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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Black and White and Red All Over

So everyone and their dog (who is not going to heaven) Rollo, has been emailing me the story of the excommunicated nuns. It's such a sad embarrassing tale of woe, I hardly know where to begin.

I'll begin with, no one gets excommunicated anymore. You would think people would be excommunicated left and right, considering the amazing number of cafeteria Catholics. You don't get to pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe. If you have, you are not in communion with the Church and are ex-communioned by definition. But you are not excommunicated.

Excommunication means you are barred from the sacraments, and although there is a lot of talk about excommunicating people, I really can't remember it happening. There is a list as long as my arm of people that have been threatened with excommunication: stem cell researchers (that takes the list almost to my shoulder) and Madonna. I have a vague recollection of some South American cardinal who got married and flaunted his wife, who was hauled in front of Pope John Paul II and was shortly thereafter dumping his wife and crying on the Vatican steps. Still, he managed to not be excommunicated.

I'm not suggesting anyone is being too harsh with these nuns, the poor things. It's about time someone lowered the excommunication boom on this mess.

These sisters, who are no spring chickens keep in mind (the spokesnun is 82), believe that their Foundress is inhabited by the Blessed Mother. They are careful not to use the word "possessed" and the press has been unfair in it's use of the word "reincarnated". They never said their foundress was Mary reincarnated, but every newspaper that picked up the story sure did.

(Make no mistake, spiritual dumpster divers and cafeteria Catholics, the Catholic Church does not believe in reincarnation. You get the one soul and the one body. Don't be covering it in tattoos.)

So the Virgin Mary, living in the Foundress, tells the nuns what to do. They believe this, so they were excommunicated. Actually, there was one nun who packed her bags and got out of there. I think she's going to join another order. I should invite her to live here. We could use another set of hands with Sister Mary Fiacre.

The Cardinal who had to do the deed is besides himself. He had to excommunicate an 82 year old nun. He had to excommunicate people for the first time in 165 years. (He's not 165 years old himself. His predecessors never had to bar anyone from the sacraments either.)

It had to be done. Unless the nuns end up crying on the Vatican steps with the unmarried Cardinal, they are causing a terrible scandal.

Scandal. There is a word as misunderstood as excommunication. Excommunication doesn't mean you've been thrown out of the Church. You're still in the Church. You are barred from the sacraments. You could wear a uni-bomber hoodie and run out to a parish where no one knows you and receive the sacraments, but you would be piling onto your list of mortal sins. Even your scapular won't save you.

Scandal means that your behaviour is causing other people to sin. If nuns believe in Mary possession and reincarnation and that Mary is inhabiting a woman and telling people what to do, then it must be true. If Madonna (a Catholic girl!) can rag pick for her spiritual needs, so can we.

The cardinal had to stop the car before the wheels could fall off.

Luckily for the excommunicated nuns, someone other than Mary must have given them financial advice because, unlike the 86 year old nuns in Santa Barbara, these nuns own their own home. Ironically, it's that one nun who left who's out on the street.

But still(fully) in the church.


Robin M said...

Thank you sister. For some reason, when I was reading the press stories, I wasn't picking up on the part about the foundress "channeling" Mary and didn't understand. Thank you for posting about it. Now I understand.
I hope you don't mind, but I copied your post on my blog for those less enlightened souls who don't read your blog.


Unknown said...

Thank you Sister. Can you do a post about obedience sometime? I'm a Catholic mother of a 4 year old, 2 year old & a newborn. Since the newborn came, I feel like I spend all my time taking the other two in and out of the "time out" chair. "Don't play the baby while she's sleeping!" "Don't hit your big sister with your silverware." Normal parenting stuff but I'd feel better if I knew that it was also helping them become obedient Catholics when they are older. I'm sure you have words of wisdom from all your years of teaching 2nd grade.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! You did it yourself, Sister! Even YOUR scapular won't save you....not you're. Write the difference between You're and your ten times, please. Have it on my desk by tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Was this a test? I caught 2 grammatical errors without even trying. "I'm not suggesting anyone is being to harsh..." To? Too.

"Even you're scapular won't save you." You're? Talk about scandal!

