US 'Radical' Nuns to Hold Vatican Talks over Criticism

BBC News
June 11, 2012

The nuns and their supporters have organised vigils outside US churches

Leaders of the largest group of US nuns are due to meet Vatican officials in a bid to defuse an escalating row.

A Vatican report in April accused the nuns of adopting "certain radical feminist themes" and of ignoring official church teaching.

Nuns from the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, say they have been unjustly criticised.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said they hoped to forge a "mutual understanding" with the nuns.

"Obviously there is a hope for a positive usefulness for all parties, for the Church and the persons involved, and for the orders of nuns," he told reporters.

Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference, will meet Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrine office and a former Archbishop of San Francisco. She will also meet the bishop charged with overseeing a Vatican-backed overhaul of the group.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says that despite the Vatican's hopes for "constructive" talks, the nuns have so far shown little desire for compromise.

They are understandably hurt, he says, at being told to mend their ways by the Vatican at a time when the US Church has lost credibility over sexual abuse scandals involving priests.

The nuns also know they have the support of many ordinary Catholics in the US, who have been organising vigils outside churches, he adds.

The Vatican report accused the Leadership Conference of taking positions on issues ranging from homosexuality to the all-male priesthood that undermined Catholic teaching.

It proposed replacing the group's leadership with three bishops that would have the authority to rewrite the organisation's statutes, meeting agendas and liturgical texts.

The nuns said the report has "caused scandal and pain throughout the Church community and created greater polarisation".


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.