Except for when the Vatican specifically announces it.
Women, as a group, are getting a lot of press these days, and rightfully so. There are certain elements, both from within the United States (the GOP) and abroad (the Vatican) that are reexamining the role that women ought to play and what specific rights and privileges womanhood ought to carry with it. There’s a new salvo in the ‘War on Women’* . The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is a group of Catholic nuns in the United States that formed their own group to press their own agenda and represent their own interests. In many instances, the Conference has placed more of an emphasis on social justice, health issues and women’s rights, as opposed to the more dogmatic and doctrinal edicts that emanate from the Vatican. Now, it’s looking as if there’s going to be a price to pay for that independence.
The Vatican is concerned that the group is displaying theological tendencies that are incompatible with established religious doctrines. An archbishop has been appointed to investigate the situation, and he has the full faith and backing of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body that was formerly known as the Inquisition. Fun, right? The operating premise is the same, but the name is different. The Congregation is basically the KGB, a secret police organization that’s geared towards detecting and rooting out dissent before it becomes a threat to Catholic (read: male) leadership.
I think this is a pity. Women have a unique and powerful role to play within society, be it civil or religious. Groups that silence the voices of women do so at their own peril, as they thwart the ever increasing role that women have to play in our lives. The most basic reason that people want to silence the voice of women is fear. Groups formed and dominated by men to the exclusion of women sometimes, as in the case of the Vatican, possess an intrinsic fear of women and the potential power that they bring to the table. The Vatican would do well to halt this investigation, and let the nuns of America go about doing the work that they deem important, whether or not a bunch of men in dresses in Rome agree with it or not. Have a little faith in them, please.
*In some instances, I think the moniker of the ‘war on women’ is used inaccurately, but I can’t think of a better use of the term when you have what is essentially the Inquisition gearing up to silence the viewpoints and power of independent minded women here in the US.