Nuns brace for Vatican meeting
Sister Vickey Haran, who works with the poor in the Los Angeles area, says Rome should "look at itself first."
June 8th, 2012
01:05 PM ET

Nuns brace for Vatican meeting

By Jim Roope, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - The leadership of America's largest group of Catholic nuns will head to the Vatican on Tuesday to address accusations that it strayed from church doctrine.

“I don’t know why Rome is not happy,” said Sister Vickey Haran, a nun from the Los Angeles area.  “All of our energies have gone into making ourselves better so that we can serve the poor people of God."

Originally from Sligo, Ireland, Haran has been a nun for 50 years in the Holy Faith religious order, and she's been in the United States since 1967. She said she is heartbroken and angry about the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment that the leadership group representing most American nuns has been challenging the church’s doctrine on homosexuality, the male-only priesthood, artificial birth control, celibacy and abortion.

An April report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's watchdog on doctrine, said the largest umbrella group of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had allowed "radical feminism" to be espoused at their conferences unchecked. The group represents about 80% of American nuns.

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“I think that Rome has to look at itself first,” said Haran, who will not be heading to the Vatican next week. “You know, clean up your own house first because it’s under tremendous strain and stress; it must be, with all of the allegations and everything that has gone on in the past.”

She said the Vatican is emphasizing what nuns don’t do rather than all the good the sisters do.

The doctrinal assessment praised the sisters' work on social justice issues but said they were not doing enough on abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

The Vatican report was also critical of the nuns because of their support for the Affordable Care Act, which will require private health plans to cover artificial birth control, the use of which is against Catholic teaching. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly opposes that mandate.

But Haran said she's sees a difference in the letter of the law and the spirit of it.

“If a poor woman comes to my door in the morning, I can’t start telling her, 'Well, Rome says this.' That’s not what they want to hear,” Haran said.

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The Rev. Richard Albarano of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Burbank, California, said that given the sex-abuse scandal and the recent accusations against the nuns, the Vatican risks becoming "distasteful to the people of God.”

“The Vatican is not the church,” Albarano said. “It is part of the church. And the Vatican is made up of our brothers, mostly, and a few sisters, who are supposed to be one with all of us in the church."

Haran said faithfulness lies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Leaders in the church come and go, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always there,” Haran said. “We base all what we do on the gospel values. You know, Jesus turned nobody away.”

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Cardinal William Levada, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in a statement last month that the purpose of the doctrinal assessment was "aimed at fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities."

Levada, an American who was formerly the archbishop of San Francisco, called the face-to-face meeting in Rome critical. "Such a personal encounter allows for the opportunity to review the document together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration, hopefully thereby avoiding possible misunderstandings of the document’s intent and scope," Levada's statement said.

"As the issues evidenced in the doctrinal assessment involve essential questions of faith, the Holy Father has given the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a special mandate to collaborate with the (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) in a renewal of their work through a concentrated reflection on the doctrinal foundations of that work."

Haran said she is praying the Vatican realizes the sisters are doing both the work of the church and of God.

Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast about the issue:

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. BriSoFla

    FACT: Clergy molest children.

    FACT: Clergy covers up their per-verts and diverts attentions by blaming gay people.

    FACT: Clergy are fas-cists and unamerican because they want to take away our freedoms and control us.

    FACT: Gay people just want equality and the freedom to live their lives like everyone else.


    June 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  2. BriSoFla

    FACT: Clergy molest children.
    FACT: Clergy covers up their per-verts and diverts attentions by blaming gay people.
    FACT: Clergy are fas-cists and unamerican because they want to take away our freedoms and control us.

    FACT: Gay people just want equality and the freedom to live their lives like everyone else.


    June 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  3. BriSoFla

    FACT: Clergy molest children.
    FACT: Clergy covers up their per-verts and diverts attentions by blaming gay people.
    FACT: Clergy are fas-cists and unamerican because they want to take away our freedoms and control us.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  4. juanito

    “If a poor woman comes to my door in the morning, I can’t start telling her, 'Well, Rome says this.' That’s not what they want to hear,” Haran said.
    Ever hear the old saying, "sometimes the truth hurts?"

    June 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  5. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Solving the issues in less than 100 words. This is so easy one wonders why it took so long: (from a PowerPoint slide)




    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.)

    Added details upon request.

    June 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • gerald

      I'll bet you think there are no absolutes either. Are you absolutely sure of that? No truth. Is that true?

      June 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  6. Kindness

    For you.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    June 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    June 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • gerald

      A little out of the box thinking for you. Catholicism traces back to Christ and the apostles. It is the fullness of the truth.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  7. Bootyfunk

    keep on bashing women, vatican. good job. and you wonder why the pews are empty on sundays...

    June 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • AGuest9

      They haven't noticed. They are still busy chasing little boys.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • gerald

      pews haven't been empty anywhere I have gone in the last 5 years. Not by a long shot.

      June 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  8. BFG

    As a non-believer I probably have no right to comment on the matter, but for what it's worth to the Sisters you absolutely have my support – you are doing and have been doing exactly the right thing by exercising a social conscience. It is the patriarchy that is out of step, not you.

    June 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      BFG, At first blush one would think supporting the nuns to be a no brainer. But i suspect what the Vatican will point out is that in order for true social justice to ensue, certain immutable articles must be in place. The first I think would be the right to life. How can there be social justice without the right to life? What I can see is that the nuns have been in the street fighting the good fight for so long that they have lost sight of the bigger picture. They are to be commended for their devotion. However, the Vatican would be remiss if they did not point out that they have gotten the cart in front of the horse. Hopefully this helps

      June 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    June 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • JFritz

      Y'all need to put down that koolaid.

      June 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Might change the way you feel; doesn't change reality.

      June 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • nope


      June 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  10. Dave Dawson

    Did I once ever let pride get in my way?
    Then you know where I'm coming from.

    June 9, 2012 at 7:08 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.