The Men and the Women: Priests and Nuns

There have been nuns in my life, in school and on the picket line.  While Sister Mary St Peter was greatly over-anxious with the sharp edge of a ruler on my extended knuckles — and that the least of her punishments– her colleagues, my teachers, were fair, strict, knowledgeable and sometimes even kindly and encouraging.   Those  I knew in three years on picket lines are among the best people I’ve spent time with over 6 decades.  My deepest remembrance of a priest comes from a Sunday Sermon in which he complained about kleenex being dropped on the floor in church:  “the sacred hands of a priest should not have to touch what you have left.”  I was twelve or so, and not very rebellious yet but I remember thinking, “And St Theresa? Who had been held before us as an example of doing the most humble of jobs, no matter how mean.  Ministering to the pusing sores of the poor was the most beloved in Jesus’ sight.

So it was with interest I happened on Garry Wills resounding defense of nuns and slamming of their authoritarian, reactionary male leaders in June 7th, (2012) New York Review of Books. The opening paragraph sets the tone:

The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops’ thinking. That statement is profoundly true. Thank God, they don’t. Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops. The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drove their own new cars when nuns rode the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialized in arrogance, the nuns in humility.

and then this (which you need a subscription to see)

It is typical of the pope’s sense of priorities that, at the very time he is quashing an independent spirit in the church’s women, he is negotiating a welcome back to priests who left the church in portest at the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.  These men, with their own dissident bishop, Marcel Lefebvre, formed the Society of Pius X –the Pius whose Secretariat of State had a monsignor (Umberto Benigni) who promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  Pope Benedict has already lifted the excommunication of four biships in the Society of Pius X, including that of Richard Williamson, who is a Holocaust denier…


Uff!  Let us praise the women and their interest in ‘the Social Gospel,’ an anathema to the Society men and their pope who under the guise of tolerance and forgiveness seeks to build a counter reaction to exactly those values.