Gary Wills Writes about Religious Sisters at ‘New York Review of Books’

The always eloquent, if at times controversial, historian and author Gary Wills has written a reflection on Catholic Religious Women over at the New York Review of Books that is heartfelt and direct, expressing his take on the recent report from the Vatican’s dicastery that deals with doctrine (the CDF) on the LCWR (leadership conference of women religious). His short piece, titled “Bullying the Nuns,” includes his personal experience of sisters that had made an indelible impact on his life for the better. He laments the move on the part of the CDF and struggles to make sense of the recent formal engagement the Vatican has had with a schismatic group known as the Society of Saint Pius X, while at the same time publicly chiding many women religious in the United States. Whether you agree with his take or not, he offers some food for thought and a personal testimony worth considering. Here are some excerpts:

The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops’ thinking. That statement is profoundly true. Thank God, they don’t. Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops. The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility…

Anne O’Connor was just the kind of nun the Vatican is now intent on punishing. She had been a social worker before she became a nun, work that she loved and went back to several times as a Dominican. She was quick to shed the old habit (which was designed to disguise the fact that there was a woman somewhere in that voluminous disguising of hair, breasts, and hips), and quick to take back her own name. After she took on several high offices in her order, she became the mother provincial of the California branch of the Dominican order during the 1960s, coping with the changes of that volatile era on her college campuses.

Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist). Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement. They ran soup kitchens…

To read more, go here.

Photo: File
About these ads

4 Responses to “Gary Wills Writes about Religious Sisters at ‘New York Review of Books’”

  1. daveorsborn Says:

    The assessment is a criticism of the LCWR and shouldn’t be mistaken as a criticism of individual religious or even all orders. The LCWR does not represent all religious- certainly not Mother Assumpta’s order. Her take is found here: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/doctrinal-assessment-of-the-lcwr-safeguarding-the-integrity-of-consecrated/.

    Wills makes awesome generalizations- “The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility…”.

    An argument that starts on such shaky ground is hardly worthy of much consideration.

    • Dave–I had a similar response to the generalization you quoted in the article above. The author is not eloquent in the least with such statements. I am much more impressed by the charitable way that Fr. Jim Martin, S.J. has brought attention to the outstanding work of sisters without going on the offensive. My faith was formed by the loving example of the sisters who taught at the Catholic School I attended as a child.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Dan

  3. Fr. Michael Smith Says:

    Dan: Here is another take, this time by John Allen:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/notes-lcwr-overhaul

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 714 other followers

%d bloggers like this: