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On Point

Today on NPR, I paid special attention to the show On Point. During the two-hour show today Hour 1 discussed the current conflict in Honduras. Hour 2 talked about the recent NY Times article by Laurie Goodstein titled "U.S. Nuns Facing Vatican Scrutiny." Both of these topics were of significant interest to me since I have friends and family in Honduras as well as friends and family who are U.S. nuns.The language about the Vatican "reining in" these alleged "loose cannon" nuns seems a little extreme to me but it is important for the Vatican to be paying attention the dwindling numbers of women signing up to join religious communities and to see what everyone is up to. Many different nuns have played significant roles in my life and I am grateful for all of the perspectives they have offered me and for the broad education they have provided.

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



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Fr. James Martin SJ has posted a few things on the nuns visitation at America magazine's blog. One interesting link he gave was to a published email on the subject by Sr. Sandra M. Schneiders, professor emerita at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley - We've given birth to a new form of religious life.

And scan a few of the 400+ comments to the NYT piece. Overwhelming support for the sisters. Interesting to ponder who decides who's a "loose cannon," too. And while I'm at it, who picked the head of the visitation, and, more importantly, by what process and using what criteria? The Instrumentum laboris, presuming someone will be kind enough to publish it or leak it, will speak volumes, as did that text for the seminary visitation.

I think that this is a great thread -actually two threads, as most discussion here settles on the Pope's encyclical and the Obama meeting with him.In a way, these threads tie to that topic, because the credibility issue of Church leadership is affected. Certainly in a big way, given the many (and often) angry responses to the "visitation" of the nuns, many calling for a visitation of the cvureia instead -by religioous women!Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal has a lengthy piece noting the issue and ties ti the exhibit at a Cincinnati musum decicated to a history of the good work of religious women here.Clearly there are issues of justice(and charity and truth) in this whole process!The Honduras matter is something else. It appears that the US Stae Dept, has backed off calling for a restoration in Honduras and emphasized a mediation of the dispute.Today's NCR has a long piece that 7 American SOA members, including Fr. Bourgoius have arrived there and are looking into the actions of School of America graduates there in past possible misdeeds.The Bishop of Tegucigalpa has warned about a possible "bloodbath" if restoration attempts occur, but the article seems to tie him to the old School of the Americas.I think we could use some informed comentray on not only what's happening on the ground currently, but also , historically, has the hierarchy there been generally tied to the privleged or the majority of the people.Which gets us back to the issue of justice and the Pope's encyclical.

Lisa, unfortunately, I suspect that some good clues to the criteria that might be used in the Visitation, or at least a sense of where the whole thing is focused, can be found in the presentations by Cardinal Franc Rode and Sister Sara Butler at a conference last year at Stonehill College. Rocco posted the links after the conference.

First, thanks to John Page for the link to the neat article on aging nuns in today's Times.I mmediately thought of the late Sr. Dorothy Ann kelly who dies suddenly during this last year and her vast contributiuons across the education field. I thought of several other Ursulines who passed in this past year at advanced age, who gave all they could as long as they could. We continue our support of them.I think they represent the way most folks who have ben touched by religious women in our country see the sisters, and not the way the curial Cardinal or the religious woman professor at a Seminary with 18 men studying for the prioesthood in one of the largest diocese in the US see's just another part of the divide across the Church.What's problematic is the isue of how power is used to bring folks into line!That approach again impinges strongly on the issue of credibility!

By the way, Fr. Martin, that chronicler of sanctity, has apiece at the America blog aptly titled, "Pope hopes Excommunicated Nun Becomes a Saint."Worth a read.

Sorry to post so much, but the new "Extra,Extra" thread contains quite germane comments by Robert White on the US and Honduras situation.But what of the Church there?

I have many friends who are sisters, so I say this with great care and love. The reality is that religious life for women will for all intents in purposes pretty much disappear in 20 years. With all due respect to Sister Sandra, I fear that the new bith has been still-born. Her and many others' idea of religious life today may sound great on paper but no one is joining (or the numbers that are are tiny). Also, I know several sisters who are quite happy with this vistation and their only criticism is that it is a happening 30 years too late.

More notes on outrage against the visitation, Francis X. Clines in the times and Brett in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.The authors (and I) think that the lives of selflerssness lived by the nuns talked about there are shining examples of faith -what they're supposed to be!Whether others will follow their way will depend on the call of the Spirit, the genrosity of response, and not a return to the past driven by a view seen by many as chauvanistic.The role of women in the Church will continue to evolve, just as it has in the world and going back is going nowhere.

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