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Published: Sunday, 9/13/2009

Nuns deserve fairness

U.S. Nuns deserve better from Vatican investigators assessing their religious orders and adherence to Catholic doctrine. The church has the right to scrutinize its own, but why Rome ordered two inquiries and how they are being conducted has raised alarm in religious communities.

More transparency about the process and what precipitated it might help quell suspicions that the Vatican is appeasing conservative Catholics upset about a perceived liberal drift among sisters. Since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, many nuns no longer wear habits, live in convents, or work in Catholic institutions such as schools and hospitals.

But what has drawn the wrath of traditionalists is how outspoken some nuns have been on advocating change, including ordaining women and married men to be priests.

Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair heads the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious an umbrella organization representing 95 percent of the nation's 60,000 nuns. Openness on his part about what is being feared as a doctrinal inquisition, could ease concerns. The secrecy and questionable motivation of the Vatican inquiries have mobilized the nuns to seek full disclosure from Rome, and sparked letter-writing campaigns in their defense.

The nuns want to know why they've been targeted, who's funding it, and why they won't have a chance to review or respond to reports. After all their unsung labor for the church, isn't that the least they deserve?

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