Here is an important story, about which we have heard rumors for the past few days, apparently confirmed by National Catholic Reporter.  In response to the Apostolic Visitation, many women's religious orders are, according to NCR, not complying with requests to answer the Vatican questionnaire, and instead are sending in their constitutions (that is, their foundational--and church-approved--"rule") to the Apostolic Visitator, as an alternative response and, also a form of protest.  (I had also heard this reported independently from several people familiar with the visitation.  One described it to me as "nonviolent protest," something echoed in a statement below.) 

If this is true, it would constitute an historic protest of Vatican authority on the part of women religious in this country.  Tom Fox, editor of NCR, reports:  

The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions.  "There's been almost universal resistance," said one women religious familiar with the responses compiled by the congregation leaders. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity."

The deadline for the questionnaires to be filled out and returned to the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitator, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Mary Clare Millea, was Nov. 20. On that day, according to an informed source, congregation leaders across the nation sent Millea letters and, in many cases, only partial answers to the questionnaire. Many women, instead of filling out the forms, replied by sending in copies of their Vatican -approved orders' religious constitutions. A religious order's constitution states its rationale, purpose and mission.

The Vatican initiated the study in January, saying its purpose is to determine the quality of life in religious communities, given the decline in vocations in recent decades. From the outset, the women have complained they were never consulted before Vatican officials announced the investigation and there is no transparency in the process. Some have called the effort demeaning and intrusive.  The decisions by congregation leaders not to comply follow nearly two months of intensive discussions both inside and across religious congregations. They follow consultations with civil and canon lawyers, and come in the wake of what some women religious see as widespread support by laity for their church missions.

With about half of the responses from the nation's 59,000 women religious accounted for, only about one percent answered, as directed, most or all of the questions contained in the study's working paper, officially called an Instrumentum Laboris, according to one informed source.  By contrast, according to the source, congregations representing, by far, the greater majority of women religious decided not to comply and answered only a few, or none, of the questions. Many of the 340 U.S. apostolic congregation heads instead sent letters to Millea stating that what they were sending was what the Vatican was looking for.

....

Several women said canon lawyers told the women they were not required to answer all the questions. Religious, unlike bishops, priests and deacons, who make up the clergy, are not officially part of the church's hierarchical structure. According to this reasoning, women religious are responsible to their congregation leadership and to their constitutions.

...

All along, said one woman religious, the challenge has been to respond to the Vatican in a way that breaks a cycle of violence. She said that the women religious communities have attempted to respond by using a language "devoid of the violence" they found in the Vatican questionnaire and within the wider study. She characterized the congregation responses as "creative and affirming," and part of an effort to set a positive example in "nonviolent resistance."

...

"Women religious, she said, are asking if there is a "Ghandian or Martin Luther King way" to deal with violence they felt is being done to them.

Read the rest of the NCR story here.

Comments

JIM MCCREA | 12/1/2009 - 7:12pm
It's nice to see which gender of religious has the brass ones!
You go, Sisters!
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 8:02pm
William: My thoughts have not been welcomed with open arms either. My original comment # 3 was intended as tongue and cheek; however, readers were variously offended. Some described my remarks as demeaning, others questioned my capacity for charity, and still others found themselves induced to tears and nausea. I dont know, these seem like somewhat overwrought reactions. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. If I venture into the blohospere and chime in with my two cents of conservative thought, I should not be overly surprised by liberal angst upon reading the same. At least not at America.

Anyway...This did get me thinking about the "sisters". If a sister openly defies the Magisterium , can that same sister then really cry victim with any validity ? Does she really want to go down that road? After all, she has staked a claim in the public arena, assuming postions on eveything from radical feminist theology, the need for female priests, the legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality , the irrelevance of contraception and concern for tuna that find themselves unjustly ensnared in fishing nets. And I am not making this up. Retreating into the role of victim seems incongruent with the capacacity to openly and comfortably defy the Church.
Why should the sisters have a problem providing a signature ? And yet,they do.

This is akin to the Kennedy/Tobin dance. Tobin did not go looking for the encounter w/ Kennedy. Tobin was morally obligated as Bishop and Shepphard of his flock to correct what he deemed scandalous to the Church. Namely, in response to Kennedy's contention that his support of abortion did not make him any less a Catholic, Tobin quite rightly advised Kennedy that, yes, in fact it did. Similarly, the Vatican seems to be saying to the sisters who openly defy the Magisterium ,enough.

