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The Real Nun Victims

The news media have been filled with breast-beating accounts of the horrendous suffering radical Catholic nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) have been enduring lately, given the Vatican’s recent directive reining them in and expecting them to be, you know, Catholic. Father Brendan Buckley, a Capuchin, wrote to a friend highlighting the real nun victims in this controversy — the kind of nuns whose stories the MSM aren’t interested in telling. I publish it here with his permission:

A sister who taught me many years ago wrote me a while back what she was feeling about how things were moving in her order (Dominicans). She was distraught over the fact that those sisters who continued to believe what the church teaches were ignored or abused. Though I no longer have the letter, she said something that I will never forget. She said that they were treated in the same way that the leadership treated the relics that used to be in their convents… they were pushed aside or discarded. It broke my heart to think that these wonderful sisters were treated in this way by their leadership. The price for fidelity to the church was a modern form of shunning. Now the left is trying to pretend that it is the leadership that is being abused when, in fact, many in leadership have been the abusers. Nobody seems to care about those wonderful sisters who gave all in faith and have paid a drastic price at the hands of their own sisters who were and are in leadership positions.

My main problems with the Vatican over the LCWR decision are two. The first is that they are thirty years too late. So many of those poor sisters are now deceased, victims of systemic abuse of power by their leadership. The second is related… since they waited so long they might as well have just done nothing at this point since the LCWR represents religious congregations that are dying out… just let them die off already. In twenty or twenty five years they will all be gone. They have had no vocations for 30 years. After all, what young woman would want to join a group of angry sisters? They have, in effect, put themselves out of business. Just let them go.

The other part of the story is that those congregations that are faithful are thriving, like the Dominican Sisters of Mary and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. They are thriving because they are happy serving the Lord and that happiness is contagious.

In the end, the Church will be fine. It will be smaller and it will undergo some serious suffering, but it will be fine.

The real nun victims here are not the LCWR radicals. The real victims are the faithful nuns who ought to have been protected and defended by the Vatican three decades ago, when the radicals who had no regard for the Roman Catholic faith were beginning their long and destructive march through the institutions. Anyway, as Father Buckley observes, nothing the Vatican can or will do at this point will matter as much to those faithless nuns as the deliberate and irrevocable judgment of time.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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