s a tendency to support them.”

There is evidence that the reprimand against Farley has raised her profile as a theologian. Her "Just Love" was the best-selling religious studies book Tuesday on Amazon.com.

- CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sexuality

soundoff (2,186 Responses)
  1. John

    Bottom line on the issue with the Nuns is that abortions are one the most common medical procedures on earth and kill millions of babies every year. Seeing an abortion ultrasound is one of the most disgusting things imaginable... the baby squirms to get away before it gets sucked into a vacuum... This is murder and the church needs Nuns (Women) talking to Women about woman issues, and not ignoring the problem while they fiddle around with food drives... That is why the Nuns are in trouble with the Vatican.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Bayousara

      John, I hate to tell you this, but abortions typically include medication beforehand that pretty much kills the baby before it is "sucked" out with a vacuum. And a baby in the womb doesn't have room to pull away from that vac. Now, why don't you mind your own business? You don't have a clue what being pregnant is like. Why don't you dedicate your life to making sure fathers are known and provide child support to their little babies.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Hmmmmm.....and I always thought that feeding the hungry was one of the corporal works of mercy. What a shame that it has become so unimportant to the hierarchy. Also, contraception, which is considered intrinsically evil by the church magisterium has been shown to decrease ovarian cancer in women....particularly celibate women. Thank God we have nuns doing the corporal works of mercy and other nuns entering into theological discussions based on our current scientific knowledge.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      You appear to be accusing nuns of a sin of omission: it's not what they've done, but what hey haven't done that a bunch of old men think they ought to do. Even the really devout ladies I know in the Lrgion of Mary have trouble stomaching this logic.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • oneofakind

      BOTTOM LINE IS...No one has the right to tell any woman what she MUST do to her body. Men don't put their life on the line in a case of severe medical pregnancies, nor do many stick around long enough to help in the cost of raising a baby. Where are they when a women suffers sever depression. Men especially need to keep their noses out of a womans choices.

      June 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  2. Prophet

    Hey POOP! God called and wants his reparations paid in gold! and leave those HisDamn nuns alone you old FART!

    June 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  3. JMontes

    "she is one of the country’s most respected female Catholic theologians"
    -By whom? Those who approve of lifestyles antagonistic to what the Holy Bible condemns? I'm sure that's what it's about. Why live or call oneself a nun or a catholic if one is living a life contrary to it's teaching. The solution is simple. Leave the Church and join a group that supports that way of life and thinking...

    June 5, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Or is the reverse true.....just because she disagrees with you, she is not a respected theologian. If God is alive, so is his revelation.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Cielo

      She is probably supported by people who actually LIVE in the community where there are real gay people, where real people masterbate and where real people practice birth control. She is not like the ivory-towered hermits who do NOT live in the real world and yet can condemn everything in it that doesn't fit into a tight little box. This is the beginning of the end for the Roman Catholic church in America. I see a schism approaching where there will be an American Catholic Church, equal to Rome or the Russian Orthodix Church, or Coptics, or any number of other Catholic groups.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • JMontes

      the wording from the quote implies that because she's respected she must be right, or at least, her views are to be taken into consideration to the the prevailing Catholic position (notice a lack of condescending replies or ad hominem attacks). However, as it has always been the case in Catholic and Christian moral controversies, neither the majority rule nor a well reasoned argument (even with scientific or social studies claims included) have the final word. The final word is Holy Scripture as properly understand by those appointed to declare it's teachings supported by history and tradition. I would add that I'm sorry but no amount of civil suits or popular referendums will change natural moral common sense.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      A lot of us in the Church happen to support this lady. Maybe you're the odd person out. Ever think of that?

      June 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Re: Cielo, see this is the problem with CNN sensationalizing this story. This is not bringing down the church. Most nuns agree with the Vatican's position on abortion, gay marriage, birth control, etc. Most understand the basis of church doctrine and the authority of the magisterium. 100% of them are Catholic.

      June 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • JMontes

      Not necessarily as you put it or imply. The logical end of your claims to ongoing revelation would end up rewriting Scripture or reinterpret it at best wholly different perhaps contrary to it's time honored meaning. The rule of thumb has always been that the prevailing meaning, within it's grammatical and historical context, is the right interpretation. In this sense, revelation remains within the confines of Scripture not independently of it.

      June 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  4. Maureen Coulter

    This whole business of picking on American Nuns is just a ploy to move our attention from what pedophiles priests really are. It has no merit. I'm tired of the "Old Male" domination of women in the Catholic church which is why I dropped out 46 years ago. I don't need an old man who fanaticizes that he communicates with god to tell me what is right or wrong. Especially if that old man supports the pedophiles within his community. Maybe, he supports because he has been there and been one.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Maureen, if you believe in Jesus why do you allow the actions of a pedophile to keep you from Him?

