My Take on the Nuns

A reader writes:

I don’t know if I missed a post on the LCWR (I think that is right).  I was a little put out to see buttons at mass a couple of weeks ago that say “I stand with the sisters”.  Not because I stand with or against them,but because I don’t believe mass is the place to make what feels like a political statement.  Anyway, I have tried to do some research on the LCWR and have read Sr. Miriam’s blog.  What do you say on this issue?  My friends outside the church have said that yet again the church is beating up on women, and our deacon gave a homily a few months ago that left me feeling that if I am a women who is content with “my place” in the Catholic Church, there must be something wrong with me.  Actually, it left me quite angry.  I guess I am supposed to feel like the poor, oppressed, little woman.

I really enjoy your blog, thanks for my morning read.  It goes well with coffee.

Tusend tak for your kind words.  As to the nuns, I think the attempt to rein them in is long overdue and totally empathize with Rome’s concerns and with my poor suffering archbishop who is tasked with the thankless job of trying to deal with the crazy goddess-worshipping rubbish still kept on life support in this particularly self-indulgent hothouse of Generation Narcissus failed religiosity.  It is spectacularly dishonest to claim that the investigation is somehow a product of hostility to “women”. In fact, as is their custom, Rome has take about 20 year too long to respond to this problem out of the very typical reluctance Rome feels to boss people around.  The hope was that the loony goddess crap, the witchery, the nutty New Age nonsense and all the rest of it would be handled locally in true subsidiary fashion.  Didn’t happen–because these nuns in fact wield an awful lot of power as they whine about “disempowerment” and their bishops cringe.  So finally Rome is responding.  What will eventually happen is simply this: These nuns will get old and die and leave no spiritual daughters to carry on their boring heretical legacy.  Meanwhile, young new orders of nuns who actually believe the gospel will grow and flourish because orthodoxy is interesting and beautiful and heresy is old and busted–and booooooring.  Give me a Sr. Miriam Heidland, a Mother Teresa, or a Nashville Dominican any day.  Smart, competent, in charge, orthodox and endlessly interesting.  Too busy serving Jesus with authority and power to blather about “feeling disempowered.”

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  • Marion (Mael Muire)


    Brilliant! Full marks! Superbly written! Thank you!


    A Catholic Woman

  • Catholic grandma

    If I ponder it a hundred years, I don’t think I will ever understand why this generation of heretical nuns gave up their opportunity to me mothers and wives just to enter an order and then purged the best parts of Catholicism. They could have kept their social options open and followed the goddess foolishness on their own time. No wonder they are so cranky…they missed out on the best life had to offer twice over.

    I agree with Mark that this problem will solve itself…I have NEVER met a younger women with these views and I never expect to.

    I would be annoyed if I heard a homily inferring that I am oppressed living out my vocational life in the Church as it is. We don’t have homilies like that in the Diocese of Arlington , VA – we’re an orthodox crowd. I am a convert and I have had powerful and dynamic opportunities to serve the Church and my fellow man – just NOT as a Deacon or Priest and I’m fine with that.

    • Chris M

      “No wonder they are so cranky…they missed out on the best life had to offer twice over. ”

      YEOUCH.. that’s gonna leave a mark. Well put.

    • MarylandBill

      I wonder if these Sisters might have entered the convent because they saw it, at the time as a very feminist statement. Not sacrificing the role of wife and mother to serve God, but rejecting that role because of the mistaken feminist ideal that those roles were the the central aspect of women’t oppression.

      At the same time they saw a church that appeared to be changing very rapidly. I imagine if you transported a Catholic from 1960 and showed them the Church in 1978 (say right before Pope John Paul II was elected), they would be hard pressed to recognize it. Lots and lots of people thought it was only going to be a matter of time before the Church accepted the idea of women priests.

      When it turned out that what had appeared to be change was really excesses, rather than either accept the new order, or ask to leave their orders, it seems these sisters decided to take their orders in new directions… with very unfortunate results.

