I am thrilled that the Vatican investigation into the supposed wrongdoings of the LCWR -- Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- nuns, to you and me -- has been brought to a conclusion two years early. This witch hunt, started under Pope Benedict XVI, has been a disaster for the Church's image.Who is more aligned with the gospels and the Church's mission than the selfless women ministering to the poor, teaching kids and healing the sick? But because of a couple of challenging speakers at a conference a few years ago, they were interrogated and given a
to oversee their affairs. No more clear sign could be had of the Church's continued need to subordinate its women and harassment its most ardent supporters.
It was troublesome that Pope Francis, elected two years ago, did not bring the matter immediately to a halt. No doubt he had to get the lay of the land and figure out the power structure before he made a move. But this scandal -- the persecution of devoted, intelligent and articulate women -- had to be dealt with eventually. Now it has been.
praised both sides for having engaged in prayerful, spirit-led dialogue that led to mutual understanding. But I see this as a fig leaf that gives the Vatican some cover for its former neo-patriarchal approach to solving the "problem" of the nuns. The LCWR has moved on, at least publicly. But there has to be lingering resentment of the shabby way they were treated. And they must wonder whether their victory has come at a cost. Will they be as willing in the future to invite viewpoints that challenge the verities of the male-dominated hierarchy? Has the Vatican "won" by showing that it is capable of slapping down its most loyal members (pleasing the conservatives) while also showing "mercy" (placating the progressives)? As with all cases of domestic abuse,
must leave psychological scars on the sisters, and a lingering fear of the abuser who says he's so sorry and won't do it again.