Speaking of being barred from the sacraments (okay, so we weren't talking about this. But you did.) I heard a priest say recently that he had heard the confessions of Buddists and Hindus, that they just felt better having gone to confession. It was my understanding that only Catholics (and protestants in RCIA, shortly before being received into the Church) could receive this sacrament. So what's the straight skinny here?

Love your blog, Sister!

Jane said...

Regarding Buddhists and Hindus in confession, the priest could certainly hear their confessions, but he couldn't give them absolution. They wouldn't be receiving a sacrament, it would be sort of like talking to a counselor.

Hopefully he didn't try to give them absolution, because if he did, his bishop needs to take him aside for a little chat. But as long as the priest knows he isn't giving a sacrament to a Buddhist or a Hindu, just acting as a therapist of sorts, it's perfectly fine.

Anonymous said...

I know that you don't have to be Catholic to go to Confession.

I think that the confidentiality even extends to non-catholics.

Anonymous said...

I was excommunicated - 20 years ago. I had been abandoned by my first husband, then met a wonderful man who wanted to marry me, adopt my kids and have his own. The annulment took years to go through, abnd the priest said that if we simply lived together, without getting married, that was ok - but if we had a civil ceremony before the annulment, I would be excommunicated.
I suppose I had a choice - I can't bring myself to think that I made the wrong one.
In due course, the annulment was approved, the marriage was formalised and I was able to stop being excommunicated - I never got over the hurt.

Anonymous said...

Abigail, for what it's worth (from a mother of 6) if you make sure you spend enough fun time with them you won't feel so bad about all the time out time. Also remember they're not much more than babies themselves, though they seem gigantic and clumsy after having a new baby. My policy was not to scold them for poking and prodding the baby unless it actually bothered the baby. My babies have a much higher tolerance for that sort of thing than I do(they LOVE their big brothers and sisters) so I tried to go with baby's tolerance level rather than mine. I know you didn't ask me, and I'm sure SMM has more to offer but there's my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I thought those women who "ordained" themselves were excommunicated recently?

Anonymous said...

Here's my two cents on discipline, punishment is necessary for every act of DEFIANCE. (Never punish for spilled milk, etc.) God gives us clear instructions on right and wrong. He also gives us free will. When we CHOOSE to DEFIE Him we are guilty of sin. Parent your children as God parents us. When they know what they are doing is wrong then discipline must be administered. It teaches children to follow God's instructions.

Sparki said...

All those Call-to-Action folks in the Diocese of Lincoln are excommunicated. Not that they acknowledge that. They are frequently on the public access TV station bragging about how they take Communion anyway.


Anonymous said...

There's a difference between doing something that, in effect excommunicates us and doing something so scandalous that the Bishop or whoever needs to go through the process of obtaining the documentation.

Anonymous said...

Annie, a great place to discuss your problems more in depth would be the forums.catholic.org site.

You'll be in my prayers.

Richard Chonak said...

A lot of people who sincerely believe that they were excommunicated over marriage issues really weren't.

There's a difference between a mortal sin and excommunication.

First, a person may have done something gravely wrong; he may have incurred a mortal sin. Because of that, he is not in the state of grace, and is not well disposed to receive Holy Communion. This is the harm that sin does to us, and it's one of the intrinsic effects of sin.

But once a member of the Christian faithful repents and stops committing the sin, any priest can absolve the person in confession.


In contrast, excommunication is a legal penalty -- a separate matter from the moral/spiritual effect of sin. The Church's law only imposes this penalty for a small number of offenses, in order to indicate their extreme gravity. This legal penalty can only be removed with the bishop's authority.

As it happens, when Catholic couples "live together" with only a civil marriage, or with no marriage at all, it's a grave sin, but it's not a matter of excommunication. This has been the law since 1983, when the current Code of Canon Law took effect.

anonymous writes:

I was excommunicated - 20 years ago. I had been abandoned by my first husband, then met a wonderful man who wanted to marry me, adopt my kids and have his own. The annulment took years to go through, abnd the priest said that if we simply lived together, without getting married, that was ok - but if we had a civil ceremony before the annulment, I would be excommunicated.

If the priest really thought that it was OK for a couple to live together (and sleep together, etc.) without marriage, then he was giving you his personal opinion, but not Church teaching; I'm sorry to he said such a misleading thing.