The Vatican thinks that nuns are wasting their time on human rights and social work — you know, typical helpful nun stuff.
Instead, the Catholic Church wants America’s nuns to spend more time doing things that don’t typically help people, like telling them not to have premarital sex, according to USA Today.
That group of nuns — the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — has shot back at the Vatican, and is planning to protest in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on Tuesday. They want Cardinal Timothy Dolan to ask the Vatican to take back this criticism.
What caused this schism between nuns and church leadership?
In an assessment published in April, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that nuns were too “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death” and didn’t promote “Church teaching” of reproductive health issues.
To better understand what this means, a bit of context is necessary. The conference — which represents 80 percent, or 57,000 U.S. nuns — was formed 56 years ago, at the request of the Catholic Church.
At that time, the Vatican wanted “a unified voice” for U.S. nuns who helped the poor, nursed the sick, taught students, worked as missionaries, and fought violence, USA Today notes.
April’s assessment, however, criticized conference members as “radical” feminists for failing to condemn things such as gay marriage and birth control. The condemnation pretty much means that a church HQ appointee will take over the organization.
At first, nuns mostly reacted with surprise. Many felt that their vows of obedience prevent them from openly protesting church policy.
They quickly changed tactics: They now say that the church’s mandate is just a move to avoid addressing longstanding concerns over child molestation, and have since organized an online petition to rally support for sisters nationwide. So far, there are some 48,000 signatures.
This is not the first time in recent months that select members of America’s Catholic leadership have openly dissented with Vatican teachings. Remember that in February, a group of liberal Catholics came out in defense of Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services’ birth control compromise.
The Voice has reached out to the Archdiocese of New York and the conference for comment. We’ll update when we hear back.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.