    • Sophia

      I am blown away by your ignorance. God forgive you for all the nonsense you are all saying and for such harsh generalizations you are making.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        “Shut up,” she explained.

  • Confederate Papist

    Amen Mark….aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamen!

    Good luck this weekend!

  • Catholic Grandma took the words right out of my mouth. Young Catholic women are willing to devote their lives to Christ. But why should anyone with a lick of sense want to give up marriage and children to be a goddess-and-earth-worshipping social worker with a bad haircut?

  • Ed Mechmann

    Anyone with any doubt about the need for doctrinal oversight of the LCWR sisters, needs to look at the remarks by Sr. Simone Campbell, the “nun on the bus” at the Dem convention:

    Her claims to be pro-life, even though she had not a single word to say about the Administration’s radical pro-abortion policies:

    Her unwillingness to say that she supports legal protection for the unborn (with the flippant remark that it’s “above my pay grade”):

  • Ellen

    My sister went on what she thought would be a nice retreat at an order of (aging) nuns and came back to tell me that they have totally weirded out. They won’t use any masculine pronouns and refuse to call God Father.


    • Ted Seeber

      It isn’t just nuns. My parish is full of Baby Boomer women, many married with grown children, who act this way.

      Last Sunday, our new pastor, who was in school in the same parish in the 1960s gave me a half a clue into the strange behavior of that generation. I am beginning to think it is a psychological reaction to the FUD of MAD (for those who don’t know these highly technical political terms, FUD is “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”, and MAD is “Mutually Assured Destruction”. The first is a marketing method, the second is a military strategy that uses that marketing method). After years of being told by all the legitimate government authorities in the world that nuclear war was imminent, and that the only thing they could do about it was build bomb shelters in the back yard and hide underneath desks, they rejected all authority whatsoever. Since Feminists of that era link the Patriarchy, and Fatherhood, with authority, the rejection of the image of God the Father makes some sense.

      On the other side of the equation, you have the libertarians rejecting the fiscal authority of legitimate government.

      It’s all just one big rejection of the concept of authority, which makes me wonder why anybody of that generation who feels that way is still engaged with civilization at all, let alone the Church.

      • beccolina

        I definitely agree with your last paragraph. I’ve often thought that many people who say they have a problem with the Church or organized religion actually have a problem with authority. Unfortunately for them, the Divine Authority doesn’t go away or get over thrown, voted out or change. Ever. Perhaps I should say, “Fortunately for them . . .”

      • SouthCoast

        Your pastor, who would seem to be of my own generation, is right. It took me a good portion of my life to get over the duck-and-cover drills, Missle Crises, and recurrent nuclear nightmares of my childhood. That the ICBM was the natural father of the Woodstock Generation is a fact that is given very little notice by pundits of any political stripe (yes, I know, the imagery is Freudian, deal with it). From Missle Crisis to Missal Crisis: my generation was so blessed, but so damaged, by both global politics and, later, personal choice. Were/are we unique in history in this? Of course not. Nonetheless, Kyrie eleison.

      • What are guys talking about? The Cold War was awesome. Ronald Reagan made the Soviets pee their collective pants, Matthew Broderick solved the technical problems, and the Wolverines hid out in the mountains and kicked some communist tail. I don’t remember ever doing a duck and cover drill in the eighties. My friends and I used to go out to the sand pits and play World War III. At some point we got more optimistic. Was it Reagan, or the faded memory of Vietnam?

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          “I don’t remember ever doing a duck and cover drill in the eighties.:

          By the eighties, Reagan was in office.

          Let me take you back to 1962. Some little kids playing on the living room floor while their parents sat glued to the black-and-white TV, tuned to the news. Kids got rambunctious, shrilling and squealing at the top of their lungs, as kids do, and Mama whirled around and hollered at them: “Will you children be quiet? Your father and I are trying to hear whether we will be . . . (she paused searching for words) . . . safe in our beds tonight!”

