Nuns Now

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jesuit priest James Martin, a culture editor of America Magazine and author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, and Sister Mary Johnson, of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and professor of sociology and religious studies at Emmanuel College, discuss Vatican criticism of American nuns and their focus on poverty and economic justice.



Mary Johnson and James Martin, SJ

Comments [37]


Ed from Larchmont!!!

PUT THAT KoolAid™ CUP... DOWN!!!!!

May. 23 2012 09:25 PM
Mike from New York City

Fr. Martin is correct when he says that yes, the Church needs to be relevant. This involves standing up courageously for the Truth. It does not involve taking a vote.

May. 23 2012 12:42 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Brian Lehrer frequently mentions something like 'obedience of the intellect'. In the field of physics, for example, we believe the latest findings of the physicists. We don't think whatever we want. So it is with theology. If the Vatican expresses the truth, as Catholics believe, then it's not rational to think otherwise, and the 'obedience of the intellect' is perfectly appropriate.

What usually happens with Catholics is this. They see a position that the Vatican takes and they say 'that can't be right, it's ridiculous'. Then they investigate it, and decide that yes, the Church is correct. Then another position of the Church comes up, and they say 'It can't be right', and the person investigates it and decides that yes, the Church is correct. After doing this five or ten times and putting in all the work of research and investigation, and finding that the Church has investigated much more and has other resources besides, the person just says 'tell me what the Church teaches, I'm sure it's right'.

May. 23 2012 08:15 AM
Mark from Mount Vernon

Unlike Catholics, Episcopalians deal with only one sin, poor taste.

May. 22 2012 04:56 PM
kevin from upper LS

why don't we excomunicate the vatican,and tell it to go to hell where it belongs. let progressive nuns and priests do their own thing.

May. 22 2012 12:00 PM
Mary from Summit

The reason the "...communities haven't gotten vocation in years..." is not because the communities may be in conflict with the Vatican. Rather, these days, women of ambition now have other career options open to them. Even a generation ago, the convent was one of the few places women with leadership skills and ambition could flourish.

May. 22 2012 11:52 AM

Hmmm... let's dress-up our woman in black outfits and cover their heads...

...sound familiar???



May. 22 2012 11:14 AM

...welcome to the Enlightenment!!

May. 22 2012 11:07 AM


May. 22 2012 11:06 AM

...and we're worried about Sharia Law??

May. 22 2012 11:03 AM

Elle from Brooklyn~

"...out of step"???

How 'bout... IRRELEVANT????

May. 22 2012 11:02 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

The "problems" are not with the sisters, they are with the leadership of the Church.

May. 22 2012 11:01 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Currently the Church is suing the government over a law it has passed. And a sister, Sister Carol Keenan, was instrumental in getting that law passed. This is a prime example of the problems currently with the sisters.

The sister interviewed was very kind and also very careful in what she said.


May. 22 2012 10:58 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

My son attends Catholic school in Brooklyn, where there are many non-Catholic students, but even the Catholic families don't take many of the Church's absurd rules seriously. We recently received a notice about training for "natural family planning" (i.e. the rhythm method). We all had a good laugh about it. Get a grip, gentlemen, the women are no longer listening to you.

May. 22 2012 10:55 AM

@Ed from Larchmont

So interesting that you say "The Church's teaching can't be broken." I think that's one reason why the Reformation happened. Because it should be "God's teaching can't be broken" not "The Church's teaching can't be broken." and no, they aren't the same.

May. 22 2012 10:55 AM

The Khurch should really stick to what they do best; aiding and abetting genocidal dictators and sheltering pedophiles.

May. 22 2012 10:54 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I think Sister Mary needs to become a politician. She seems unable to answer a direct question, which is really all that's required in the political arena.

May. 22 2012 10:50 AM
concerned catholic from Brooklyn

When I was young my father was unable to work because of his serious alcoholism. My mother was raising 7 children and working as a teacherat the time. A devout Catholic, she went to confession and told our priest that she was using birth control. He said to her (by name)____, I guess we have nothing left to say to one another.Not only was birth control a sin, but so was divorce. My mother died young, I think partly from the stress of it all. Please explain how this could possibly be a spiritually driven decision , not a paternally repressive need for control by the church. It is very unfortunate that the church has failed to meet the needs of their people, especially women. My generation of women (in general) do not want to support this demeaning practice that the church clings too.It is pathetic that in the 21st Century the church is crumbling from within. I and all of my siblings have left the church angry. Pathetic.

