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Those Crazy Old Vatican Men

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A prominent American nun writes a theology textbook advocating for the moral and theological licitness of same-sex marriage and female masturbation, and for a view of marriage and divorce that contradicts Catholic doctrine. The Vatican takes two years to investigate, and finally gets around to condemning the book.  The New York Times features the story prominently on its website, because, I suppose, it’s really super-crazy that the Vatican’s doctrinal office would say that a nun’s textbook promoting this stuff is morally inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Hide your kids, hide your wife, the Inquisition is back!

Do you know what those latter-day Torquemadas are doing to that poor old nun? Nothing. Seriously, not a thing. The newspaper quotes the Vatican spokesman as saying that the nun will suffer no sanctions from this action (PDF of the Vatican’s statement here). Yet for the Times, this is one more example of the Vatican using American nuns as scapegoats to distract from its own problems. At least that’s what it seems like to me, from this bit:

The statement said Pope Benedict XVI had approved its contents and ordered its publication. It comes as the Vatican struggles to contain a controversy over leaked documents that showed infighting and mismanagement in the papacy of Benedict XVI, who on Sunday concluded a three-day meeting in Milan to promote family values.

What does the Vatileaks scandal have to do with this nun story? In other news, I reheated leftover snap beans for dinner tonight as Venus prepared to transit the sun.  I guess it makes sense to the Times reporters and editors, who have been on a real tear against the Catholic Church lately. Reporter Laurie Goodstein, who co-wrote this latest story, repeated in her piece the other day the “American nuns are being picked on by the Vatican for no good reason” story line without any quotes offering a dissenting perspective. Funnily enough, the nun at the center of today’s story, has tangled with the Vatican before, as the UK’s Catholic Herald newspaper notes:

Sister Farley has been no stranger to controversy during her career as a Catholic theologian.

She was among two dozen US women religious threatened with expulsion from their religious communities by the Vatican for signing on to an October 7 1984 advert in The New York Times arguing that Catholics should be free to hold a variety of views about abortion.

Archbishop Pio Laghi, then papal pro-nuncio to the United States, and now-retired Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco withdrew as speakers at a 1985 meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious because Sister Farley was also scheduled to speak.

The LCWR is, as you know, the US nuns’ group whom the Vatican’s investigators just reprimanded for, among other things, embracing and promoting doctrines opposed to Catholic teaching — including radical feminist perspectives.

Imagine that: the Vatican expecting Roman Catholic nuns to teach Roman Catholicism. Will those crazy old men of the Vatican stop at nothing? I hope you’re happy, Vatican! Now poor Mrs. Dowd’s daughter Maureen has to stay up late to rehash the same old crap write her next column.

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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