It just appears rather unseemly to be likening the language of the investigation to " violence" together with a purported need of the sisters to respond to the Vatican with "non-violence. Do they really want to start likening the Papacy to the Klu Klux Klan ? Must the sisters now assume the mantle of MLK?

I think there is something very wrong with this picture. But, if humility and obedience are inextricably bound, and I believe they are, I don't see how one can define the conversation in terms of: "violence", "non-violence", "victim", "protest", a "need to focus on themselves". This just isn't the language I think of when I think about humility,obedience, service and love.
ANN ODONOGHUE | 11/30/2009 - 4:26pm
and opps, I was totally sure I was in your Christmas blog post. Mea culpa.
ANN ODONOGHUE | 11/30/2009 - 4:24pm
"Don’t “should” all over yourself this Christmas."

LOL! Is this accidental or do you know Northern Irish people?

Marc Monmouth | 11/30/2009 - 3:57pm
Thomas Rooney, I certainly do not consider the founder of the Legion to be a model for the Body of Christ. His actions have been despicable. At the same time, I do not consider the actions of sistes like Sister Donna Quinn escorting women to have abortions as exemplary either. The Legion, like the Sisters, have and continue to have sinners and saints as members. All should cooperate with Church authorities.
Michael Bindner | 11/30/2009 - 1:10pm
What would be truly sad is if, as some suspect, this really has nothing to do with the well being of the sisters, but is instead pay back by the Vatican for those women who support Fr. Ray Bourgois in his troubles with the Vatican over his attendance at an ordination of female priests. This type of heavy handedness has no business in the body of Christ.
Thomas Rooney | 11/30/2009 - 11:40am
Milbo -

Are you really comfortable comparing the Legion's significant transgressions to a collective refusal to answer a questionnaire in the manner expected? You really consider the Legion's founder to be better examples for the Body of Christ than the Sisters in question?

Pax,
T
Marc Monmouth | 11/30/2009 - 11:18am
It is sad when there is deliberate defiance of Church authority whether that defiance is on the Left or the Right. I wonder if all the supporters of this defiance would be equally supportive had the Legionnaires of Christ refused to cooperate with Church authorities.  These sisters are certainly not models for our children or the Body of Christ. 
Pearce Shea | 11/30/2009 - 11:09am
As someone who considers themselves neither a ''trad'' or ''progressive,'' as someone who is close to and has spent a long time volunteering with and speaking to (for many years now) Religious habited and otherwise, I can honestly say I think everyone ought to be a lot more circumspect.
 
Charity ought to dictate our approach to any Sister or Order that seems to have departed from Church teaching, as sometimes that line can be quite ''blurry.''
 
That said, I see a lot of people here rushing to protect the women in LCWR who are sending their charters back to the Church. Not only is this protest a bit childish, it's endemic of a larger problem in the LCWR, which is closely tied to the sort of overwrought, hyper-educated (and, frankly, out of touch) rhetoric that refers to the questionnaire as ''violent.'' I've read the questionnaire. To compare the Vatican to a dictatorship or this questionnaire as part of an inquisition is, to me, deeply offensive and widely misses the mark. Given the fact that the majority of orders in the (purportedly ''liberal'') LCWR are on the wane in a big way and that the majority of orders in the (purportedly ''conservative'') whats-its-name (Sisters, I apologize for forgetting) are on the wax in a similarly large way, don't we all owe it to ourselves, our fellow parishioners and the billions of poor helped by these women religious to try and figure out why this imbalance exists and is happening?
 
Someone mentioned Sr. Schneiders, who in her NPR appearance seemed a lot more measured in her approach to the matter of the Visitations than in her article. It should be noted that this Sr. and her Order both passed ''with flying colors'' (her words) this so-called inquisition. That fact alone indicates to me that this is really more about its stated purpose than about some sort of oppression.
 
