This morning, Mark Riley of WWRL interviewed one of the "Nuns on a Bus" who are traveling around the U.S. to protest the Paul Ryan budget. It's a relief to hear Roman Catholic "religious" discussing social justice in the tradition of the Catholic Worker Movement. Of course, there are some stories which evince some confusion regarding what the nuns are doing:
The idea of socially liberal nuns doesn’t just sound like a contradiction — it is. We don’t often associate social progressivism with the Catholic Church. In fact, the Church has become a de facto leader of the pro-life movement, anti-gay marriage amendments and other socially conservative policies. So it is indeed surprising that a large number of American nuns have embraced socially liberal policy in the name of social justice. Sisters involved with Networkparticularly support high government spending for programs that benefit the poor. Their road trip across the nation is aimed at informing Americans on the importance of government spending for social welfare programs.
There has always been a liberal thread in American Catholicism, from the aforementioned Catholic Worker Movement to the anti-war and anti-racism Berrigan Brothers. The fact of the matter is that the all-male church hierarchy has taken a huge lurch to the right since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, the Vatican has accused the largest group of American nuns of "radical feminism", criticizing the nuns for being preoccupied with matters of social justice, rather than social conservatism. Shit, social conservatism has been pounded into the faithful (who largely ignore the message) every Sunday by the male clergy, while the nuns have been in the trenches, helping the poor, the sick, and the desperate. Somebody has to provide some balance to the bishops, and as is typical, it's up to the women to actually get the work done. At the rate things are going, the American Conference of Bishops will soon be a small subset of the Republican Party- so much for being catholic...
I hope the nuns can reclaim the progressive mantle for those fair-minded Catholics who aren't willing to march in lockstep with the Conference of Bishops and the Holy See. Most Roman Catholics have interacted more with nuns than they have with bishops (insert joke here, dirty-minded readers), and I'd wager that they are more sympathetic to the nuns' message than the hierarchy's. I don't see a big pushback against the nuns working out well for the bishops.
I also want to say that I'm happy that the news coverage of NYC's "Pride Day" yesterday was thankfully free of interviews with the Cardinal. Last year, he was interviewed by the "all news, except when the Yankees are playing" station, which would not have interviewed Mel Gibson to provide "balance" in coverage of the Israeli Day parade. Sheesh, the Church Fathers really have to stop worrying about what consenting adults do with their genitals, while worrying what adults do with their genitals to non-consenting parties.
I'll take the "Nuns on a Bus" over "Bishops being Pricks" any day.
UPDATE: Christ wept... here's an Iowa congressman laughing at a joke about beating up nuns.