Bishop’s Revenge on Nuns

This is the present state of health care– this is why we needed reform…

Arizona has become the first state to cancel its State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which, like other SCHIP programs, is funded jointly by the state and the federal government.

The budget passed by the legislature and signed into law by Republican governor Janice K. Brewer eliminates the $22.9-million program, known as KidsCare, as of June 15th. The program served 38,000 children living in families with incomes between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level ($22,000 to $44,000 for a family of four).

This is the reality that Catholic nuns are well aware of, since so many of them spend their days patching holes in the social safety net with their unpaid or underpaid highly skilled labor. This, no doubt, is the reason that American nuns gave crucial last-minute support to health care reform. And the nuns are being made to pay…

Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg has declared that religious sisters from communities whose leaders endorsed the final version of the national health care reform bill can no longer promote their recruitment events in his parishes or in the diocesan newspaper.

The nuns are claiming what sounds like equal rights of conscience…

“Based on our prayerful discernment and careful research with other Catholic-based groups and agencies advocating for comprehensive health care reform, we believe that the bill indicated that there will be no public funding for abortions and that it would not violate doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church,” said Sister Mary Pellegrino, moderator of the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden. With the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg, hers is one of two local communities whose leaders signed a March 17 statement drafted by the Catholic social justice lobby Network.

Full article here.

The Bishop is blocking parish events where the nuns would educate children about the religious life– a vital recruitment effort if orders are to survive the aging of their sisters.

It looks like an unequal contest, since Bishops have much more authority in the Catholic Church than nuns, but Bishop Brandt’s spiteful and impotent gesture might backfire. If I were an idealistic young woman considering the religious life, the Bishop’s ban would make me really curious about what happens when women speak truth to power.

If, on the other hand, I was the rebellious type who tucks up her uniform skirt so it’s above the knee, being banned would make the nuns look cool. It isn’t easy to do that, but keeping them away from youth bestows the lure of the forbidden.

Anyway, shouldn’t the bishops be repenting?

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One response

  1. As an outsider to both Catholicism and religion in general I cannot help note that in this dispute between the bishops and nuns, both sides want to forbid abortions and thus force women to bear unwanted children, in my opinion, a cruel and immoral policy. That said, at least the nuns are consistently “pro-life” in this regard, the bishops seem only interested in forcing their religious doctrine on all of us even if many lose their lives due to no health care coverage.
    But the political right-wing is just as hypocritical – they say they don’t want “big government” to intrude on our lives but (most) are OK with using the power of government to forbid abortions and thus destroy reproductive freedom, but of course, they think that only affects women so most don’t care. Also, forcing women to have children they cannot afford will cost the taxpayers plenty in the long run, so they are hypocritical about seeking to reduce spending too. Its all about power and coalition politics.

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