So, uh, have you heard that the Catholic Church is working up a "crackdown" on nuns? Of course you have, as time and again the media have been repeating the charge. Well, today Sally Quinn, the agnostic editor of the Washington Post's On Faith feature, joined in the fun with her April 24 screed about "A Catholic 'war on women.'"
From start to finish, Sister Sally poured forth bilious attacks on the Catholic Church. Here's how she opened her screed:
Jesus would be rolling over in his grave if he hadn’t already left it. The pope is taking on the nuns.
I suppose the silver lining is that Sally believes in the resurrection of Christ, at least for the purposes of this rant. She continued:
The Roman Catholic Church is a hierarchical institution if there ever was one. Nobody does anything without consulting a superior. Eventually, that would lead to His Holiness. And this time he has gone too far.
When Vatican bishops issued a report condemning nuns, including those among the 55,000 members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, for “radical feminism” and ordered disciplinary action, all hell broke loose.
This must be heartbreaking for the many great priests and nuns and good Catholics everywhere to watch. I think of someone like Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met.
What were the crimes of these devout ladies? Well, they supported the White House over health care reform, lining up against the bishops. Big mistake. Then they had the audacity to compromise with President Obama on the issue of birth control mandates in employers’ health-care programs. Finally, they have not been outspoken enough on gay marriage and abortion.
What have these silly, recalcitrant women been doing with themselves? Burning bras? Marching in the streets? No. They have been ministering to the poor, the sick, the young and helpless, “the least of these,” as Jesus Christ so mercifully put it.
Of course, the Vatican document itself praises nuns for their selfless work of charity and mercy. But it is patently ludicrous to suggest, as Quinn does, that the Church is being antithetical to Christ for having a concern for doctrine and expecting nuns to accord to Church teaching at the same time that they devote themselves to good works.
Any cursory review of New Testament literature shows both Jesus and His apostles were keenly concerned with discernment of truth from error and for adherence to sound doctrine, not simply with moral living or the performance of good and charitable deeds.
But Quinn, a non-Catholic, dares to weigh in and bluster that "With this assault on nuns, the Catholic Church is moving farther from the teachings of Jesus, which has been for centuries, the greatest criticism of the church."
To Catholics, the bishops in general are successors of the apostles and the Pope is seen as the successor of St. Peter. They are entrusted with guarding the church's doctrine and disciplining errors and deviations therefrom. What's more, the Catholic Church's catechism holds that, "Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: 'He who hears you, hears me', the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms."
But that's no good to Sister Sally, who is itching for either a mass exodus of nuns or a battle royale aimed at taking on the Church's Magisterium:
The nuns are facing the worst possible conundrum. Do they stay in a church that vilifies and condemns them, tells them where they can speak and what they can say, disrespects them and does not value what they do? Do they leave the church? Or do they stay and fight for their rightful place in the church, turn into “radical feminists” and take on the boys’ club?
I hope they choose one of the latter two. But they alone will decide by “listening deeply to the call of the Spirit.”