There has been a recent, and, to me, fascinating back and forth between American nuns and Rome about how much Catholics should emphasize care for the poor in the public discourse, as opposed to focusing on being anti-birth control, anti-gay marriage, anti-ordination of women, and anti-abortion.
Now, I'm not Catholic. So I'm treading oh so lightly here. But I simply do not get a Pope saying that nuns should focus less on the poor. That is really, really strange to me. And because of the history of the Catholic Church with women and with American Catholics, generally... I can't help but wonder if this is a smack down of a group of uppity American women.
After coming out with a scathing review that specifically accuses the organization of promoting "radical feminism," Rome has now placed 3 male surrogates in charge of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (American nuns).
The response from the pretty clearly unrepentant group was to go on a bus tour protesting the conservative Paul Ryan Budget, which cuts a wide swath out of governmental aid to the poor.
In some ways the nuns performed a modern-day miracle. Their moral authenticity transformed apathy and cynicism into hope and joy. They spoke against the immorality of the Ryan budget cuts and presented an alternative—the Faithful Budget—that asks us all to do our fair share. They made it clear in visits to charities that government funding and faith-based efforts are not opposed to each other but rather if you hurt one, you wound the other. And they heard stories of lost jobs and homes and lack of health insurance—stories that “break your heart,” according to Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK who organized the tour.
As word of the tour spread, crowds grew and the nuns were embraced as they stepped off the bus. Signs read: “We love our sisters,” “Keep up the good work,” “Nuns rock!”, “The church needs nun sense not Vatican nonsense.” Balloons saying “hope” soared in the air.
Here's how NPR summarized the back and forth, and their interview with Sister Pat Farrell...
One nun has gone so far as to call the actions by Rome a "hostile takeover":
Now, I'm pretty solidly on the nuns' side. What do you think?