Monday, August 13, 2012

Hooray for the Nuns!

Both in my personal encounters and in my reading of what American nuns are doing,  I have seen that the nuns represent what is best about the church as well as what is best about Christianity in general.  They are educating people, helping the needy, ministering to the sick and bringing hope to the hopeless.  On matters of theology, they are never stagnant but always caring and relevant.

One Benedictine nun explained an interesting phenomenon regarding nuns and their theological education. Most priests get all of their theological training in a time frame of four years of seminary. After that they are off to the parish and many get no further education beyond that.  Nuns, on the other hand, are often busy teaching in the schools and to get their theological studies they must go during the summer. The process takes much longer, but as a consequence their education is much more current than that of the typical priest.

Service and Integrity

Nuns have consistently provided much needed service in matters that contribute toward the common good.  They are the most reliable group for distributing charitable funds.  While other charities are sometimes plagued with men at the top embezzling funds or allocating monies away from the needed service and into administrative offices, you never hear of a nun absconding with cash or goods intended for the needy!

These are some of the reasons I applaud the “nuns on the bus” and celebrate their recent statement that they are rejecting the Vatican’s plans for a take-over/conservative make-over.  In these times, we should lament that there are fewer women choosing to be nuns rather than cracking down on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious over a few single-issue rallying points of some stogy old men.

A Witness from the Baptists

In the denomination I grew up in, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) was among the strongest and most reasonable voices within the denomination. On top of that they consistently did good work. The beauty of that organization was that it was an “auxiliary organization,” meaning that it was beyond the administrative reach of the denominational leadership. They gave 100 % of their efforts to the denomination, but they were their own separate organization. That arrangement became even more beautiful when the conservative (and fundamentalist) wing of the Southern Baptists took control of the denomination.  The all male leadership that wanted to keep women “in submission” had no way of touching the WMU because it was not a part of the SBC institutional structure. It was self supporting and served to raise money for missions (which the SBC gladly accepted) but the SBC leadership had no means of “reining them in.” They could not fire officers or withhold money they way they were accustomed to operating.

Carry On, Sisters

So to the nuns and all women out there I say, don’t lose heart, keep on doing what you are doing. 
Both the church and the world are better each day because of you!



  1. Yes, hooray for the nuns!

    And if you want to switch to another part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church--

    The Episcopal Church welcomes you! (Yes, we have religious orders for both women and men.)

    1. Thanks, Jay! Always good to hear from you.


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