It should come as no surprise that Catholicism stands as one of the most internally conflicted religions of the bunch, and while it does boast its die-hard fans, I respectfully say this as a once die-hard Catholic. According to national polls, if “Ex-Catholic” were its own denomination, it would serve as the United State’s third largest religion. Among the intermittent scattering of its followers’ beliefs, viewpoints and opinions, the Catholic Church is undoubtedly balancing on one side of a very wobbly seesaw.

What’s on the other side? An overwhelmingly large group of virgin women who are told they shouldn’t consume birth control to manage incurable medical conditions, homosexuals who are told that their form of love is an abomination and many, many others alike – all who have ultimately contributed to a sharp decline in the percentage of American Catholics.

In this month’s issue of the Rolling Stone in an excellently written feature by Mark Binelli titled “The Sisters Crusade,” readers are thrown into a world of radical nuns trying to take Jesus back from the pope and the GOP. It’s truly a “suck-you-in” story depicting abnormal morals and complete and utter chaos which would probably make every traditional Catholic shriek.

Personally, I agreed with most of what this group of women stood for, and not just because of the awe and irony of their old-aged but pure liberalization and raw “won’t-back-down” attitude. At first glance, you’d think one of the nuns was off to the local mart to gather ingredients for your favorite oatmeal raisin cookies – that is, until you realize she had previously escorted a young woman into an abortion clinic.

Another is dressed as though she had just attended her grandson’s football game; donning a crisp, green windbreaker and a white, thermal turtleneck tucked under a signature grandma sweater – that is, until you see her hands cuffed behind her back being led by a policeman.

“The term ‘liberal nun’ must sound like an oxymoron if you’re stuck on the stereotype of wimpled Nurse Ratcheds terrorizing school kids with the flat ends of their rulers,” Binelli says, “But ever since the 1960’s, nuns like Sister Campbell, relatively powerless within the confines of the male-dominated church, have tended to thrive at the grassroots level, where they have room to shape their own ministries…On issues ranging from gay rights to abortion, the nuns are either openly contradicting church dogma or quietly undermining it with their silence…”

Campbell, a 67-year old executive director of a group of progressive Catholic nuns called Network, has met with Rep. Paul Ryan before he was chosen as Mitt Romney’s second-hand man. As a member of a quickly growing movement, she was all but shunned by him.

‘He wanted to convince me he’s really bright, and to prove he’s right. This was not a relational meeting. None of my efforts to worm my way under the wall were successful,” recounts Campbell.

Deny all you may like, but could it very well be that these pro-choice, pro-gay nuns represent a significantly large portion of today’s Catholic Church as a whole? “Never mind that the overwhelming majority of Catholics support many of the views espoused by the nuns, and yearn for a far-ranging reformation of the church,” Binelli notes, citing one recent study – among the many – that revealed 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women in the U.S. to have used some form of contraception.

“It’s impossible to overstate how threatened the church’s conservative male hierarchy feels by this display of sisterly opposition,” Binelli explains, adding that just last April, the Vatican proudly issued a ‘doctrinal assessment’ that sternly condemned the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) for ‘radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.’

The only problem, however, is that the LCWR represents about 80 percent of all nuns in the United States.

Many believe that picking or choosing what to believe or act upon is wrong, and even in some cases, an easy way out. For instance, the forecasted 40 percent of US citizens who voluntarily chose not to vote this election season were immediately pinned as unpatriotic and even so far as lazy. Religion, however, inevitably crosses new territory. It may all come down to submission. Many of us believe the world owes us something when in actuality – if you are a Christian – you know this to be false. Perhaps this is where selective choosing becomes blurry.
Whether it’s right or wrong to formulate your own concoction of religious beliefs, you have to respect the fact that what these women are fighting for represents something they deeply believe in. Fighting for something you whole-heartedly believe is always worth more than sitting by the sidelines complacently – not to mention many believe it’s harder to consciously decide not to do something than it is to simply do it.
Whether this makes a person right or wrong cannot be determined.

2 Comments

  1. Well written Ali, you know I love you. But, I must say…not one of these women were forced into the religious order they joined. They chose to be there. They chose to go into the service of the Church. If I didn’t agree with the major beliefs of a Church, I simply wouldn’t be part of it, let alone join an order dedicated to serving it (especially since so much sacrifice is involved).

  2. I think there has to be an understood difference, Kristina, between church hierarchy and Church. the Church is the body of christ…the hierarchy is an esoteric aristocracy…and that’s an objective fact. the reality is that the holy spirit moves in all of us, not just the pope. did I cringe reading that a nun escorted a woman into an abortion clinic? yes…I can’t, for the life of me, picture Jesus condoning that. but I just think it’s important to note that these nuns, many of whom are pro-life which seems to be swept under the rug, and not just these nuns but all catholics should be able to think and feel freely about moral issues. one of the most judgmental terms I have ever heard is “cafeteria catholic.” it really puts pressure on people to allow themselves to be spoonfed truth, instead of arriving at it through their own investigation

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