          Children sat stunned. Didn’t know what to make of it. Mama looked and sounded so upset. That was unusual. Children didn’t have any idea what she meant by what she had said, but she had succeeding in getting their attention, and they piped down for, oh, a good ten minutes.
          + + + + +

          On one of the mountaintops of the range surrounding the valley was the “Big Gun.” We kids called it “The Nikey Sike”, but that was our mispronunciation of Nike Site, the long-range missile silo guarding our area. The children walked toward the “Big Gun” on their way to school every morning, and used it as a landmark when walking or cycling to the homes of friends or to an as yet unexplored park or playground. The “Big Gun” was the thing we looked for.

          + + + + + + + +

          One of the neighbors, Mr Curtis dug up his entire side yard to build a bomb shelter. He had some friends over, and they dug a deep pit in the ground. All the children in the neighborhood watched. He built it with cinderblocks and cement. A few of the other families built bomb shelters, too. The children I was writing about decided they would be better off hiding under their bed if the Russians bombed them, not climbing down into some awful hole like the one Mr. Curtis was making. That way, the family could stay together better.

          + + + + + + +
          The children were used to sonic booms. The jets were flying so high you couldn’t really see them, but you could see the contrails. Suddenly, even on a brilliant blue day, there would be what sounded like an horrific clap of thunder. But the frequency was quite low, much lower than the usual thunderclap, which was sort of a tenor bang. This was a basso profundo bang, very close and very loud. So loud, the ground would seem to shake a little bit. We were told it was the military jets, practicing and testing. Just in case.

          + + + + + + +

          At school, the children had fire drills, earthquake drills, and nuclear bomb drills. The students had to do three different things for each kind of drill. At home, most of their Dads told them that the fire drills and the earthquake drills were worthwhile and would probably work. But the nuclear bomb drills weren’t, and wouldn’t. The children didn’t know what that meant, but their Moms told them to finish their suppers, and just do what the teacher told them to do, no matter what, and not to worry. And then the Mom would ask their Dad to step out on the patio for a moment and close the door. The Dads would come in a few minutes later looking a bit chastened.

          + + + + + + +

          It wasn’t difficult to remember to go to Confession on Saturday afternoons, if you needed to. Moms would ask if anyone would like to go, and a picture of the “Nikey Sike” would come into many of the childrens’ minds and they would reply, “Confession? I’m goin’!”

          • Therese Z

            I’m there with a lot of those memories. Lots of military planes flying low over the house, from the military side of O’Hare and the Navy Base in Glenview. Those orange signs that showed that the library and the bank had bomb shelters to run to.

            Ted is totally right – it’s the older Boomer women who are reacting much as these sisters are. There is a woman a few rows behind me at Sunday Mass who will NOT say “He” or “His” or “Father.” So it’s God sends God’s Mercy on God’s children, and her head is up proudly as she intones this loudly. She and her ilk have nothing positive to say about men, including their husbands. It’s pretty ugly.

        • Ted Seeber

          Jon, you’re Generation Y. As in Why bother. It’s the Baby Boomers who were psychologically twisted, and who are still in charge of our politics.

  • Irenist

    “Tusend tak,” eh? Danish–more proof that Mark Shea is an Obama-loving Romney-lover who hates America!

  • Alias Clio

    I’m not certain about boomers, etc., having a problem with authority. They seem to accept a remarkable extension of government authority into people’s lives quite willingly, and they wield it with enthusiasm, too.

    One possible reason for this rejection of marriage and motherhood for a vocation that they don’t seem to have wholly embraced is that some of them, the older ones, must have entered their orders at a time before the upheavals of VatII, and were too old to join the marriage dance once it was over. Some joined during the upheavals, expecting that the Church was going to change more deeply than it did. I’ve met a few nuns and ex-nuns like that. Another possible reason: some of these ladies entered orders because they did not like men, either because they had SSA or because of bad early experiences with them. I’ve met a few nuns of this kind, too.

  • Julia

    I’m younger than the generation in question, but it seems like the unrest during and post VII (not that it’s what VII intended, but that it was an unfortunate consequence of a good idea) led to poor catechesis. Mix that with the sexual revolution, and viola, you have the LCWR.

