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September 17th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Nuns speak out on Vatican investigations

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff, CNN

(CNN) – The "talk" has been "heated" of late on Sister Maureen Fiedler's WAMU radio show in Washington DC. A sample: "Some of my friends asked me whether Vatican officials suffer a deep-seated hatred of women."

Sister Maureen understands why her listeners, mostly Catholic nuns and religious women, feel the need to sound off. They've been frustrated, even angry, ever since the Vatican ordered two sweeping investigations into the religious views and lifestyles of American nuns.

"What I hear from a lot of lately with regard to this investigation," said Fiedler, "is, let me get this straight: It's priests that abuse children. Some priests, of course. It's bishops that covered it up. So they're investigating nuns?

One of those Vatican-ordered investigations, which are now nearing completion, involves a two-part questionnaire consisting of 120 detailed questions like: What is the process for responding to sisters who dissent publicly from Church teaching...? How does the manner of dress of your sisters...(lend) to the dignity...of your vocation? And, what are the procedures for dealing with matters (like) civil disobedience, criminal activity, sexual improprieties, etc?

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck is concerned, too. She is the past president of Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization that says it represents tens of thousands of nuns and women religious across the country. She says many nuns are alarmed by what they call intrusive questions put forth by the male hierarchy of the church.

"We weren't quite expecting to walk into this kind of process that would test our authenticity and our integrity."

Last month, LCWR held its annual leadership conference to discuss, among other things, how to handle the Vatican investigations. Some nuns have decided to fight back by boycotting all or part of the questionnaire. Others are still deciding whether to answer questions in a second Vatican-ordered investigation, one that involves face-to-face questioning in nuns' homes and convents. The second round of that investigation will start soon.

Fiedler, who in addition to her radio show, also wrote, "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling," is more blunt about what nuns fear from these investigations. She says nuns, who haven't lived in convents since the 1950's, will be forced to live that way again and be forced back into wearing a habit. They also fear Rome wants to silence them when they disagree with the Pope on issues like gays in the church and women's rights.

The fear, says Fiedler, "is they want to be able to control what nuns do…in every aspect of their lives."

The Vatican says that fear is "unfounded." And, it aims to prove it. Rome just appointed Father Joseph Tobin the number two official for religious life. He is well-liked and respected by many American nuns and hopes to calm the fears surrounding the investigations.

"Some of it," he says, "might be a very deep-seated misunderstanding. There is a need for dialogue and dialogue means that two parties are honestly conversing in search of the truth."

Truth is what Sister Marlene Weisenbeck wants, too. But, she adds, "There is no turning back. I don't think that happens in any living organism. God doesn't turn the creation in opposite directions."

In other words, there is no turning back the clock on American nuns.

Sound off: What do you think about the Vatican's investigation of American nuns?

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Sr. Christine

    It always amazes me how extreme people can be. I pray before I read these kinds of comments.

    I am a sister, not a nun. I am a Franciscan–we are not apostolic nor monastic. We are evangelical, yet for 800 years the Vatican has pigeon-holed us into one of the other two categories. I receive fewer sacraments than priests or married couples because there is no sacrament for our vowed life.

    Yes, sisters did use corporal punishment in the past, just like was used in the public schools and other private schools. I went to catholic grade school, high school and college. I never saw the physical punishment. I believe that whenever if was done, catholic ornon-catholic, it was wrong. It was "acceptable" at the time. I am ministering in an Archdiocese that has not allowed corporal punishment for years although the State and most public school districts allow it.

    My congregation does not wear a habit: 1) The habit was the dress of widows from the Middle Ages. Women wanted to serve God's people but society and the church did not allow them "out" without a male escort unless they were widows. The women found a way to serve. The dress they wore was secular–not holy. 2) The habit gave us a place of privilege–doors held open, seats on the bus, meals paid for–simply because we were identified as sisters/nuns. How can I honestly and fully live my vow of poverty when I am given special treatment, when I am treated better than many of my brothers and sisters. 3) As evangelical Franciscans, relationship is our priority–relationship with God, others, God's creation and ourselves. Frequently the habit gets in the way of this. People feel like they will be judged, are not worthy to approach us, etc. If the habit gets in the way of relationship with God's people, why wear it?

