National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Vatican Report Praises Nuns' 'Feminine Genius,' Lacks Criticism on Abortion Issues

Vatican Report Praises Nuns' 'Feminine Genius,' Lacks Criticism on Abortion Issues

December 18, 2014 — A Vatican report released Tuesday heavily praised U.S. nuns' social work, marking a "sharp contrast" with the Roman Catholic Church's previous complaints that nuns have "promoted 'radical' feminist themes" about abortion and other issues, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the Times, the report comes from a multi-year Vatican investigation into U.S. nuns' actions amid concerns that some nuns were not promoting the church's stance on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

However, the report noted the nuns' "feminine genius" and said the church should act on Pope Francis' desire to give women a larger role in the church (Kington, Los Angeles Times, 12/16).

The report did not offer any direct criticisms of the nuns or demand they make any changes, although it recommended that nuns make sure their ministries are "in harmony with Catholic teaching" (AP/New York Times, 12/16).

Reaction

Various nuns said the report was well received. Sister Sharon Holland, head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said, "One can read the text and feel appreciated and trusted to carry on" (Los Angeles Times, 12/16).

The University of Dayton's Jana Bennett, who specializes in Catholic theology and ethics, said, "The report is clearly focused on cooperation. It's clearly focused on dialogue, which I think is not necessarily what people expected back in 2008 when this issue came up" (AP/New York Times, 12/16).