      June 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Cielo

      LOL! Maureen doesn't need a pedophile priest or ANY priest at all to find her spirituality! The men of the RCC have had that monopoly for so long that they refuse to realize that people will no longer go to them for they are not needed, and indeed never were.

      June 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Cielo, it's sort of a rhetorical question. If Maureen believes in God and believes in the holy Catholic church she wouldn't allow the sins of a few priests to keep her from Him.

      When you mention finding spirituality is this a way of avoiding mentioning God? Does spirituality not include God? Is God irrelevant according to your concept of spirituality?

      Do you not think that God exists or that he loves us?

      June 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • oneofakind

      No one can be kept away from Jesus...You criticize without even knowing her intentions. You don't have to listen to an old fart preach, or be in an church to believe. Thats where many of you religious nuts get it wrong.

      June 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  5. mfx3

    Funny that the church engages in a lie just to flex its muscle. How hypocritical.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  6. O.S. Bird

    The Nuns have what amounts to a union. Not being a union fan myself, I think it hilarious that the pope has to deal with one!

    June 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • John

      That's funny... I hadn't thought of it that way.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  7. snowdogg

    The Catholics are not much further along than Muslims... a thousand years behind what's happening now.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      Stereotyping is such a wonderful way of blindng ourselves to the facts.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Jon

      Abbeystone, generally I would agree with you. However, Catholicism is a set of firm beliefs. All Catholics must believe the same thing, otherwise they would not be Catholics. It is in such a case that stereotyping is actually factual. When one compares them to Muslims however, we run into a falsehood. Being Mulism is like being Christian. There are different interpretations (beliefs) of Muslim values and the Qu'ran just as there are different interpretations (beliefs) of Christian values and the Bible.

      So you are both wrong.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • jroja

      I disagree, we dont necessarily believe in the same thing, while the fundamentals remain the same, our priorities and theology considerably differ.

      ~A Byzantine Catholic

      June 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Rooster Cogburn

      Only 1.1 billion roman Catholics worldwide, I guess we are all lost in the abyss... Bonehead!

      June 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  8. DJ Reality

    Why couldn't they crack down on child abusing priests? But, I guess that is not as important.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      The nuns look like a rebellious group. Pedophiles are just individual dinners. The church can forgive one but maybe not the other. I'll let you guess which.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      So the church hasn't condemned pedophilia among priests? Seriously? Is this really what you think or just a convenient lie to suit your worldview?

      June 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  9. bill

    Catholic church is breaking down period.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      Not in our lifetime it isn't. Things always seem to lurch from one mess to another, but no actual collapses.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • John

      Many Catholic churches are booming, we have large classes of converts and enrollment in seminary across the country is at the highest it's been years. The priest abuses were a wakeup call to a lack of discipline, and they're getting the religious back in line... Some people like it and some don’t, but the church isn’t going anywhere and is growing strong.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • it is

      YAAY CHURCH!

      June 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Cielo

      John~ I beg to differ. Billboards are up all over the place begging for men to join the priesthood. The average age for priests and nuns is declining because so few young people want to join. Many people are discovering that you don't NEED some old man in another country telling you how to pray to God; you can do that yourself. I can only hope I live to see the day the Roman Catholic Church goes the way of the Cults of Apollo; that is, into history and mythology.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • John

      Cielo – Nun enrollment is down... that is true... but Priest are moving up, and that is fact. I suggestion you lookup more recent information... like reports from the last 8-12 months.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "I suggestion you lookup more recent information... like reports from the last 8-12 months."

      I suggestion you take an English class.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  10. Phil

    They cover up the pedophiles and go after the nuns, and these people pretend to be a moral authority. They spend millions in legal costs defending themselves against lawsuits as a result of their protecting their criminal priests and cardinals. They are liars, thieves, utterly guilty of criminal behavior and they go after the "radical feminist" nuns. Absolutely amazing. WWJD with the Vatican? Maybe he is using them as an object lesson, certainly the Vatican has proven itself as filthy a political machine as any. They will not stand, that kind of slime always eventually gets flushed.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Deb Browell

      clap.....clap.....clap.....clap....clap....clap.....clap....

      June 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      Maybe both God and the Republicans are at war with women?

      June 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Assuming of course that an accused priest is guilty. I wonder if it is difficult to find an unbiased jury for a Catholic priest. How many people are like Phil and hate priests because they are priests?

      Phil agrees with the Queen of Hearts "Sentence first, verdict after!"

      June 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  11. martin

    how can anyone not be deeply embarassed and ashamed to call themselves a catholic, for a myriad of reasons.