    The visitation/investigation may or may not be a good thing. If dialogue was open and the reports available to us so we could address concerns, correct problems, answer questions, then I might support it fully. Unfortunately this is not the case. We don't get to see the report. Questions are asked without the possibility of explanation. I have frequently said that when the Vatican pays our bills then I would be happy to share our financial information with them. How can our Congregational Minister (a Franciscan term for our leadership) ensure the quality of each individul sister's daily prayer? Even if she could call all 575 of us each day, there is no way she can ensure the quality of our prayer. Can a pastor do this for his congregation or even a parish staff? Can the Pope do this for his own office staff?

    We answered many of the questions asked of us by simply quoting our Constitutions, which were just approved by the Vatican, and the Gospel, which we try to follow very closely. Quoting wasn't a form of trying to get around answering the questions, just a way to clearly answer them.

    Religious life, and priesthood, had a sudden membership increase in the mid part of the 20th century. This was an anomaly is the history of almost 2000 years. Never before had people entered in those numbers, and it may never be again. Why is there a concern that the numbers are down when we are simply returning to the norm? Isn't there room in our church for traditional and liberal? Large numbers of young people entering but then leaving the congregation is hard on everybody. Unfortunately the young women who enter a religious order, traditional or liberal, that is not right for them, gets "soured" on religious life and gives often leaves and doesn't try another congregation. This isn't good for them, the congregation, nor the church and God's people.

    As for ministries, most congregations were founded in a specific time and place for a specific reason. My congregation started on the east coast in the mid-1800's. We worked with imigrant women. The local bishop brought a box of books to us, not requested by us, and asked us to teach–we did. Then there were great medical needs–so we opened hospitals. None of these endeavors were financed by the church. We opened orphanages when there was a need for these–again, not financially supported by the church. A couple of bishops got into power struggles and refused to allow our sisters to communicate with each other or to return to the motherhouse. Our congregation split because of this–not our desire or the needs of the people, but because of church hierarchy struggling for power and not being honest with each other or us. As needs arised in society and the church, we continued to respond–again working with immigrants, teaching, healthcare, orphanages, social work, youth ministry, spiritual ministry, etc. We have held true to our foundress/founder–meet the needs of the people of the time. Are Catholic schools and hospitals where we are needed most? We could debate this for eons. Other laity are more than capable of doing these ministries, I believe. Aren't they?

    By the way, Sophia means "wisdom" and is used to reference the Holy Spirit. Whether this term resonates with an individual or not in reference to God the Spirit, it is an accurate translation.

    Hope this adds some accurate information to the discussion. Let us all keep each other in prayer and be respectful of the child of God that we have been created to be.

    September 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  2. daniel joseph

    Leave the nuns alone! it is not neccessary for the Vatican to interfere, unless that is just part of their plan in their continuing efforts to totally destroy the church instead of helping it grow in new and inclusive ways. We cannot go backwards, no matter how much both our pope and his overly-conservative fans wish to. We the people are the church, and the sooner we realize that, and take rightful ownership of our inheritance the better off we all will be.

    September 21, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  3. Chris Stanton

    We keep hearing about the priests who abused children and how it was covered up. Those priests and anyone else involved in covering these hideous crimes up should be punished and sent away to prison for a long long time. Funny though how these nuns who support prisoners and think it's cruel to house them in prisons bring this up. These are not the nuns I remember of my childhood, the ones who would teach us and give us a good crack when we deserved it. These nuns are nothing more than feminist radicals, almost like current day witches. How many American nuns still wear a cross as a necklace compared to pendants of trees and other pagan items? If they don't like it then leave! They are not forced to remain in their orders, just leave! These nuns cry out against war and prisoner rights but what makes me sick is the fact that never do they utter a word about the unborn. A bunch of hypocrites!

