Guest / Limited Access /
Nuns Facing the Ruler: A Protestant Perspective on the Vatican Conflict with the Sisters
Photo by Getty Images
Nuns Facing the Ruler: A Protestant Perspective on the Vatican Conflict with the Sisters

The Vatican's effort to rein in American nuns achieved a new level of visibility over the last few weeks. On Monday, Stephen Colbert interviewed Sister Simone Campbell, director of Network—a Catholic social justice lobby. When asked about the church's recent censure, Campbell articulated the sisters' shared commitment to "the gospel," particularly "to live as Jesus did in relationship with people at the margins of our society." Colbert appeared to be impressed.

Shortly before that, the Catholic Theological Society of America defended Sister Margaret Farley, a Yale theologian whose book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics recently raised the Vatican's ire. The board defended Farley as a "highly respected member of the theological community," and said that it was "simply a matter of fact that faithful Catholics in every corner of the Church are raising ethical questions like those Professor Farley has addressed."

The Vatican's censuring of Farley's work follows its denunciation in April of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella group for female religious, representing most of the 57,000 nuns in the U.S. The LCWR, whom the Vatican described as "doctrinally problematic" for its alleged failure to uphold church teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage, rejected this critique defending the social justice work of its members as "the work of Jesus."

Meanwhile, leaders from seven Franciscan provinces in the U.S. expressed support for the LCWR by calling the Vatican's crackdown "excessive, given the evidence raised. … The efforts of LCWR to facilitate honest and faithful dialogue on critical issues of our times must not result in a level of ecclesial oversight that could, in effect, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current Issue
Subscriber Access Only Reply All
Responses to our December issue via letters, tweets, and Facebook posts.
Recommended‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
HBO's unsettling Vatican satire asks what happens when spiritual leaders shirk their own faith.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Nuns Facing the Ruler: A Protestant Perspective on the Vatican ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

June 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.