May. 22 2012 10:50 AM

How can any intelligent woman (or, anyone, for that matter), in her right mind, subjugate herself to the absurdity of of this BACKWARD, ignorant organization??

Maybe an episode for Leonard Lopate's "Please Explain".

May. 22 2012 10:50 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Relevant, yes, but to witness to the truth.

May. 22 2012 10:49 AM
Ed from Larchmont

But the answer is devotion and not rebellion.

May. 22 2012 10:48 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It doesn't matter how they see them. The Church's teaching can't be broken.

Some issues can't change, these are among those issues that can't change.

May. 22 2012 10:47 AM
Barbara from Queens

What constitutes "radical feminism" in the eyes of the Vatican?

May. 22 2012 10:46 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The Council is authoritative, but the pope has equal current authority. One can't disobey the pope and say 'I'm obeying the Council'.

May. 22 2012 10:45 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

The nuns I have known work tirelessly and receive little reward. They deserve the highest praise, not criticism. Just more of the outdated male hierarchy trying to prevent the women from gaining ANY power whatsoever.

May. 22 2012 10:43 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The Vatican is correcting the misinterpretations of the years after parts some of the documents, so it's hard to say that they don't understand it.

May. 22 2012 10:41 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

I hate to criticize a nun, but - "complexify"?

May. 22 2012 10:41 AM
Siena from New Jersey

Sister's starting point is exactly the issue. This papacy wants us to forget Vatican II and all that it represents in terms of making the Church a relevant participant in the 21st century rather than a mysogynistic embarassment. The truth is that religious orders are the only place where women can take on true leadership roles.

May. 22 2012 10:40 AM
Gwen from Tribeca

As a child, I appreciated hearing the stories of the Bible each week in a Catholic Church pew. The stories taught me about love and compassion. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion as an adult that while these are the teachings of the Bible, they are not the teachings of the Catholic Church. I am raising my children as Episcopalians. Someone once said to me, "The Episcopalian church is Catholic Lite". I replied "No, it's Catholic nice". Can your guests shed light on what I've heard anecdotally that younger Americans are leaving the church in great numbers? If the numbers are not precipitous is that thanks to recent immigrants.

May. 22 2012 10:40 AM

Its very easy for the Vatican to criticize when they live in the ivory tower that is the Vatican.

May. 22 2012 10:39 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Oh yeah, that's a problem - too much attention to social justice - geez. Could the Pope possibly be any more out of step?

May. 22 2012 10:38 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The sisters aren't too focused on poverty and social justice - how can you be too focused on that? But at the same time, you can't do that and teach incorrect doctrine, and not follow your constitution.

May. 22 2012 10:35 AM
John A. from the practice

There would be a tendency for both of the selected guests to close ranks and not publicize any details of what is being contended. So - backstory please.

May. 22 2012 10:31 AM

Does Sister Mary Johnson think infertile couples should seek in vitro fertilization in order to conceive a child or is it a sin?

Why isn’t the Vatican bank's money laundering scandal ever talked about?
is supporting drug kingpins and terrorists a sin?

May. 22 2012 10:26 AM
Len from Jackson Heights

When I attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Queens, nuns were the great disciplinarians: wrapping hands, arms and backs, or forcing us stand or kneel for what seemed like hours as punishment for the slightest academic or spiritual infraction. Who knew they would turn out to be blaspheming, dangerous liberals.
At least our priests and bishops remain above reproach.

May. 22 2012 10:26 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Also, these are generally not nuns, who are cloistered, but sisters communities. To lay Catholics, the disobedience of some of the sisters and their not following their constitutions is incomprehensible.

May. 22 2012 06:09 AM
Ed from Larchmont

There's no reason to deny the massive work the women's communities have done over the decades in the U.S., especially in education and in healthcare, and still do. At the same time, one can't deny that many have been openly disobedient and in conflict with the Vatican and with the teaching of the Church. They have in many cases been a scandal to the laity, in a quite unnecesary way. Pope John Paul II was talked out of discipling them after his visit to the U.S. in 1979, this bringing them back to the Church's teaching has been long awaited and long needed, for everyone's benefit. (As a result of their conflict with the Vatican, these communities haven't gotten vocations in years, while those not in conflict with the Vatican are flourishing.)

May. 22 2012 06:05 AM

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