    September 21, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  4. Daniel

    Todays "modern" (?) nuns with their liberal philosophy; their abdication of any sense of leading example with their incognito dress code and their festering anger that they cannot become priests are a dying lot. When they are gone, this age of sisters (post 1970) will be known collectively as the most non relevant and poor examples of professed vocations ever to claim to be in Christs service in the history of our Church.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  5. Nok

    Cammi thinks nuns are female counterparts to priests. WRONG!! Brothers are counterparts to sisters. Monks are counterparts to Nuns. Priests have no counterparts.

    Cammi paints this as a male vs. female thing. That's erroneous. There are lots of men who are in the same boat she mentions. It's not a "pickin' on the women thing". Nice try.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  6. Nok

    That's interesting that the "sisters" not "nuns" feel that clergy have abused kids and bishops have covered it up, so they go after the "sisters". The conveniently don't mention that there are many claims that women religious have abused kids also. I guess they get a pass. All abuse of innocent kids whether in elementary schools or wherever is not acceptable. The sisters are employing a strategy of claiming discrimination to cover up their other problems. The "nuns" are not being visited by the Vatican. However, religious "sisters". There's a difference. CCN – next time do your homework and get it straight please. The public needs good reporting, not your precalculated propaganda.

    September 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  7. RezIpsoLoquitor

    Investigate the whole thing! There was always a little bit of gunk, but the gunk from Vatican II & forward needs a clean sweep.

    Investigate seminary faculty as well while you're at it!

    September 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  8. John

    Looks like the usual tribe of hatemongers, bigots, and hypocrites are out in full force again, insisting as usual that the Church can't possibly exercise any authority in their lives. I thought the tone sounded suspicious at first, then caught the note about LCWR. That explained everything!
    Regrettably, LCWR insists on believing that Vatican II changed everything and that they're fully entitled to do and believe precisely what they want and still call themselves Catholic. It didn't and they aren't. It's that simple.
    I think most of this outrcy against the Vatican's intervention stems from a stubborn unwillingness to actually live as Christ taught, not as some wish to pretend He taught.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  9. Mary

    I am a Catholic and totally for the Vatican's apostolic visitation which you and others call an investigation. I work at a University. We are periodically reviewed to not only make sure that we are in compliance to standards but also to keep us up to date and engage in the debate of what academia is and should be. This visitation is the same. I do object to nuns who decide to use the media to complain. I object to nuns who have a political agenda. I doubt they'll listen to me but the more they complain, the more I believe they have something to hide.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  10. Rachel

    The Church is doing the correct thing.

    They are investigating everything now and should. There are also many nuns who were responsible for some of the physical abuse that happened to children that were in boarding schools and such.

    Obviously though, the nunnery is already having some dissenting problems. When one becomes a nun, you not only consecrate your life to Jesus, you also promise to follow the authority of the Church. If the Church requests a questionnaire be performed, then the nuns should do so without complaint no matter what their own thoughts may be on it.

    Of course, if something is asked of them by a priest that is against their vows or against God…then obviously they can refuse and report it to the Church (i.e. sexual favors, murder, lying and so on).

    The nuns in America have fallen very low in some areas. They have forgotten their calling and have shirked their humble garments. I have seen pictures of nuns wearing tight pencil skirts and blouses—nothing that would show them to be a nun except for possibly having a crucifix around their neck. Of course, many lay Catholics wear them too…

    This is against the Church. Canon Law (#669) dictates that “As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute’s own law.

    Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress, in accordance with canon 284.”

    It is a true shame, in my opinion, for there was something very powerful of the image of a nun in her full habit. Maybe they should all watch “Lilies of the Field” and see these women who walked miles just to attend Mass in their full habits.

    Please, my religious Sisters, remember your habits. Remember why you wear them and remember that you are subject to the authority of the Church, given to her by Christ Jesus.

