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US nuns hope new pope will understand "ordinary folks"

The nuns, who had widely reported problems with Pope Benedict's administration, hope for more input and regular meetings with senior Church leaders.

  • Lisa Miller
  • United States
  • February 19, 2013
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Florence Deacon wants a new pope “with experience of living with a lot of ordinary folks. Someone who understands the difficulty of having to live the gospel and at the same time get a little boy to eat his breakfast before he goes off to school.”

Margaret Farley wants to see a church leadership “marked by the grace of listening and respect — and mutually so.”

Deacon and Farley are not just Catholic women, they’re nuns. And both have run afoul of the administration of Pope Benedict XVI. Sister Florence is president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which continues to be investigated for what the Vatican has called doctrinal inconsistencies, including “radical feminism.” Sister Margaret is an emerita professor at Yale. Her 2010 book, “Just Love,” was censured by the church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for being “in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching on sexual morality.”

No wonder these women, who have given their lives to God, hope for a pontiff who might signal a new era of diversity, listening and respect, and an understanding of — if not experience with — the way real people live real lives.

The Second Vatican Council ended with a resounding call for the inclusion of women into church life.

“The hour is coming,” read the council’s closing documents, “in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment . . . women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.”

But that prescient rhetoric has turned up empty. The status of nuns within the Catholic organization, at least in the West, has dropped precipitously — and so, accordingly, have their numbers.

Sister Florence says that although her organization represents 50,000 American sisters, the LCWR has no regular audience with the pope. She has never met any pope. No one in the American church leadership has ever asked her opinion on a matter of national, political or ecclesiastical significance, such as the contraception mandate in President Obama’s health plan or the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Regular meetings with church leaders would “allow you to see each other as real people, and if you have a question or a concern, you talk it over. You don’t let things get blown out of proportion and let situations fester. It would be nice to have periodic access,” she says. 

Full Story: Wanted by American nuns: A pope who listens to and appreciates female leadership 

Source: Washington Post

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