    June 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Beadles

      Let me know if you ever get the answer. I don't understand how presumably intelligent people remain in the RCC, thereby supporting/condoning its actions.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • John

      Becaue you would have to be insane not to be a Catholic. It is the only religion on the planet, where you can get on a plane or drive to a dozen or more miracles that defy science and are exclusively Catholic. Bernadette, Lourdes, Guadalupe, Lanciano and Padre Pio to name a few then you have Fatimah witnessed by nearly 100,000 people, and people the Catholics that get the Stigmata are amazing too.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Baycap

      John, so the majority of people in the world are insane? Glass houses, pal.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • John

      Baycap... There is a reason for the idom " busy as hell"

      June 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Cielo

      John~ you are SO woefully ignorant of the world!! Nearly every religion on the planet boasts miracles from their "gods"! Lourdes was a place of miraculous healing in pagan times WAY before the Catholic Church stole the site and made it a "Catholic" holy shrine! Bernadette was a GODDESS of the area who was also "converted." Our lady of Guadalupe shrine is on an ancient Aztec goddess temple. John, tell us: YOU are a priest and that is why you defend the indefensible on this site? The RCC is corrupt and worthy of destruction. It's time is drawing near.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  12. Gay Brewer

    According to the Christianity time-line, this whole issue sounds like a re-run of the Inquisition c. 1232 (first six years of Pope Gregory IX)! Absolutely appalling in today's world!

    June 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • banko

      Yes, pedophiles in the church are appalling.

      As a Catholic man, I would rather see nuns perform mass, rather than risk pedophiles raping young innocent boys

      June 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  13. Bill Ball

    The way and only way to God is through Jesus..........not a priest,bishop,cardinal or pope............when Jesus returns, he will go to Jerusalem, not Rome. The Vatican is more plastic than the Royal Family............no offense to the Royal Family

    June 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • John

      John 20 – This is when priest got the power to forgive sins in confession
      And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained

      Mathew 16 – When the church and Pope got their authority
      And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      there is a lot more where that came from.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Larry Moniz

      I was raised catholic, but as a journalist, author and publisher, I have to consider the New Testament a work of fiction. In an era when there weren't even newspapers to record history, some parts, including the Epistles, were written many decades after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. While historians concede he lived, there is NO verifiable proof he was the son of God.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • John

      Larry,
      1. Decades, or 10s of years, isn't a long time. The gospels were written by people that witnessed Christ or by people that spoke to people that witnessed Christ.
      2. Pontius Pilat wrote a letter to Caesar fearful of the deed being performed by Jesus.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • oneofakind

      John those are the words of man trying to bulls*it the rest of us

      June 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  14. John

    Gads!! I just noticed there was an Atheist commenter named John on about hour ago; we should be easy to distinguish

    June 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • oneofakind

      ...SO WHAT ! An Atheist has the right to express themselves, your nothing special, ya know

      June 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  15. Keith

    The Nuns will take a stand and continue their important work even if they have to resign and start over. Farley is a more qualified Theologian than the Pope. Read her book.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • John

      I'm betting you haven't read any of the Pope's books

      June 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
      • Keith

        You are right, but I didn't like him before he became pope. I'm hoping he dies soon.

        I know I am a bad Catholic, but that is what I think.

        June 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  16. former catholic

    No surprises from the Holy See here. Masturbation is against the rules, but pedophile priests are protected by the church. Ever wonder why people leave the Catholic church?

    June 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  17. ohforgodssake

    American nuns are evolving . . . the Catholic church is not!

    June 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      LOL – are you sure they are evolving or are they flip-flopping?

      June 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      The nuns are flipping, the pope and priests are flopping.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • oneofakind

      their evolving Mr Blackdder, importunately your aren't. You will always be intimidated by woman.

      June 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  18. Mike Blackadder

    It isn't controversial what the church's position is supposed to be with regard to abortions, euthanasia and same-se-x marriage.

    In my opinion these are the most difficult topics for Catholics to defend (even more so than pedophilia among priests).

    The easy thing is to just go along with modern standards of morality. That doesn't make them right.

    I think that it is okay and it is normal for nuns to have opinions that differ at times from the church, just like any other Catholics. They shouldn't take their personal opinions that differ from the church and present them as though they carry authority of the church. Even the Pope does not have freedom to do this.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Abbeystone

      You refer to the nuns as though they are distinct from "the church." Ehat you mean, I think, is that a large group of women are in disagreement with a very small group of men which, furthermore, seems determined to get its way since it's done so for many, many years. That small group of men is not the body of the Church, and it is presumptive to treat it as though it were.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      "even more so than pedophilia" ????? Nothing is more important than priestly pedophilia, unless the church is determined to commit suicide.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • BADGUY

      The Nuns have very little "leverage" to oppose the Vatican. Their lives have been "set" in the Catholic Mode. It should be the job of the Catholic laity to protest these actions. If necessary they should curtail financial support to the Church and if things don't change, they should leave the Church.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Keith

      The nuns are going to resign, their leadership have already said that they will not comply with the increased supervision and change of direction.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • QuiGon Bong

      But he does have the power to cover up pedophilia within his own organization. You, just like the church, are becoming more and more insignificant as the human race SLOWLY realizes what BS you're all about. Buh-bye!