    September 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Lauren

    I cannot believe how many people on here assume the Catholic Church is oppressive to women. Have you not read the Vatican documents that proclaim the great beauty and honor of women? Like I said before, most people who have a beef with the Church haven't even taken the time to learn WHY the Church teaches what she does. On another note, I know several young women personally who are living out authentic calls to the religious life and they are happy to be humble servants of the Lord. They have no desire to be priests. I would bet that most young women entering religious life these days are doing it for the right reasons – they are answering a call from God to give everything to love and serve Him and His children. The women who desire to be priests have unfortunately been misled by the awful catechesis that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Thankfully we are now seeing a great revival in orthodoxy, mostly due to the influence of Pope John Paul II and it is awesome. Let's also not forget how much the Church is booming in other countries like Africa, India, and Asia. The Church is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. Its the only institution in the world that still has enough of a backbone to desire the very best for people and hold people accountable to their actions, which ultimately leads to true happiness.

    September 20, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  12. Derek

    "In other words, there is no turning back the clock on American nuns."...

    If dialogue is to happen, this attitude is not going to be helpful.

    Interestingly enough all the Sister communities that have dissented on Church teachings and have become less faithful are dwindling in numbers. On the flip side, the Convents that remain faithful to the Church are blossoming. One might say that the problem might sort themselves out in a decade or two, but the Pope is genuinly concerned with the former!

    September 20, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  13. Crayg

    American Catholics should just schism already.

    September 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  14. Joan Krebs

    This in reply to Bob's comment earlier in the queue in which he stays "'on topic", pushing a line that's become almost a cliche. All the code phrases are there: those who resist or dissents are really attackers. They are either ignorant or full of bigotry so we're led to infer those who toe the line are superior and full of piety.

    After this we're treated to the other cliche: religious orders with (and I quote) "strict obedience to the teachings, doctrine, tradition, magesterium" are "exploding with nuns coming to their convents and orders". A couple of questions: 1) are we to assume then that numbers determine vocation quality? 2) Never when this cliche is put forth as an argument do I see "scriptures" added to the list of things for "strict obedience". Shouldn't scriptures (the word of God) be given pride of place in one's life? 3) About those orders with explosive numbers of newcomers. You say that's the real story. Perhaps. But when this story is told, be sure to include how many of these women who come to these orders remain there (I've read more than one account where the nuns in charge lament that many young women leave after only a short time). Yes, by all means let's hear the "real story" but don't stop after the prologue or the first chapter. We all know that in the non-explosive orders the great majority of women stay for a lifetime.

    September 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  15. Bruce

    Sister Fielder, one of the most radical feminists in the Church, is quite right. There is no turning back. She is part of a "dying organism," to paraphrase her. However, the death of the liberal religious communities which make up the Leadership Conference – which contrary to press reports does NOT represent all or even the majority of women religious in the US, will not be the death of women religious in the United States. Far from it. There are dozens of vibrant women's communities, some with hundreds of vocations in the past decade, that are not infected with moral and doctrinal heterodoxy who are replacing them.

    September 18, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  16. Alice Eads

    I was born and raised Catholic and quite frankly, it is very difficult to tell the current nuns from lay people. While I'm not saying that they should go back to the long habits that they used to wear, I think they at the very list should wear something that separates them from the common people. Priests can be differentiated by the way they dress, so why can't nuns.

    Also, I believe that they should at the very least live in common houses, you don't have to call them convents, but nun should live with nuns. They took certain vows, and I don't believe that they are living up to those vows with the they new lifestyles. If they don't like following the rules then let them leave the order.

    September 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  17. Madeline Knapp

    There is nothing new about patriarchal religions demanding that women take the 'fall' when men screw up. In some Islamic nations, for example, women now must cover themselves so that men are not sexually stimulated by looking at women. In Catholicism, women cannot hold the priesthood so that men get something women can't have. It stands to reason that while male priests abuse children, women are investigated.

    Mimi

    September 18, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  18. Helen

    It is the lack of transparency that I find a form of abuse and an unjust action. This is unbelieveable in this day and age. What happened to dialoque?

    September 18, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  19. Eileen McLaughlin

    I believe your coverage of American nuns was very biased. Why did you zero in on the most exteme questions of the questionnaire on the so called "dissident" nuns rather than on the ones most faithful and appropriate to the majority US women relgious? This majorityy has remained faithful to what the Church has requested of them: to return to their original charism of teaching, healing and being in soldidarity with those most in need of hearing/living the gospel values. Why did you not report that the American nuns receive only minimal financial assistance from the RC church for retirement of their elderly (most of their present numbers).

