We like your habits after all, Vatican tells US nuns

SHAFAQNA – For years America’s nuns have been a thorn in the Vatican’s side, contravening traditional Catholic teachings by campaigning for more liberal positions on gay marriage and abortion. Now the Pope has decided to bury the hatchet and has ordered that they be recognised as heroines. In a report released yesterday, the Vatican praised the “feminine genius” of nuns and promised to carry out the Pope’s aim of giving women a bigger role in the church.

Nuns were in the “forefront” of the church’s mission to attend to the “spiritual, moral, educational, physical and social needs” of its flock, “especially the poor and marginalised”, said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz,head of the Vatican’s congregation for religious orders, which prepared the report.

Between 2009 and 2012, Vatican officials questioned US nuns after warnings of “a certain secular mentality that has spread in these religious families and, perhaps, also a certain ‘feminist’ spirit.” However, they have been lauded in America for their work in hospitals and schools, just as the reputation of Catholic priests has been muddied by repeated sex abuse scandals.

Sister Sharon Holland, a leading American nun, said that the report made them “feel appreciated and trusted to carry on”.

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