Make the story fit the paradigm!

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After about thirty years, the Benedictine abbey in Pecos, NM may have to give up its somewhat experimental way of life as an unofficial "double" monastery. I say "unofficial" because the men's community was founded in 1955, but the women's community associated with it has never been formally established as a monastery in its own right: the combination was considered a daring experiment when it started in the heyday of charismatic-renewal communities. I think couples and families lived there too for a time.

It seems that the Benedictine higher-ups in Rome and the Congregation for Religious have told the abbot to get this all reorganized in a more conventional way, so that the women would be under their own elected superior, and the women's monastery could have its own property not totally dependent on the goodwill of the monks.

Alas, it's not working out that way. Of the five women who resided there, three have decided to join existing monasteries elsewhere rather than form a new house at Pecos, which would no doubt be a big job. Of course, their departure pretty much scotches the project for the other two, who have to seek another solution.

When the NYT got hold of the story, little gears turned in the reporter's head, and he slotted it into a conventional paradigm: "liberal nuns vs. male hierarchy", and portrayed it as a clampdown:

the women were told by the Vatican that they were not nuns in the opinion of the church

Get the spin? The reporter takes a judgment that's probably a cut-and-dried matter of canonical facts -- e.g., "you didn't go through the usual procedure, so you aren't legally bound by vows as religious sisters; if you want, you can remedy that by doing [XYZ]" -- and he makes it sound like a personal snub based on "opinion".

Then, without having any interviews with the departing sisters (who wisely have been turning down the press), he portrayed them as refuseniks choosing to "leave the monastery altogether rather than submit to the requests from Rome".

Sorry, sisters, this Times guy's trying to draft you into the war of All Women against The Male Vatican Hierarchy. (I think he fooled Mark Shea into believing it.) I salute you for passing up that invitation!

1 Comment

Typical of the constipated NY Times liberal attitude--seeing the push by the Vatican for women to run their own monastic show-- so to speak- as male sexism. Does not the mainstream media understand anything??

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on January 10, 2006 10:49 PM.

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