From Reuters (here):
The largest organization of U.S. Catholic nuns on Friday rejected a Vatican assessment that they had fallen under the sway of radical feminism and needed to hand control of their group over to a trio of bishops.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, whose members represent about 80 percent of nuns in the United States, issued a sharp statement calling the Vatican’s rebuke unsubstantiated and “the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.”
The nuns said the Vatican’s report has “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community and created greater polarization.”
Tensions between U.S. nuns and church authorities, both in Rome and in the United States, have been simmering for decades as nuns have taken an increasingly independent and outspoken role in politics and social outreach.
The Leadership Conference has aired frank discussions of issues that deeply discomfit the Vatican, from ministry to gays and lesbians to the patriarchy of church culture. Some nuns have made public calls for the church to relax its stance against contraception; others have worked to ordain women as priests, in ceremonies the Vatican does not recognize as valid.
The Vatican also complained that the nuns have focused attention on social justice issues, such as poverty, and have not spent enough time promoting the church’s view on divisive political questions such as abortion and gay marriage.
To bring the sisters into line, the Vatican announced earlier this spring that it would put the Leadership Conference under the effective control of three bishops, who would have the power to rewrite its statutes, its meeting agendas and even its liturgical texts.
In their response on Friday, announced after three days of discussion and prayer in Washington, D.C., the conference board called the punishment “disproportionate” and said it “could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission.”
The bishop assigned to oversee the conference, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, did not discuss that complaint directly on Friday but issued a statement vowing that he would address both the Vatican’s concerns and the nuns’ response “in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, integrity and fidelity to the Church’s faith.”
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