      June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, then, step up, Keef. I'll bet you'd look adorable in a habit and wimple.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      No Abbeystone you don't understand. For the Church to change its position with regard to these topics it would have to be on theological grounds. Otherwise the Pope and the bishops don't have authority to change the rules.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Ummmm....Mike.....I believe the nun that they are censoring is a theologian who is presenting an opinion based on theological reasoning. The fact is that many people have been censored in the past.....Galileo, for example......but time has shown them to be correct. The hierarchy is always slower than the faithful to see the truth. The hierarchy has generally been the greatest source of embarrassment to Catholicism throughout history. This generation will be no different.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • David Smithson

      Mr. Blackadder says: "The easy thing is to just go along with modern standards of morality. That doesn't make them right." Why is the timeline so important??? Just because it was written a long time ago... does that make it right? Think of what historians say was really going on at the time your scriptures were written???? I think it's easy to just stick to what the book says.... the hard thing is to get people like Mr. Blackadder to know that HE is NOW. And our responsibility is to move it forward. EVERYTHING changes... weather you want it to or not. Morality is if you pinch yourself and feel pain... I don't want my neighbor to feel pain... so I won't pinch him. and so on. I think that makes more sense then using some words in a book supposedly written thousands of years ago and try to apply it to life today. That's what is wrong with this world. Wake up!

      June 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      sqeptiq

      It isn't as difficult for a Catholic to discuss priests and pedophilia. Catholics believe that human beings sin. Priests are not immune to sin. The effects of pedophilia is general mistrust of the priesthood, people leaving the church in droves, fewer enrollments in the priesthood. This should not be a surprise for Catholics. This vindicates the doctrine of the church with regard to sin. The same can be said about Martin Luther and Protestantism.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Dorothy: "The reprimand warned church officials not to use Farley’s book"

      You see, it is exactly like I said. They warn church officials not to take her 'personal views' as church doctrine.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      David, it doesn't matter that it was written a long time ago.

      The magisterium has to consider the revelation of Christ in its entirety. In order to change course, they need to show why what they thought before was wrong and what new revelation or knowledge (including scientific knowledge) support
      S a change. This very conservative approach to doctrine explains why it takes so long for the church to change, it also explains why the values of the church do not change with the seasons.

      June 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • oneofakind

      oh so the nuns are suppose to fake it? Unfortunately you must have had to many women faking it for you. Time to check out the little buddy there.

      June 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  19. thetruth

    As yourself one question: Does the author or his employer side with the position of Sr. Farley, with the vatican, or are they neutral on the isuue? That is all you need to know to determine whether or not it is fairly written. In fact, ask yourself that on any article written about the Catholic Church before you let it shape your thinking.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Seems very neutral to me. As a matter of fact I was directed to the article by a very conservative friend who said, "read the article in CNN on how bad the American nuns are." On the other hand, I read it and had the opposite reaction. I guess it depends on your personal bias.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Funny joke Dorothy.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • John

      You are exactly right. The lack of intellect that CNN allows in its coverage of the Catholic Church is so lacking and so divorced from balance and fairness that it is beyond comprehension. How about listing the vows they take and the words of their founders... There is "freedom" in obedience.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • thetruth

      Fair question, Dorothy.

      Here are a few examples:

      "The reprimand warned church officials not to use Farley’s book, raising eyebrows in Catholic circles because she is one of the country’s most respected female Catholic theologians."
      –this makes it sound like Catholics in general seriosly doubt the Vatican's actions. This is certainly not the case for Orthodox (read true) Catholics. We applaud these actions and breathe a sigh of relief that the teaching of the chruch is being defended. During the last 50 years there are many "respected theologians" who have desented with church teaching, but they do not represent the teaching of the Catholic Church.

      "It is hard to know what the reaction to the fight between American nuns and the Vatican is within the American Catholic community, but there have been some pockets of protest against the Vatican’s actions."
      –If it is so hard to know, then why put the statement that there has been "some pockets of protest"? Where is the balanced statement form oerthodox catholics who appplaud the actions of the Vatican? I know many people who are relieved that the teaching of the church is being defended. They are reporters after all – do the ground work and find out. To say it is hard to know but then to state that there is protest is not even-handed.

      There is more (check out how the article begins for another example), but I will stop here so the post isn't too long.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  20. sportreform

    Nuns = silent witnesses to ped crimes.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:25 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.