Often the goals were laudable, but they were striven for at the cost of the foundational construct that makes monasticism what it is. So today a nun can say that she knows what the orthodox opinion is (repeated for aeons in the Tradition of the Church), but believe that she knows better. I can no more imagine any Orthodox nun I have ever met saying this than imagine an Orthodox convent with a highly developed space program with aims on a lunar landing.
The current Pope of Rome acknowledged that his church will be a smaller and stronger organization in the future. He has rejected the idea that numbers matter as a benchmark of health and fidelity to the goals of the Church. It's safe to assume that many of the women religious in this country will break away individually or in groups, and there's no way to avoid it. Sometimes the ties that bind are so tenuous that any strain will sever the connection. So be it.
(NY Times) - Re “Nuns on the Frontier,” by Anne M. Butler (Op-Ed, May 16):
The account of the Vatican’s edict reprimanding American nuns for their liberal views on political and social issues is a stirring reminder of the courage and activism of American nuns.
Between 1971 and 1975 I taught in a college with one such nun I greatly admire. She was instrumental in the formation of the college, which served a primarily African-American population in Brooklyn, and in forming one of the first Harlem-based storefront schools for children.
I remember being startled one afternoon when a group of college faculty members were discussing reproductive rights, and Sister Ruth firmly stated her belief in a woman’s right to choose. She said she thought abortion should be legal and accessible.
I am not Roman Catholic, and Sister Ruth was the first nun I had ever met. I said: “Didn’t you take a vow of obedience? Don’t you have to oppose abortion rights?” She answered: “The church can tell me where to go and what to do, and I will obey. But no one can tell me what to think.”
I greatly admire the liberal, progressive nuns who are willing to take principled stands because they think for themselves. They are role models for all of us.