Kicking the Habit
American nuns are gathering in St. Louis, Mo., this week for their organization's yearly national assembly, where they are expected to discuss the future of their relationship with the Vatican following scathing criticism of the nuns' alleged lack of fidelity to Catholic teachings.
This spring, after a three-year investigation, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog issued a report questioning the organization's loyalty to some Church teachings, including the nuns' lack of outspokenness on issues such as gay marriage, abortion and contraception. Another concern voiced by the Vatican relates to conferences organized by the nuns featuring "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."
So there you have it. The nuns do not think gay marriage is the work of the devil. They understand that abortions are understandable and in some cases, necessary. They do not have a problem with the 97% of Catholic women who use contraception at some point in their lives. And they believe that women can play a more important role in the church than making coffee for the bishop.
Obviously, they have been possessed by demons and will surely spend eternity in hell.
The real issue here is whether Catholicism should be a top-down religion or a bottom-up religion. The Catholic Church has always been a top-down religion, with all dictates flowing from the Vatican through the bishops to the priests and congregations. The Catholic hierarchy likes it that way and is determined to oppose any threat to their authoritarianism. I rejoice that ours is a bottom-up
religion. Our policies are determined by you, the boots on the ground.
The UM is what you make it. Aside from enforcing the rules against spam, profanity and flaming, I pretty much let you guys work it out among yourselves. We affectionately refer to Rev. Hickman as our Chief Executive Janitor. If anybody ever referred to him as "your Holiness", he would probably throw something at them.
Personally, I'm rooting for the nuns. They are the ones who have daily contact with their congregations and make their religion responsive to the needs of the people. And after all, a church is not a building, a dogma or a hierarchy. A church is people coming together for worship and service. To me, they are the ones who should decide the direction of the church, not some politician holed up in his own private country.
But that's just me.