I admit that some may consider my faith in the second Visitation as largely a positive and helpful thing as horribly naive. I still suggest that this eagerness to jump to the defense of any and all in the LCWR, seemingly no matter what they do (and again, I suggest that sending in your Charter is childish and misses the mark) doesn't do anyone any favors.
Steve Held | 11/30/2009 - 10:29am
Vince, just to clarify, I said repelled by the lives of the members, of which work is just a part. And while I wrote people, I of course meant people considering joining the community, leaving the comment applicable for communities of either men or women. I certainly don't disagree that most Catholics, and even non-Catholics, appreciate the work that women religious do, especially among the poor and the sick. But that's a far cry from wanting to essentially share a life with them.
William Lindsey | 11/30/2009 - 9:11am
Maria, thanks for your reply, and for your explanation that your initial statement was tongue in cheek.
 
You say, "If a sister openly defies the Magisterium , can that same sister then really cry victim with any validity?"
 
But I don't see American women religious defying the magisterium, by sending their Vatican-approved constitutions back to Rome as a response to the questionnaire.  They're responding.  Just not in the way those devising the questionnaire may have predicted.
 
Sometimes, when you ask a question, you get an answer you don't expect. 
 
And as Jesus illustrated by remaining silent when authority figures asked him questions that were all about entrapment and not about the pursuit of truth, sometimes the best response to questions can be silence.  Or, in this case, returning to Rome the constitutions it has already approved, which are full of answers - and good Advent reading about humility, obedience, service, and love, all of which I see exemplified by the many religious women I know.  Even when they do wear polyester.
 
We could all - including the men at the top - learn a great deal about walking in the footsteps of Jesus from many of those vowed women.
Michael Bindner | 11/30/2009 - 1:39am
Aaron and Maria. You are confusing the Curia with the Magisterium. They are not the same thing.
Aaron Reynolds | 11/29/2009 - 10:31pm
What I don't agree with about many of these arguments is that many of you claim the Holy Spirit is leading these women to object to Church authority. The Holy Spirit would never lead anyone to object to church authority because the Church is the Bride of Christ. If the Holy Father (the Pope) and the Magisterium wish for an investigation of women religious in the U.S., than these women should comply with the Vatican. If these women feel that they're living as the Holy Spirit would have them live, then they should do as the Church tells them. Holy Mother Church would not contradict the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, these women are doing more harm to themselves by not following the orders of the Vatican.
Aaron Reynolds | 11/29/2009 - 10:30pm
What I don't agree with about many of these arguments is that many of you claim the Holy Spirit is leading these women to object to Church authority. The Holy Spirit would never lead anyone to object to church authority because the Church is the Bride of Christ. If the Holy Father (the Pope) and the Magisterium wish for an investigation of women religious in the U.S., than these women should comply with the Vatican. If these women feel that they're living as the Holy Spirit would have them live, then they should do as the Church tells them. Holy Mother Church would not contradict the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, these women are doing more harm to themselves by not following the orders of the Vatican.
Vince Killoran | 11/29/2009 - 9:24pm
Maria:
"If I venture into the blohospere and chime in with my two cents of conservative thought. . .": You practically live on the AMERICA blog!  I think the people who disagree with you do so, for the most part, in a polite and constructive fashion.
Re. the sisters' "openly defying the Magisterium": You seem  certain that this is what they are doing but that is far from clear.  This questionnaire is not a decree, teaching, etc. Why the rush to judgement about what the sisters are doing?
Steve suggests in post #11 that people are "repelled" by these congregations and that explains their dramatic drop in numbers.  My experience in several parishes across the country (and teaching for some years at a school staffed by an order under fire from the hierarchy) is that Catholics by and large love and respect the work and vocation of these women.  Their contributions to the Church have been priceless.  Why have the number of novices dropped (and the newer, more "traditional" orders flourished)?  I'm not certain.  I think the demands of living in the Vatican II-inspired orders is especially demanding.  But I do know some of the few who have professed in recent decades and they are impressive Catholics. 
William Lindsey | 11/29/2009 - 6:43pm
Thank you for your reply, Maria.  I had thought your response was a response to me.
 
I do suspect that when people are overtly made to feel unwelcome, unless they occupy a demeaned place contrived them for others who want to keep them in that place, many of those people will walk away.  That's a natural and human response to being told one is unwelcome, unless one accepts the confining place contrived for one by others.
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 6:38pm
William: My apologies. My post was, in fact, addressed to yoy. William, I am not advocating purging the Church of anyone. Really.
William Lindsey | 11/29/2009 - 6:31pm
Maria, it's not clear to me if your response is a response to the questions I asked you.
 
