17 May 2012

Nuns on the Frontier

Nuns on the Frontier, by Anne M. Butler (New York Times, 15 May 2012)

Excerpts:
The recent Vatican edict that reproached American nuns for their liberal views on social and political issues has put a spotlight on the practices of these Roman Catholic sisters. While the current debate has focused on the nuns’ progressive stances on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, the all-male priesthood and economic injustice, tension between American nuns and the church’s male hierarchy reaches much further back.

In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West, braving hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy that, then as now, frequently exploited and disdained them was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change.



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