    As for younger women and orthodoxy, we want it (young men too). We’re looking for the heart of the Church, in her doctrines, dogmas, and teachings. Not all of us, certainly, but those of us who remain faithfully Catholic (especially through college) have a deep respect for mother Church and her teachings.

  • Mswift

    hahah……so true…..heresy is freaking boring and stale!

  • Will

    It appears from some comments that the baby boomers have serious issues,. As Mark said, the boring heretics will grow old and die. I assume that will solve all of the problems.

    • Chris M

      Nope. The heretics we will always have with us. They’ve always been around and always will be. Rebellion against God is as old as.. well.. the species.

  • Sandra Miesel

    A good, sober, and well researched account of how the nuns went crazy is SISTERS IN CRISIS by Ann Carey.
    An interesting question is why sisters formed long before V II radicalized so quickly. The organizing and media manipulation techniques suddenly available in the ’60s gave the most extreme elements within religious orders disproportionate power.

  • Alias Clio

    I’m sure that those who speak of “duck and cover” here are right, as far as they go, but their historical memories seem a bit short (and self-centred) to me. Consider this: someone born in Europe or the Anglosphere in the late 19th century might grow up to fight in WWI. Millions of people died in that conflict. Millions more died in the Russian Revolution. Many millions who didn’t die went to the US, Canada, Argentina, etc. Meanwhile, our soldier comes home from war, marries, has children, and tells them that they should be pacifists, that the old men tricked his generation into war.

    So his children grow up to be pacifists and sign peace pledges. Meanwhile, millions are killed in the USSR and China; fascism begins its rise in Europe (and the only alternative, people are led to think, is the communism killing all those other people). So the children see that they must give up their pacifism and go fight in another war, an even uglier war than WWI in which far more civilians are slaughtered or displaced. (And then there was Berlin; Korea; Suez.) Many of these wretched people wash up, again, in the US. Some of them are Catholics; some of them become parents of children born in the years between 1945-65. The Boomer Years. Some of these Boomer children are Jewish, children or grandchildren of refugees driven out of their homes by pogroms; they become some of the most vocal leaders of the big Boomer political movements.

    So yes, it’s not surprising that Boomers went crazy, but to attribute their craziness to a few “duck and cover” exercises, however alarming these might be, or to the fears generated by Cold War crises, considering that most of these crises were quite soon resolved from the West’s point of view, seems to be a bit of an, er, over-reaction. The children of the 1945-65 years had the memory of horrors far more real and closer to home whispered in their ears by their parents and grandparents. They did many very foolish or even wicked things, but they lost their marbles for good reasons.

  • bob

    Very well put. In particular the point that the “movement” is self limiting. One doesn’t exactly see a burgeoning novitiate among the priestess-wannabes.

  • sibyl

    Just my two cents. I think that many of these graying heretical sisters entered convents in the late 50s and early 60s, at a time when there was a lot of formalism and legalism in the Church (and please don’t yell at me — I also love the pre-Vatican II reverence and beauty of the Mass, but let’s admit that the Church had gotten complacent and in some ways shallow.). I think many of these ladies perhaps didn’t have very effective formation or a very deep understanding of the vocation, and that some were unprepared intellectually to withstand the force of the feminist rhetoric when it came within the walls of the convent. It is telling to me that there were so many hundreds of thousands of sisters before the big cultural shift of the sexual revolution, and that so many left (or worked to redefine) their congregations afterwards.

    To some extent I think we need to take seriously what they say about their sense of wanting power and recognition. It shows how little ongoing orthodox spiritual direction they must have had, and how immature their concept of vocation must have been, to have become so infatuated with almost blatantly Marxist thought.

    • Sophia

      You got one thing right Sibyl when you say ” I think…” What you think doesn’t even come close to being a good educated guess. Don’t talk about things, or people you really don’t know about. And being Catholic doesn’t automatically make you an expert on those who live the consecrated religious life in the Church. That goes for you too Mr. Mark. Instead of making such harsh criticisms of the sisters why don’t you pray for them? Do you even pray? Why don’t you all ask Jesus in prayer what he thinks and what HIS take on the sister is? If you really prayed with an open heart you would be surprised at his answer.