But since you replied following my posting, addressing an unnamed "you," I'm assuming that you were responding to me.  If I'm mistaken, please forgive me.
 
If not, I'd like to note that you didn't answer my questions.  If you don't mind, would you please do so?  My questions were,
 
When the purge is over, who's going to be left?
 And what right will the church created from such a purge have to call itself catholic?
 
First they came for the homos.  Then they came for the nuns . . . .
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 6:08pm
Good for the Sisters.  I read an old article today by Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M., a professor of New Testament and spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology,  Berkeley, that had something I think is relevant ....
 
"[...]  Jesus neither counseled nor modeled abjection. While respecting both the Law and the leaders of his people, he reserved to himself the right to follow his own conscience even when it conflicted with Torah or tradition (Mk. 3:1-5; 2:18-28). When provoked by the righteous to condemn the sinner, he enraged and shamed the self-appointed judges by his defense of the guilty (cf. Lk. 7:36-50). When falsely accused by the religious leaders, he demanded that they either substantiate their claims or withdraw them (Jn. 18:19-23). When Pilate flaunted his authority over Jesus, Jesus replied that Pilate had only the power God gave him (Jn. 19:10-11), that is, power to kill the body but impotence over the spirit. Betrayed by the hierarchy of his own religious community and executed by the power of the state, Jesus died victorious. Claiming that no one took his life from him, he laid it down of his own accord for those he loved (Jn. 10:18). Throughout his life and teaching Jesus urged his disciples to claim for themselves that same freedom in the face of law, that same dignity under oppression, that same fearlessness in the face of power (cf. Lk. 12:4-5). The refusal to dominate others must be further complemented by the refusal to be dominated ......." 
-http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/863841schneiders.html
 
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 4:58pm
"many women's religious orders are, according to NCR, not complying with requests to answer the Vatican questionnaire"
 
I cannot see praising these women religious who are refusing to answer a QUESTIONAIRE.  Its hard to find charitable words to describe such a defiant action.
Sounds like these women are "going rogue".  They must be Sarah Palin fans???
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 3:59pm
Are we now going to argue that adherence to the Magisterium constitutes a lack of charity ? You incorrectly draw assumptions from my unwillingness to support those (nuns or otherwise) who defy the Magisterium.
Grace Wilson | 11/29/2009 - 3:41pm
Do commenters here have the same level of support for Legionaries of Christ who resist and obstruct the investigation into their group?
 
William Lindsey | 11/29/2009 - 3:39pm
Maria, wow.
 
With all due respect: in other threads, you've given me the impression you'd love to see all gay folks driven out of the church.  Now it's women religious you appear willing to shove out.
 
Who's next?  When the purge is over, who's going to be left?
 
And what right will the church created from such a purge have to call itself catholic?
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 3:37pm
re post # 20 -should read " cloisterd Carmelite nun, or a cloistered Benedictine nun". Apologies.
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 2:15pm
In his letter announcing a doctrinal review of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, Cardinal William J. Levada makes reference to a 2001 meeting between LCWR officials and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At that meeting, the officials were invited to report on the reception by LCWR congregations of Church teaching on the sacramental priesthood, Dominus Iesus and homosexuality. Never mind contraception or abortion.

Questions apparently persist and hence the investigation. Do we specualte about the postions a Carmelite nun, or a Benedictine nun , might hold on: sacramental priesthood, Dominus Iesus and homoseuxaltiy. I think not. Therein lies the answer to all of the questions attending this "controvery".
Beth Cioffoletti | 11/29/2009 - 1:07pm
With their non-violent response and resistance to the Vatican, these women are showing the way.  They are the heart and soul of the Catholic Church in America. 
 If it is really true that more traditional orders of younger nuns are flourishing (is it?), give them a little time and I'll bet they move right into the wisdom and grace of these older women who have been there and done that.
 
This is what is called MATURE spirituality.
Beth Cioffoletti | 11/29/2009 - 1:06pm
With their non-violent response and resistance to the Vatican, these women are showing the way.  They are the heart and soul of the Catholic Church in America. 
 