    September 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  20. Patrick

    I cant believe how foolish the public is to believe the church is somehow against women. The Catholic church lifts women to a higher level than any Christian church has. Women have a very strong voice and presence in the church. The Catholic church does not force sisters to do anything, this is totally naive to believe this. Nuns choose their vocations freely and have taken a vow of poverty and chastity. These sisters who were interviewed for this piece will soon be dead and there Orders will die with them unless they turn back to God. Maybe CNN should do a piece on how traditional convents are overflowing with young women who are interested in being faithful to God and the Church. And they actually want to wear there habits. I have two things to say to these progressive dissident sisters, GET OUT OF OUR CHURCH! WE DONT WANT YOU!

    September 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  21. Bob

    It's amazing how an 84 year old man comming to Britian to preach on the Truths of Christ should so frighten a secularized people. I guess if I was not living my life to the true teachings of Jesus I would be horrified to.

    The Catholic Church is the only Church started by Christ Himself. The fullness of His teaching is located within.

    as far as the abuse crisis, do all men sin? Of course. Good luck to those who want tofind a church outsde of the Catholic Church were its members don't sin.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  22. Libby

    "called" to be a priest, that is.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  23. Esther Cabassa

    These priests are a bunch of old farts. I say take them out

    September 17, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  24. Libby

    Did you think to mention how the Catholic Church – like all other organizations – needs the leadership of women? Once during Mass, the priest was giving the annual pep talk on vocations to the priesthood. He asked those who felt called to stand. No one did. He asked again. No one did. He asked a third time. I stood up. I am female. He looked right through me and then to his notes and kept on with his sermon.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  25. Gitfidl

    There is nothing more demented than the nuns. They used to whip the snot out of boys with a yard stick. They broke many oaken yard sticks over the backs of boys. They hated boys (and the convinced them NOT to remain Catholic). Boot camp was a breeze compared to the nuns.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  26. Ally

    Why is this investigation targeting only women religious? There are communities of men in the U.S. Are they also being questioned? Women religious have held this institution together through the education, good works and example given to millions of catholics who were the recipients. This investigation is, I feel, a smoke screen to take the heat and attention away from the sexual abuse scandal that continues to weaken the spiritual, moral and financial foundation of the church. A dress does not make a woman, a habit does not make a nun, and a collar does not make a priest. It is the integrity and witness given through word and action, faithful to the Gospel message, that has shaped women religious, and the spirit will continue to work through them.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  27. Ally

    The male dominated, power hungry higherarchy of the church can see the writing on the walls. Catholic churches have seen their numbers decline, financial coffers are down, and certainly far fewer vocations to either the priesthood and/or to religious life for women. However, this pope continues to underestimate the power of the people of God.This investigation is a smoke screen to take the heat off the sexual abuse scandal that continues to shake the foundation of the spiritual, moral ,ethical, and financial strength of the church, and the power of the vatican to dictate the actions of the faithful. No longer will the faithful be puppets, controlled by hypocrites. but spirit filled, holy people walking the journey with their God.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  28. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Who would have ever thought that our Christian god would be mocked and hijacked all at the same time I will never attend a church that has changed the meaning of gods words .

    September 17, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  29. Bob

    I continue to see on these posted comments an incredible lack of understanding or knowledge of the Catholic Church, its teachings, doctrines and Magisterium. Also, just a plain bigotry of the Church. When one attacks the Church, have you studied its teachings, etc. and gained a sufficient understanding of the Catholic Church to render an informed opinion? Or are you just posting here to ignorantly attack the Catholic Church?

