More Than 50 Protest Treatment of Nuns

By Mark Boxley
The Courier-Journal
May 8, 2012|newswell|text|Home|s

Dolores Delahanty takes part in a silent vigil Tuesday on the front steps of the Cathedral of the Assumption

[with video]

When more than 50 laypeople took to the steps of Cathedral of the Assumption on Tuesday, they had one message in mind: "We are all nuns."

The group gathered at 5 p.m. for a silent prayer vigil to support the nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which has recently been the focus of what vigil participants called a Vatican investigation.

In a statement concerning the Women Religious, the Vatican said that while lauding sisters' historic work in education and on behalf of the poor, the conference had allowed influential members and speakers at its meetings to undercut, without challenge, core church doctrines on sexuality, the nature of Jesus and the male-only priesthood.

The statement said some conference speakers have consistently remained silent on opposing abortion and that members have expressed ambivalence about celebrating Mass at some women's gatherings, since that requires the leadership of a male priest.

The Rev. James Flynn, a retired Roman Catholic priest, said it was unfair for the Vatican to single out the Women Religious, especially considering the good work the conference has done over the years.

"I feel (the nuns) are being beleaguered," he said.

Individuals taking part in the vigil were "concerned about what the church is doing to women who have done so many things for so many people," Flynn said.

Flynn said the members of the Women Religious have been teachers, hospital workers, helped the poor, gathered food and clothes for those in need, and focused on other social justice movements. Those actions are the crux of the issue, he said.

"Because they've been accenting so much their concerns for the poor, the disenfranchised and some people in the church want them to be more focused on church issues, as they determine them," Flynn said.

Helen Deines, the organizer of Tuesday's vigil which will be an ongoing event every Tuesday on the steps of Cathedral of the Assumption during May was quick to point out that the goal of the gathering was to support the Women Religious, not protest the church.

"(The vigil) is not anti anything," she said. "We would like, simply, Women Religious all over the country to feel our support, our solidarity."

The teachings of the nuns have affected countless lives, including Deines', she said.

"Unfailingly, they opened their doors," she said. "Unfailingly, they treated everyone the same way."

Participants in the vigil stood silently after an opening prayer holding signs emblazoned with sayings such as, "In 2012, we are all nuns," "The 99-percent support the sisters," and "Stop persecuting our nuns."

The simple fact that so many laypeople would commit to take part in the silent vigils for the entire month says a lot about how everyday people feel about the Vatican's actions, Flynn said.

"We are disappointed that (the Women Religious) are being investigated when they've done such great work," he said. "I think (the turnout) speaks volumes, because (participants) see the value the sisters have been to our state, our country."


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