Pope Francis has backed the Vatican’s doctrinal crackdown on a major group of American nuns, reasserting the Roman Catholic Church’s conservative approach to various social issues in a move that could cool the warm reception he has received from some liberal Catholics since taking office last month.
The Vatican said in a statement Monday that Francis had reaffirmed the doctrinal evaluation and criticism of U.S. nuns made last year by the Holy See under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The assessment accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization that represents most U.S. female Catholic orders, of promoting “radical feminist themes” and ignoring the Vatican’s hard line on same-sex marriage and abortion…
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious represents about 57,000 sisters, or 80% of U.S. nuns.
On Monday, officials from the conference met with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…Mueller reminded conference officials that organizations such as theirs “are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See,” the Vatican’s statement said, and that Francis had “reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform” prescribed for the nuns.
Kenneth Briggs, the author of a book about the Vatican’s clash with U.S. nuns, said Francis’ backing of the Holy See’s unyielding line was “a major blow” to prospects for more dialogue.
“It seems like the Vatican has put a more appealing salesman in charge of the same old product,” Briggs said.
Being out-of-date and irrelevant is, after all, perfectly acceptable behavior to many religious old geezers who fear women, equal opportunity, democracy and progress.