      • Catholic grandma

        Sophia, You have expressed annoyance with the stated views here…why do you think this social dynamic occurred within the Church?

      • Alias Clio

        Sophia: what is the basis of your knowledge that Sibyl’s comment “doesn’t even come close to being a good educated guess?” When you make such charges, you ought to furnish us with your credentials. At the very least, you should indicate the errors you see in Mark’s or Sybyil’s comments on the subject, and refer us to authoritative sources that correct them. As it stands, your comment is little more than a bluster, without substance. How do you know that we are not praying for these nuns, and who has made you an authority on what Jesus would tell us about them? Some comments here are indeed rather uncharitable, but you lose the moral high ground by being rather uncharitable yourself.

      • sibyl

        Sophia, I do apologize. Clearly I offended you with the above comment. You don’t exactly tell me why my comment in particular sparks such ire, but perhaps it is that I say these nuns seem to have had inadequate formation and a somewhat shallow understanding of vocation. Surely this doesn’t mean that these women are all bad, or that they don’t love Jesus, or that they have not done a great deal of concrete good in a broken world. Many nuns spouting fruity theology clearly are good, love Jesus, and do a great deal of good.

        Just to clarify, my point was that the Church of the post-WWII era up until Vatican II perhaps didn’t do a very good job of providing in-depth formation and guidance, since if it HAD, the allure of such a blatantly materialistic and worldly thought-system (Marxist feminism) would not have made such amazing inroads with so many. “Gaining recognition” and “sharing equal power” and “recognition of status” are ALL of them completely foreign to an orthodox concept of the Gospel, and this is so obvious a point that I doubt you need me to quote the dozens of Bible verses or passages from the Fathers or paragraphs from the Catechism. And this is not even to mention the weird and unScriptural ways that some of them (in leadership position) have spoken of and written about God, Christ, the Church (which as you know we hold to be supernaturally constituted rather than constructed by men), and much more.

      • Ted Seeber

        I wasn’t. The answer to my prayer came directly from the LCWR, not from God- and it was horrific. That nuns who dedicate their lives to the poor should embrace killing the children of the poor is a scandal.

  • carlamariee
    Objections to this? I’m from Wisconsin, and Ryan and his crew have made life extremely difficult for the disabled and elderly and others. I’ve seen his plan in action and the sisters are correct to object ( as did the USCB).

    • Charlene

      It isn’t the job of the government to take care of the disable and elderly and others. It is our jobs – they are our brothers and sisters. We can’t just pay our taxes and turn our backs. This isn’t something that government is very good at.

      • carlamariee

        I think it’s “both/and”. We didn’t used to think it was neccessary to have fire departments either. The government does it better than a bucket brigade. I’ve worked in a nursing home. It can be very expensive and intensive to provide the care that some people need. If we are so callous that we would turn our backs on those people, we don’t deserve to survive as a society.

  • denise

    You all sound like your in the dark ages! The nuns just want a voice in the church. I would love to go to mass and hear a woman’s perspective for once. My daughter won’t come with me to mass at times because she feels the church is not reaching out to her. Something is wrong when she notices something is not right! We are all God’s children and we should open our hearts and listen to what the nun’s and all woman are saying. I am tired of only men of the Vatican making all the decisions! Jesus made us all in his own image so everybody is equal. Jesus never just talked to men only when he preached. Everybody should be included in making decisions in the church not just the men. The nuns and woman would make the church better and bring more people to the catholic faith. It would be so wonderful if we all came together with our faith and spread the word and became one UNITED CHURCH! With a sign outside saying ALL ARE WELCOME the same way Jesus did when he was here on earth no judgements just believe in him and have faith and the rest will follow….amen

    • Ted Seeber

      Actually, given what they’re accused of, they specifically do NOT want a voice in the Church of Jesus Christ. They want a voice in the Church of the Ultimate Evolved Human Goddess.