Regardless of your views on dissent within the Catholic Church this interview demonstrates a remarkable degree of diplomatic disagreement, thoughtfulness, and managed dissent between the Vatican and the group representing 80% of American nuns–even facing what has been called “difficult negotiations” by the nuns, and a nuanced drama by others.. One of Sister Patt Farrell’s primary rules is to never discuss openly any disagreements publicly until they have been expressed directly to church officials.
GROSS: Do you know what the options are? I mean, it seems to me some of the options include agreeing to the terms of the Vatican, changing the positions of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, changing some of the language it uses, or risk being perhaps excommunicated or leaving the church. Are those all options?
FARRELL: No, not exactly. We’re not talking about the risk of excommunication or leaving the church. That’s not our intent. We’re talking about the Vatican’s dealing with a national organization, not with specific religious congregations or individual religious.
So first of all, the one and only underlying option for us is to respond with integrity in however we proceed. That is our absolute bottom line in this. And some of the options I think would be to just comply with the mandate that’s been given to us or to, you know, to say we can’t comply with this and to see what the Vatican does with that or to remove ourselves, form a separate organization, or hopefully, in my mind, to see if we can somehow, in a spirit of nonviolent strategizing, look for some maybe third way that refuses to just define the mandate and the issues in such black and white terms.
Listen to the full interview with Terry Gross.