Question: What’s unified, sanctified, and dignified?
Answer: A thoroughly badass group of American nuns.
If you would have told me last week that I would draw female empowerment inspiration from a situation involving the Catholic Church, I might have spit out my food (however, I would then pick it up off the floor and eat it anyway). But, when a powerful and sizeable contingent of American nuns told the Vatican to suck it (I am paraphrasing), I almost signed up to be Catholic again just to support the ladies from the inside.
This spring, the Vatican reprimanded the nuns– based on “unsubstantiated” information gathered through a process that wasn’t transparent (raise your hand if this shocks you)– for failing to adhere to and uphold the Church’s doctrines. Specifically, these rogue nuns were (1) in favor of Obama’s heath care reform, despite the reform’s position on abortion; and (2) allegedly failed to focus sufficiently on the Church’s doctrine that opposes same-sex marriage. The nuns’ focus: poverty and the economically disenfranchised. Read about the Vatican’s reprimand here.
Where do those nuns get off focusing on poverty and economic injustice– in the middle of a recession no less?
But enough about the Vatican, which probably has its hands full harboring priests who molest children. Let’s talk about the nuns.
They recently responded to the allegations, after taking some quiet time (6 weeks), which culminated in a meeting to pray together and discern the best course of action. The result of the meeting is that they have requested that the Vatican engage in a dialogue about the issues– the nuns recently issued this statement.
Here’s why I love this story:
1. Six Weeks of Silence: Something about the 6 weeks that elapsed between the public criticism and the nuns’ public response just gets me. When I am wrongly (or rightly for that matter) accused, I take about 6 nanoseconds before I fly off the flipping handle. I come out swinging, and I come out defensive and hostile. And I usually come out alone. Not so this group of super sisters. They took their time, they prayed, they discerned. To me, their actions conjure the word “grace.”
2. Unity: I love the unity among the nuns. Surely it’s a disparate group of women– just because they all agreed to take a vow of poverty and forego sexual intercourse for this lifetime, doesn’t mean they are a monolithic group. Some work in schools, some serve as CEOs of hospitals, and some work in direct services to the very poor they are criticized for focusing on. But, they stand together. It’s a great example of female strength and unity.
It’s easy for me to focus on the failings of the Vatican; I am literally twitching to go off about it now. But today I am going to focus on the nuns and the example they have set for me: a little quiet (not my strength), a little discernment, and a sober, thoughtful response to outrageous allegations. I swear I kind of hope someone accuses me of something today so I invoke my inner nun and gracefully respond.