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Southern Religion

The struggle of women religious

Southern Baptist women are not alone in facing oppressive denominational strategies. The Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley’s Sister Sandra Schneiders writes for the National Catholic Reporter:

When the Vatican investigation of U.S. women religious was announced some months ago without any preparation, consultation, or even the courtesy of a notification to congregational leaders that it was about to happen, many people, religious and laity alike, were stunned at what seemed like a surprise attack aimed at a most unlikely target, given the massive and unaddressed problems besetting the clergy and hierarchy at the moment.

She could not be more clear about what this apostolic visitation means:

Many people, including many religious, think this investigation is an unprecedented assault on religious. Its scope may be unprecedented but its content certainly is not. Many, perhaps most, religious congregations in this country have in their archives documents and correspondence chronicling equally or even more serious confrontations between their order and the local ecclesiastical authorities. (I suggest “Topic 11” in the excellent CD course, “The History of Women Religious in the United States,” by Margaret S. Thompson in the Now You Know Media Series, for archival documentation on this point.)

These records, going back decades or even centuries, tell of threats and intimidation to enforce conscience-violating policies or practices (such as racial discrimination) instigated by members of the hierarchy, drastic sanctions for non-subordination to clergy in matters over which the clerics had no jurisdiction, demotion and even permanent exile without due process of lawfully elected and even revered superiors (including founders), appointment without election of compliant puppet governments, interference in appointments of sisters, unilateral closing of institutions, forced acceptance of apostolates not appropriate to the congregation, and even outright theft of financial assets, to name only the most egregious examples.

More about which, later. Meanwhile, we recommend the entire entry to you here.

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January 7, 2010 - Posted by | Catholic, Religion, SBC | , ,

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