    Why are Catholic nun orders that wear habits and have a strict obedience to the teachings, doctrine, Tradition, and Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the USA and around the world exploding with young women comming in to their convents and orders?? There's the stry to be reported on.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  30. Former Catholic

    There's no difference between a burqa and a nun's habit.
    The Catholic church is a patriarchal organization where the role of women is diminished and the criteria to have a voice in the organization requires being born with a penis.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  31. Delia

    Because these groups of nuns call themselves Catholic, connect themselves to the Catholic Church by more than mere association, and present themselves as representatives of Catholicism, it seems appropriate that the Catholic Church know the answers to these questions. Thousands if not millions of people form their perception and understanding of the Catholic Church based on the actions and teaching of these women. The Church is being responsible by ensuring Catholicism is represented appropriately.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  32. Lil Cruz

    I am surprise the ways the way the attire of the nuns have so radically changed, first the habits were altered by shortening the skirts , stioll they kept the head semi covered, then the habits just disapeared, priest still wear their collar and theu usual other vestments, but one of the nuns in this morning interview ...what's with the dangling earings? and the red flowered jacket? I am 66 yrs old , went to Catholic school all my life ,my childred went to cstholic schools and colleges , one thing I want to make very clear: NOT ONCE I OR MY CHILDREN WERE HIT BY A NUN, people ask this all the time.
    I am aware that change is needed , some times changes are for the good,but with the nuns , this is taken to the extreme. I am a nurse at the local hospital so I meet a lot of people , I meet change every day, and change is needed in all walks of life

    Thank you
    LIl Cruz

    September 17, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  33. Sue

    This investigation which began in 2008 fits the historical pattern of the Vatican's oppression and control of women. There have been numerous times in the last 2000 years when special edicts were issued controlling everything from where nuns live to what they can say; historically some of the measures have been violent. (See a new Kindle book on this subject.) Every single time women exert any sort of independence, or act in any way which criticizes the agenda of the Vatican, they have been beaten into submission (literally during the Inquisition). They will never be allowed equality or the ability to establish any theological or progressive thinking. It started when Peter told Mary Magdalene she could not preach....

    September 17, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  34. Steph

    I remember the Principle of my school questioning the biship about the priest in our school, who molested boys and girls for years. She was told to keep her mouth shut. Needless to say, most are no longer nuns, and I am no longer a catholic. They need to take the "log" out of their own eye first. The priests and the vatican took me out of the Catholic church. The nuns brought me to firmly believe and have faith in God.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  35. Joan

    It seems that the thing that causes concern about the Vatican Investigations is the element of 'secrecy'. Of what value is a study without feedback?

    September 17, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  36. Bill Lavonis

    I have a relative in an order of sisters. What is also unbelievable about the Vatican investigations is the fact that the order is required to provide transportation, meals and housing to the Vatican representatives with no reimbursement and, after the investigation, the sisters receive no feedback or directives. This is truly an antiquated, unjust and typically male-dominated travesty!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:36 am |
  37. Francine Price

    I grew up with nuns. The Catholic Church is sexist and it's draconic sexism can be linked to St. Augustine's prudish doctrine. If the Catholic Church is going after nuns, then it should go after itself for allowing the enslavement of thousands of young and old women along with children who were abandoned and forsaken and abused in Magdalene Laundries by the Sisters of Mercy and Charity. They should also askt why in 1996 there were 150 unmarked graves in a Dublin Convent yard. Once upon the time some of these women I mention were put in these laundries for the "sin of rape" and had to atone in these convent laundries for the 'sin of allowing themselves to be raped.'"

    Leave American Nuns alone. You can't turn back time.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  38. Ron

    This is all powerful evidence that "religious organization" of all sorts has lost it's way. There is rarely any mention of what Christ taught in these matters. Rather, the so-called Church has become "politicized" with talk of "rights?"

    Who are we disciples of? Humans or human agencies (The so-called Church) or of Christ?

    Christ would not recognize any of you as his own.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  39. Charlotte

    The investigation of American nuns is just another aspect of the Catholic church's distrust of women...they don't trust them to be priests and they don't trust them to conduct themselves "appropriately" in their vocations.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  40. Cammi

    Their is something very wrong with the fact that male (priests) are given the sacrament of holy orders, while their female (nuns) counterparts are still considered lay people and receive no sacrament. I have doubt that that is a complete corruption. What arrogance!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  41. Diane Lee

    In the documentary "Behind the Veil" it is stated hat in the early Roman Catholic church, nuns had established successful convents that were centers of learning where women could be educated, that owned land and had some wealth and power. The Vatican decided that the nun's had to much power and changed the rules and placed convents under the priest's control. There was also a convening at the Vatican of those in power in the church at the time to examine the issue of whether women have a even have a soul. At the dawning of the very early church, women were ordained and could even be Bishop's. Are we seeing a return to this time? Or can the Roman Catholic church move into the 21st century. I am shocked but not surprised that the Pope is questioning the lifestyle of nun's. How dare they. Let them question themselves and their male dominated kingdom.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  42. Colleen

    Perhaps the Catholic Church should interview their Priest with the same vigor on the issue of sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church should be conducting interviews that focus on the positive influences these women have in our communities and use them as examples of what is positive in their organization.

    Mother Teresa said “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” To the officials in the Catholic Church who have decided to focus on this group, I say “You should stop dumping water on the shining lights of your organization. Instead you should learn from these strong women who truly live the life of poverty and devoted their lives faithfully to an organization that often do not support them either spiritually or financially.”

    September 17, 2010 at 6:55 am |
  43. ramon domingo,.

    the piece by Costello is a one sided view of only this dissident nun's views.
    they are a dying organization and soon they will die themselves out of the Church's existent. they are old dissenting sisters whose groups do not attract new members !!

    they dissent from the Church teachings and continue to clamor to be Priests; they teach and espouse a new god called " Sophia". or some new age teachings and beliefs. They harbor views or practice
    almost some neo-paganistic non catholic or non christians views and yet they want to be labelled as "loyal dissenters" they are "disloyal Church dissenters" they openly deviate from the Church Teachings and scandalize the Catholic laity . Yes , i am aware of these Disloyal Nuns and in fact one of them a number of years ago was taching about this " Sophia", a female goddess., We do not need these kinds of nuns. There is only ONE Magisterium and these disloyal nuns are certainly not MY Magisterium nor even this well meaning Costello who really doesn't grasp the issue among Catholics.

    runzambo

    September 17, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  44. Mary Jo Jones

    I am a Catholic Mom with three children who have attended Catholic School all their lives. I also had the privilege to work for the Dominican Sisters for about two years. It has come abundantly clear to me that the Sisters were nothing more than a money making machine for the Church. And as we have all seen, because the Sisters are older they can no longer work (break their backs) for the Church while the Church so graciously accepted all the money ; via their "parishioners". Do the Sisters get any of that money? NO! I don't think you have to dig deep to realize this, Dioceses around the country give zero funds to Sisters. I bet this is why the Church is doing their investigation, they are getting nervous that their "shakers and doers" are becoming extinct.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  45. Phil

    Nuns have abused & tortured school children for centuries. Obviously, nuns need more direction in their convocation.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  46. Lauren Walter

    As a young, practicing Catholic woman, I support the Church in its investigation of religious sisters. The investigation itself should not be taken defensively, as if the Church assumes religious women are doing something wrong, but rather, it should comfort Catholics that the Church cares enough to make sure that women religious are being held accountable. The Church is wise in taking this extra step to ensure that all women religious are truly living in accordance with their dignity. The Church's intention is always that people deserve to live out their lives in the most fulfilling way possible and often times, that means there needs to be some sense of accountability.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  47. keith

    The Vatican should be sending questionaires, and investigating, priests – especially after the history, and prevalence of abuse of children by Catholic priests! That is where the Vatican should be focusing their time, and energies.

    The one thing that is saving the Catholic church is the nuns, and the charity, they display, and have displayed for decades.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:37 am |
  48. roderick m. f. petty

    i believe woman are very special to God and a blessing to the church. there were many saints who were woman and i believe they have a special connection to God and a special role to play in the Church.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:36 am |
  49. Peter

    Is this just a ploy to divert attention from the problems Priests have had? Should that questionaire been sent to Priests? Prahaps the Church should start focusing on bringing back its flock.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:32 am |