If it is really true that more traditional orders of younger nuns are flourishing (is it?), give them a little time and I'll bet they move right into the wisdom and grace of these older women who have been there and done that.
JOSEPH CLEARY II | 11/29/2009 - 12:36pm
It does the religious sisters of our country little good that there are some whose response to such stories is to respond in the demeaning manner of Maria and others who seem eager to excuse almost any action taken by a sister ( the sister who found her life's work assisting people to enter an abortion clinic for years and was defended by her order until the publicity finally got to Rome comes to mind ) 
I imagine when this story becomes clearer, we will see a variety of fullness of responses, in line with a variety of orders and approaches. No matter how many good reasons one can list why a visitation and study can and should be helpful to the various orders, the way this was rolled out sent a very different message and brought great distrust as to the real motives of this process. 
So I can see many orders deciding to answer as many questions as possible by instead making direct reference to previous Vatican approved constitutions, documents etc. This is where cannon lawyers and scholars would be most helpful, as it is the way someone distrustful of how the answers will be parsed would choose to answer. ( let them go back to Rome and parse the Constitution they already approved!) 
F K | 11/29/2009 - 11:55am
It's true that nuns (and non-ordained brothers) are lay people. In fact, they are the original lay movements. Some sisters will be more transparent to the hierarchy than others, just as some lay movements are more transparent to the hierarchy than others.
Anonymous | 11/29/2009 - 10:31am
The sisters have Adam and Eve to thank for their knowledge of good and evil!
ANN ODONOGHUE | 11/29/2009 - 8:26am
"If the Good Lord delivered Daniel from the lion's den, can't he please deliver us from these obstreperous, polyester wearing, angry women? Please? Amen.
Maria"

Perhaps his effort would be better spent delivering you from such an uncharitable attitude. I don't know what made you so bitter towards the sisters, but whatever point you were trying to make was lost in your sad choice of words.

Sister Rose, I left the church a long time ago but my heart will always be with the good sisters who make a difference every day in their service of others. You have my gratitude and admiration.
Steve Held | 11/29/2009 - 2:28am
People are attracted to join a congregation by the lives of the existing members. Or in the case of the dying congregations, people are repelled by the lives of the existing members. Hopefully, the Vatican questionnaire will provoke some self-introspection on the part of these dying religious communities.
Margalo Kostendta | 11/29/2009 - 2:10am
It's kind of... disturbing to hear the Sisters refer to their predicament as "violence" or "abusive." Especially strange since many of them probably have experience helping women who are actual victims of actual violence. I am increasingly shocked by how closed these individuals (they do not speak for ALL women religious, and don't let them say they do!) are to sharing what is going on in their communities. What happened to willingness to dialogue and most of all openness to the Holy Spirit and the CHANGE the Spirit might be calling you to??? This kind of stonewalling stuff reminds of tales of conservative bishops post Vatican II. The Church could not get stuck in 1950 then and we can't get stuck in 1968, now. You have to be willing to continue on with the Church's pilgrimage. The needs of the People of God are no longer being met by that era's theology or style of ministry.
Aaron Reynolds | 11/29/2009 - 1:27am
All I have to say is that it's wonderful to note that while the more liberal and radical orders of women religious are diminishing, the very traditional orders are flourishing. In twenty or so years, we'll see that the largest orders of women religious will not be the liberal and hetero-orthodox orders that won't comply with the Vatican, but the traditional and orthodox orders that obey Holy Mother Church. 
Grace Wilson | 11/29/2009 - 1:00am
Ah, the poor oppressed sisters.
Granted, sisters past and present have done a great deal for the Church and have, indeed, been subject to ridiculous and unjust treatment. That's true.
But this isn't that, and the sisters need to get over themselves.
Here's what we have:
 
