First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the latest developments surrounding one of my very examples of religious/political activism: Roman Catholic nuns, who’ve taken on an increasingly active role championing progressive causes, including the importance of economic justice and President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The nuns’ efforts were not well received by former Pope Benedict, but many hoped the selection of a new, reform-minded pope might lead the church to adopt a fresh perspective. Alas, that has not happened (thanks to my wife for the tip).
Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Vatican’s criticism of a body that represents U.S. nuns that the Church said was tainted by “radical” feminism, dashing hopes that he might take a softer stand with the sisters.
Francis’s predecessor, Benedict, decreed that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a group that represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 Catholic nuns in the United States, must change its ways, a ruling that the Vatican said on Monday still applied.
Last year, a Vatican report said the LCWR had “serious doctrinal problems” and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith,” criticizing it for taking a soft line on issues such as birth control and homosexuality.
Nuns met this week with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the new head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department, and Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been assigned by the Vatican to “correct” the nuns’ “perceived failings.” The nuns were informed that Pope Francis has already endorsed Pope Benedict’s criticisms.
If recent history is any guide, we haven’t heard the last of the dispute.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* A national HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 34% of Americans would favor establishing Christianity as the official state religion in their own state, while 47 percent would oppose the idea. The same poll found 32% would favor a constitutional amendment making Christianity the country’s official religion. It suggests about a third of the country might need a refresher on the basics of religious liberty in the United States.
* As the climate crisis intensifies, “about 4 in 10 Protestant pastors ‘believe global warming is real and man made’ – an increase from similar data collected in 2010, but down slightly from 2008” (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* Interesting court case: “The Virginia Supreme Court ruled for the Episcopal Church on Thursday in a bitter, multi¬million-dollar property dispute with a conservative congregation that had left the denomination amid controversies over homosexuality and other issues. The panel affirmed a lower court’s decision that the 3,000-member congregation, which voted in 2006 to leave the Episcopal Church, did not have the right to keep the sprawling property known as the Falls Church.”
* And radical TV preacher Pat Robertson this week told his audience that Dungeons & Dragons is a “demonic” game that has “literally destroyed people’s lives.”