New Orleans In the fall from grace of one institution after another, religious bodies have been on a steady decline for a generation. No institution claims more members and fills less pews now that the Catholic Church on any given Sunday, nor has any outfit taken more of a licking in the public perception. The inability to effectively manage the staff at the boundary lines between practice and principle has led to some dioceses declaring bankruptcy, multi-million dollar damage settlements, and a general uneasiness about how faith and flock have been stewarded by priests. Couple all of that with a rigid hierarchy that seems committed to resisting change, pushing back the clock, some verifiable degree of misogyny, and a hardening attack on the victims of priestly misconduct and venerable institutions like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and anything that still carries the torch of the Church’s long historic leadership in the fight for social justice.
What’s to be done? Finally, it has become crystal clear. It’s time to leave the church and follow the nuns!
Needless to say, it’s not just that we don’t read about horrific abuse of children by the nuns and gazillion dollar settlements based on the miscreants among them. Nor should we follow them simply because they are under wholesale attack by the Church fathers in Rome for doctrinal division. We should follow them, because they are right.
Especially, this Network outfit, a Washington-based Catholic social justice gang of nuns under assault by the Vatican. They have been accused essentially of paying too much attention to social and economic justice issues and not enough to toeing the line for the patriarchy on bashing homosexuals and their marriage aspirations and allowing the Church to control the wombs of the women in the parishes. The Network is on a bus trip around the US trying to expose the pain being wronged by federal budget cuts and their erosion of protections and entitlements for the poor. Isn’t that exactly what you would hope women and men religious would do?
Ann McCoy of Des Moines a member of St. Ambrose Cathedral there was quoted in the Associated Press after hearing the Network nuns speak this way:
They want to bully these nuns and shut them down…They’re women of courage. Back in the Old Testament they talked about prophets. A prophet is somebody who speaks for God and these are the things that God talked about: injustice, the poor, the marginalized, women…. Well, I think the sisters are walking the walk and talking the talk, and that’s what’s important to us.
Maybe the Church needs to listen carefully to its members like Ms. McCoy. I’m not part of that church, but where these nuns lead, I would gladly follow!