Religious communities that are DYING. In 20 years, will there be any Sisters of Mercy or Sisters of Charity or Benedictines left in the United States? Of course there won't. In a country of 50 million Catholics, there will be a few thousand religious women. It is not unreasonable for the Vatican to be interested in why, how this came about, what the sisters are doing about their charisms, their ministries and their property. How, in short, are the sisters preparing for their corporate death and what can be learned from it?
Here's what I see when I look at religious women in the US - I see, for example, millions of Hispanic immigrants coming to the United States, to urban and rural areas both, in great need of education, support and other types of ministry. And I see the older religious communities - those that in the past ministered to immigrant groups - totally closed in on themselves, totally absent from these areas of great and urgent need, instead talking about the Environment and Mother Earth and running retreat centers catering to a couple of dozen other Caucasian middle-class women a month, then patting themselves on the back, asking lay Catholics for more money and griping about the patriarchy.
Frankly, I don't think this latest move is going to help the Sisters in the next collection for retired religious. 
Helena Loflin | 11/29/2009 - 12:08am
I'd like to see the Vatican intensify its focus on the state of the priesthood here in the U.S., an entity that so obviously remains in crisis.  Until the U.S. Catholic Church hierachy is thoroughly purged of those bishops who conspired to cover up the illegal and immoral behavior of known pedaphile priests, and until those bishops are themselves brought to civil/criminal justice, I think the Vatican is wasting precious time and (our) resources investigating the state of women religious in this country.  It feels to me that the Vatican's investigation of women religious is a welcome distraction, and perhaps continued denial, of the catastophic harm done to so many in the Church by the bishops and pedaphile priests.  No external threat to Mother Church can even begin to compare to this still festering threat from within.
 
Singling out women religious for an "investigation" at this time looks mighty petty and way out of touch with reality at best.  Women religious have always been and remain the glue that holds the Church together.  It's no wonder they are rightfully questioning the purpose and intent of this Vatican investigation.  How can the Church expect these educated and dedicated women, who personally sacrifice so much in order to serve, to simply roll over and support an investigation cloaked in such insulting secrecy?  In the year of Our Lord 2009, and in all the years before now, grown women in all walks of life who shoulder great responsibility naturely don't like being treated like children who have no dignity or rights.  The Vatican needs to show women religious a whole lot more respect than it has in this investigation matter.  The Vatican couldn't have taken a more stumbling approach.  No, the Church isn't a democracy, but the Vatican can certainly treat its best women religious with at least as much regard and respect as it has its worst pedaphile priest.
 
I realize the the Church hierarchy is the consummate old boys network.  If these men were handling all other matters before them with great and consistent competence, I'd say that the women religious might want to cooperate with the investigation, however intrusive.  But, that is so not the case.  Until the boys stop being boys, I think the women religious should stand their ground and await a more professional, thoughtful, respectful and mature approach to them by the Vatican.           
Rose Hoover | 11/28/2009 - 11:51pm
As a Catholic sister, trying to be faithful to my call and always aware of the need for mercy, I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the negative comments that when I do read words of support I am nearly brought to tears. Thank you, Steph and Fran.
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn | 11/28/2009 - 11:10pm
Fr. Jim has presented us with something to discuss and ponder. I find myself distressed to find comments that just come as blanket put downs. How does this help us as a church, as God's people?
 
Given the turmoil in other corners of the Church, Dublin at the center of the most recent storm, perhaps the Visitation should take a back seat to other matters.
 
As for the need of many bloggers and commenters at sites all over Catholic blogdom to diminuate the violence that the sisters report feeling, I simply posit that those voices may not have been at the receiving end of emotional, spiritual or psychological violence, let alone physicial.
 
And when one is in an abusive situation, often the abuser or co-abusers take the route of establishing that it was "not that big of a deal."
 
As someone who considers herself a joyful and deeply committed Roman Catholic, I have spent the past few days feeling (literally) sick to my stomach. It makes reading negativity about the sisters even harder than usual.
Anonymous | 11/28/2009 - 11:06pm
Would that they were teching.
S Bond | 11/28/2009 - 9:47pm
Some of the best women I've come in contact with are these polyester wearing women, Maria. Teaching, caring for the poor, working to stop the cycle of violence - living Christ's message of peace and hope.  Makes my life look pretty selfish, frankly.  Yes, there are some bad apples in there (and I once had the knuckle bruises as evidence), but I find your dismissive, insulting, and unchristian comment pretty obnoxious. 
If so many of these religious find the questionairre and the ''visitation'' process problematic, so do I.  This is a story to watch.
My prayers are with them. 
Anonymous | 11/28/2009 - 8:49pm
If the Good Lord delivered Daniel from the lion's den, can't he please deliver us from these obstreperous, polyester wearing, angry women? Please? Amen.
Maria
Eugene Pagano | 11/28/2009 - 8:07pm
To the extent that the sisters are relying upon canon lawyers' advice that they were not required  to answer all questions, the responses do not seem to be disobedience or rebellious.  To this civil lawyer, it seems more like an assertion of a privilege, on the advice of counsel, not to answer, rather than a defiance of authority.