Tag Archives: Maureen Dowd


Somehow we got on the subjects of Nuns.

Don’t ask me how – I’ve never been religious although I once played a Nun on the stage, in roller-skates no less. But it was interesting that we got onto the subject – for two women, one of which had no religious background (that would be me), we talk religion a great deal.

One of the things we noticed is that we weren’t seeing nuns very often anymore although there is a community of the Sisters of St. Mary near us. So, when I was coming out of the doctor’s office and a nun was walking in I just had to call and say I spotted one. It was kind of like bird watching.

Then, one of my new favorite business gurus, Kenny the Monk, sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times about the new papal administration opening its arms to conservative Anglican Clergy, even if married, while shunning Catholic women and gays.

“With one wave of the Vatican’s almighty hand, Anglicans who don’t like women bishops or gay priests are now welcome in the Catholic Church.  Even their married clergy can come along.”Kenny the Monk

Then in Maureen Dowd’s column yesterday she talked of the Vatican wanting American nuns to embrace more archaic and traditional roles. In Ms. Dowd’s words

“The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.”Maureen Dowd

It got me thinking.

I keep hoping that one of the most powerful religions will make its way into the 21st century – but all my hope seems to be in vain. There was a glimmer when the Vatican recognized Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but since then it has been all downhill. The pardoning of a bishop who claimed there were no Nazi gas chambers, continued belief that condoms don’t prevent AIDS, that women should hold only second class status in the church, and still considering sex education, of anything but abstinence, to be immoral. Guess they just threw in Darwin for irony since the church has ceased to evolve.

And just about now you are asking why I care, right? I’m not Catholic, wasn’t schooled by nuns, so why?

Because the Catholic Church could just as easily be a force for change as a force for repression.

Check out the Wiki site – the stats for the US are startling and show the divide between where US Catholics are headed and where the Vatican wants them to be led. As of 2005, there were the following…

 41,406 diocesan and religious-order priests

30,000 lay ministers of which 80% are women

17,000 permanent deacons (men)

63,032 sisters (down from 180,000 in 1965)

5,040 brothers

16 Cardinals

424 Active and retired Bishops  

If you do the math that means that 87,032 women are involved in the upper levels of organization in the Catholic Church as opposed to 69,886 men. What group in their right mind would want to jeopardize their relationship with 56% of their base?

And that doesn’t count all the women who do everything else….

150,000 Catholic school teachers teaching 2.7 million students

What do you want to bet the stats are on that – according to the US census bureau 71% of all teachers in the US are women (2004).

I have a feeling if the women in the Catholic Church actually returned to being “submissive partners” and cultivated their femininity which includes “waiting”, nothing would get done. Women are the backbone of the church and it bothers me that the Vatican is pulling them away from their rightful place as co-owners of the faith.

When you think about it, is it all that different than any other ultra conservative sect that keeps its women without power, education, and rights? And we know the Vatican is wrong…

Data shows that teaching abstinence doesn’t work

That condoms can be used to stop the spread of AIDS

That empowering women – educating them and giving them control of their bodies – is the best thing a developing country can do to move forward. Impacting not only the lives of women, but men and children too.

We are stronger when we are equal – and if the Catholic Church wants to continue to have the support of women and their energy and enthusiasm present in religious life, they need to start listening to them or eventually they won’t have them. At this point I think we have to reverse the statement.

Ask not what you can do for your church, but what your church can do for you.  

If there is a God I’m sure she isn’t amused.

~ Tess


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