Vatican Rebukes American Nuns for “Radical” Views

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com April 19 2012 9:10 AM ET

The Vatican reprimanded the largest group of nuns in the United States on Wednesday, saying the sisters had promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” and remained too “silent” on same-sex marriage.

The New York Times reports on the results of an investigation against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that began in 2008 by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The conference is based in Silver Spring, Maryland and represents about 57,000 sisters, the vast majority of women in the country’s religious orders.

In its assessment, the Vatican claimed the nuns had “serious doctrinal problems” and failed to submit to bishops, the “authentic teachers” of the church, on issues including the male-only priesthood, homosexuality, and the health care overhaul, which the Catholic social justice lobby Network supported. Network, founded by nuns, was specifically cited in the report for focusing too much on poverty and economic injustice while staying “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Cardinal William Levada, the former San Francisco archbishop who now leads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, has appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead reforms of the nuns’ conference. Changes will include revision of the group’s statutes, replacement of a handbook used by the nuns, and approval of every speaker at their public programs, according to the Times.

The Vatican has also ordered a separate investigation of all American congregations for religious sisters, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The results of the inquiry have not been released at this time.