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Vatican condemns "radical feminist" nuns
Nuns stroll through Saint Peter's Square as the sun sets on the Vatican. (Eric Gaillard / Reuters)
More than 4,300 miles away in Scranton, Pa., Sister Maryalice of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, could easily be confused for a bank manager or real-estate agent. She lives in an apartment with two roommates, drives a Prius, and can be seen at 8 o’clock mass wearing a cheery pink cotton blazer, dark skirt, and sensible shoes.
A look inside the lives of these two women—different in every way but stated profession and their shared commitment to the Catholic Church—shows just how divergent the business of being a nun has become in the 50 years since the second Vatican Council loosened the rules for religious women, and why that’s fueled an increasingly vocal backlash by the men who make the rules. This came to a head in April when the Vatican severely criticized the vast majority of American nuns in the form of an eight-page doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. An umbrella group of leaders from more than 400 progressive religious orders, the LCWR represents about 80 percent of the nation’s Catholic sisters. The nuns have been increasingly defiant, omitting the church’s teaching on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage, for example. But the final straw came earlier this year, when the group expressed support of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which includes the consideration of reproductive rights like birth control a health care right, calling it "a fair and helpful way to move forward.”
The Vatican responded by labeling the LCWR nuns "radical feminists" and accusing them of rabble-rousing by twisting the church doctrines and “not conforming to the faith and practice of the Church.”
In the U.S., where the number of religious sisters has dwindled from 179,954 to 57,544 in the past half century, the controversy cuts to the heart of what it means to be a nun. To many non-Catholics, nuns conjure up a vision of the ladies from The Sound of Music. To Catholics, they can be anything from the no-nonsense school teachers who rapped their knuckles during Catechism class to hospital workers who pray at the bedsides of the dying. They are the stuff of fantasies for others. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga parties allegedly featured dancers dressed as nuns who stripped down from their habits to G-strings. In certain corners of Italy, seeing a nun brings bad luck, and men touch iron—or often their crotch—when they pass one on the street.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/08/nuns-react-differently-to-vatic...
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