Here’s the problem with the commentary by Maureen Dowd and Nicholas Kristof about the supposed “crackdown” on nuns by the Catholic Church. Their bias against Catholic teaching results in misleading and inaccurate analysis.
Instead they make the issue about something that it isn’t about–feminism, male hierarchy, and “suppressing” women. They promulgate a false notion that the bishops who oppose the Obama Administration’s recent HHS mandate are waging a war against women. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic Church values all life, including those within the religious order. However, as Pope John Paul II said in 1996, “A distinctive aspect of ecclesial communion is allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops…because consecrated persons have a special place in the Church, their attitude in this regard is of immense importance for the whole People of God.” To be a Church, there must be unity of purpose and of beliefs.
The Catholic Church does not ordain women, homosexuals, or approve of gay marriage or abortion. Agree or disagree with these positions, but these are the beliefs of the Catholic Church based on its interpretation of scripture. Dowd and Kristof disagree and bash the Catholic Church as a result. Can you imagine them bashing Muslims or Jews for their religious beliefs?
Let’s take Dowd for instance. She writes that bishops are “bullying” and “muzzling American nuns.” The nuns are being “yanked into line by the crepuscular, medieval men” who “run” the Catholic Church. She compares the Vatican’s report to the Inquisition and argues that the Catholic Church is losing its soul and is therefore irrelevant. One wonders if she even read the report. The Vatican hasn’t been investigating all American nuns–only those expressing ideology that falls outside of Catholic beliefs. She doesn’t even mention why the Vatican is investigating a particular group of nuns. Neither does Kristof. In fact, they both go off on emotional diatribes about a faith with which they disagree.
Nuns have taken a vow of obedience, meaning that the “teaching of the church calls for the religious submission of intellect and will.” If they are breaking their vows, then they should reconsider whether or not they want to be a nun. If nuns or anyone else want to disagree with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, they have the option to leave it.
The problem is that the media doesn’t cover the Christian faith the same way that it covers other faiths or other entities. If an athlete wasn’t following the rules of the game, there would be repercussions. If an employee had deviated from the values of the institution for which he works or from the law, there would be consequences. If a member of a feminist group advocated that women should not work but stay home, there would be no difficulty in understanding why this would pose a serious leadership challenge to that organization. But the Catholic Church is held to a different standard.
Instead, the media wages a war against its leaders and accuses them of sexism.
The problem with the Times‘ analysis is that its writers use rhetoric instead of reason to cover the fact that they do not understand the complexity or the history of the situation. The Catholic Church has been investigating a particular group of American nuns for several years. Likewise, many nuns have been asking for leadership roles in the Church since the 1970’s after the Second Vatican Council. This is not new news. This recent diatribe is evidence of intellectual laziness on the part of Kristof, Dowd, and their editors and of a refusal to take the Catholic faith seriously. Instead, they devalue it, because they disagree with a policy they don’t understand.
It’s a sad day for the media when its members don’t even acknowledge arguments made by the other side or seek to offer critical insight into complex issues its readers might want to understand.