The boys in the Vatican are picking on the sisters again. When I read that the male officials in the Vatican were investigating an organization of 57,113 U. S. nuns, I laughed. It seems the church hierarchy has run out of important issues to focus on like preventing child sexual abuse by priests. Now they must keep busy by investigating an organization of U.S nuns for “serious theological errors.”
As a woman reared by Catholic sisters throughout 13 years of my education, I was intrigued to find out what these errors might be. While the Catholic sisters have been focused on assisting those whose lives are threatened by the effects of poverty, educating children, meeting the health and social service needs of immigrants and other disenfranchised people, and conducting parish ministries, they are being called out for “remaining silent on the right to life.”
It made me smile to think about other things the sisters don’t do, like serving as priests, bishops, or cardinals, or sitting at the tables where important theological matters are discussed. I consider myself a post-denominational Catholic, and like the universities where I am an alum, I am most grateful for what I have learned in these organizations, and for what I am able to use in my present life. I’m especially grateful to the sisters and the lessons they’ve taught me that I have finally mastered. In my younger years, I would become angry with the male leaders of the church over their disrespect and mistreatment of women.
But now I collapse into nearly hysterical laughter when I read that the U.S Bishops’ doctrinal conference offered a formal critique of theologian Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, accusing her of over-emphasizing feminine descriptions of God in her new book. The fact that I am able to laugh shows how far I’ve come. As the sisters’ taught, we must love our enemies and do good to those who would harm us. We must find compassion for those who do not know what the prophecies of First Peoples worldwide have predicted. The Divine Feminine, which has been missing from the altars of churches everywhere, is being returned to a place of prominence and respect.
“I think we scare them, “ Simone Campbell, a lawyer and executive director of NETWORK, the sisters’ lobbying group. Perhaps the real newsflash for the boys in Rome is this; 5000 years of patriarchal rule is ending and we, the women are no longer afraid of you. The sisters have already been re-formed by their deeply spiritual good works, their brilliant educated intellects, and their relationship to God the Mother of us all, who I’m imagining, isn’t very proud of you.