Once again proving our new pope puppy Francis acts friendly but pees on you when picked up Maureen Dowd sees the “malice towards nuns” within.
The cool pope suddenly doesn’t seem so cool, allowing Rome’s grand inquisitors to torque up the derogation this Mother’s Day of the American sisters who have mothered so many — even as an endless parade of ghoulish priests were shielded as they defiled vulnerable kids in their care.
Pope Benedict’s Vatican was determined to rein in American nuns inspired by Vatican II, accusing them of pushing “radical feminist themes” and caring for the sick instead of parroting church teaching opposing contraception, gay relationships and the ordination of women.
Yep, those nuns just don’t get it. They keep working on social justice issues, helping people, making even Buddhism look like a narcissistic belly-gazing boys club. Clearly, these women aren’t Christian. Clearly Vatican II really was a mistaken liberalization of women.
On Monday, we learned that German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican orthodoxy watchdog, upbraided the officers of the largest group of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which has already been investigated and reprimanded by Rome. He objected to their plan to honor Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a Fordham theology professor who has written that women are uncomfortable with “the dominant images of God as father, lord, and king” and would prefer “non-authoritarian” female language for God.
Last year Pope Francis said he would let the Vatican’s coercive reform of the nuns’ group continue. And this past week, he was silent following Müller’s mauling of the nuns.
The pope is proving true the adage that sexism is the last frontier of human rights–don’t even dream of animal rights much less planetary rights. Whether the male rights activist block in the atheists or the Catholics or the Protestants or the Buddhists or the Hindi or the Muslim it’s certain the women are still being bashed around with astounding consistency and breadth.
“This latest slapdown raises a big question about Pope Francis’s character,” said Kenneth Briggs, the author of “Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns.” “Is he content projecting a Mr. Nice Guy image while giving the green light to the Vatican big boys to pursue a hard line? Is he the butterfly who delights everybody, or is he also the strong arm?”
Although the 77-year-old pope has said that women could gain greater power in the church, other comments have been typically atavistic. While praising women for their “sensitivity,” “intuition” and mothering skills, he said flatly that women’s ordination to the priesthood “is not a question open to discussion.”
The pope does send ambiguous messages but which is the real one?
Vallely told me that the pope is “intent on sending ambiguous signals in certain areas.”
He did not contradict Cardinal Müller “because that would be sending out a liberal message rather than an inclusive message,” the biographer said. But in June, the pope reportedly told a group of nuns and priests from Latin America not to worry if they heard from the orthodoxy enforcers because “this will pass!”
Vallely said that the pope was allowing the liberal German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make speeches on changing the rules to allow divorced Catholics to take Communion at the same time he’s allowing conservatives to oppose the same thing. He chose a liberal pope for sainthood to balance the conservative, pedophile-shielding pope.
“The thing he really hates is the way the papacy used to work like a medieval monarchy,” Vallely said. “He wants the church to reach decisions slowly, by conversations within the church. He wants to hear all the different voices. He’s letting a thousand flowers bloom.
At the end of the day the pope still represents and foments the authoritarian, patriarchal, female hating church that bred him.
Or not. Women, gays and dissident Catholics who had fresh hope are going to have to face the reality that while this pope is a huge improvement on the last, the intolerance is still there.
We are still going to be discriminated against, but with a smile instead of a frown.
Hmm, I am not sure he’s an improvement. At least with the last pope I knew better than to pick him up and hold him close. This one just pees on everyone when they least expect it and the stains just don’t come off.
Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com