Monday, September 14, 2009

Kicking the Habit

So the Vatican is doing an internal review in the United States. Reviewing what?

First thoughts: Child molestation, rampant homophobia, misogyny and racism.

No? No takers?

Nope. The Catholic Church is doing its first ever major review of… nuns?

They are conducting a “large-scale review of women's religious institutions in the United States, the first of its kind in history.”

My next thought turned optimistic, thinking that perhaps the Church was interested in re-examining the role womyn play in Catholicism and as nuns in particular.

They are examining this exact thing, but are hoping to step back, rather than forward, on the issue. Basically, the Church thinks that nuns have “stepped away” from the Church, are not living in communities (i.e.: convents) as often as they should be and are living “secular” lives. The goal is to put together a report that will bring 21st century nuns back to their roots of being in habit, living in convents and living a “stricter” religious life.

Having grown up Catholic and having actually attended a non-private, Catholic school run by nuns (which included a convent within the school), I have an educated opinion on nuns. I do not begrudge anyone’s choice to join the Convent. In the most objective sense, the life of a nun is one of serving. Churches and religions of all kinds have typically stepped up to help the homeless for example and many, many charities are religiously-run. The Salvation Army is religious, after all. Nuns also serve(d) as school teachers and work(ed) in hospitals. Hey, Mother Theresa was a nun, let us not forget.

HOWEVER, they are always serving someone. And they are always below someone else. Nuns serve the Church and the Church is run by men. Therefore, the “vocation” of nunnery is inherently sexist. In Catholicism, womyn hold no position of powers that rival those of men. Not to mention that being a nun means agreeing to the homophobia, racism and sexism of Catholicism. (I am stating this in the assumption that one chooses to be a nun. I am excluding those who are forced into religious life, obviously. That’s a whole other picture to paint).

So on one hand, I think it is unfair for me to pick on one individual nun, but I also don’t think it’s fair to let all nuns off the hook either. If you’re promoting hate, then you’re promoting hate.

BUT! I think it goes without saying that if anyone should be undergoing a review, its priests, cardinals and actual leaders in the Vatican. To say that the Church is in need of a review and to ignore the blindingly obvious issues and choosing instead to focus on the American nuns is shady and so indicative of how out-of-touch the Church really is. In case you needed any more proof that the Church is sexist and misguided and in need of an overhaul, this review is it.

The report, compiled by a Sister, will be submitted to the Vatican in 2011. It is up to the Vatican (read: male leaders) discretion on how to move forward after the report is compiled.

Who knows, maybe the nuns will do a preemptive strike and revolt. One can always dream...


Making !T Work said...

As usual very well presented. Good work.

Yve! said...

I live surrounded by nuns, the house almost directly behind mine is a nunnery and its for the older nuns in the 'hood. They spent the summer getting reno's done on their kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor porches (all three of them) and I can from viewing that these nun's are doing pretty spanky, but the nuns up the street who live and work a boarding house are some crazy ladies, they only way I know they're nuns is when they were their little white habits...otherwise its street cloths all the way...I don't know what this has to do with your blog, but if you ever want to sit and nun watch, come have a cuppa with me, they're everywhere. And they have a nice car.