The New York Times
Colleen Carroll Campbell is a columnist for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a former presidential speechwriter and the author of “My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir,” which will be published in October.
June 12, 2012
Catholic religious sisters as a group are rightly revered for their faith and good works. If the Vatican were bullying them, or criticizing their organizations without cause, such moves would and should backfire.
But that’s not what’s going on. Contrary to the prevailing news media narrative about do-gooder nuns persecuted by mean old grumps in Rome, the Vatican’s recent moves to discipline dissident religious sisters are not groundless reprimands or patriarchal power grabs. Nor are they intended to paint all American religious sisters with the same broad brush.
Both the Vatican’s proposed reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its rebuke of a controversial book written by the theologian Sister Margaret Farley are targeted critiques intended to fulfill one of the Catholic hierarchy’s most vital functions: defense of the deposit of faith. That defense necessarily entails public clarification about what does and does not constitute authentic Catholic teaching.