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Sister Brigid McDonald calls Vatican's reprimand of U.S. nuns group a 'misuse of power
MinnPost ^ | May 4, 2012 | Beth Hawkins

Posted on 05/06/2012 1:27:25 PM PDT by NYer

Sister Brigid McDonald

MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Sister Brigid McDonald on Pope Benedict XVI: "I can't even begin to imagine what he could say or do that would change religious women's beliefs."

As a rule, Sister Brigid McDonald tries not to pay too much attention to papal pronouncements, but Pope Benedict XVI’s recent decision to rein in American nuns, found by a Vatican investigation to harbor “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith,” caught her attention.

Last month, Benedict announced that a four-year Vatican investigation had found the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has challenged church teaching on homosexuality, the ordination of women and the 2010 health-care reform popularly dubbed Obamacare. Nuns, the investigation also concluded, spend too much energy on poverty and economic injustice and not enough on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Leaders of the group, which represents some 80 percent of U.S. nuns, including McDonald's order, are not yet ready to speak publicly about the Vatican’s decision to appoint a bishop to oversee five years of reform, screen every speaker at its public programs and replace its handbook for talking about matters the Vatican said should be settled doctrine.

At 79¾ years old, McDonald is not about to stop calling things like she sees them. One of three biological sisters who are all members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, where she devotes her time to the peace movement, she doesn’t seem to fear Rome’s displeasure. All of which must make her precisely the kind of radical the Vatican hopes to whip into doctrinal shape.

McDonald recently shared her personal reaction to the news with MinnPost. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.

MinnPost: What are you hearing in your community about the decision?

Sister Brigid McDonald: Well, some are shocked that he would go that far, you know, to start using his power. To me, it is a misuse of power, a misuse of authority where he can step into religious communities and dictate how they should speak about these issues.

MP: When you say “he,” you are talking about Benedict?

SBM: Yes. I still call him Ratzinger. That fits him better. But that is just a personal bias.

I think they are overstepping their jurisdiction to expect that nuns are going to think as they tell us to think. To me those issues are not spiritual issues; many of them are political issues and some, of course, are social justice issues. I think that our personal spiritual life, it is another matter and that is our private belief.

I can't even begin to imagine what he could say or do that would change religious women's beliefs. I don't know how he plans to change that. That is of concern. That could be scary — what will he do to change our beliefs. You know, that scares me.

MP: Can you speak a little bit more about that, the difference between changing your belief and silencing you, and where that line gets murky?

SBM: You are right, those are two different issues. If he wants us just to shut up about how we believe and don't put it out in public,  that is one issue. Or if he is really trying to get us to make statements that are opposite of our beliefs, I don't know what his motivation is for this. Other than control, I don't know what his motivation is.

I think it is pretty impossible for us to all change our beliefs on these issues to coincide with his beliefs. That sounds impossible.

MP: Can you stay silent about a belief that you hold in good faith?

SBM: I personally would never choose to. But I don't write and speak publicly for the community. I sometimes give talks about the peace movement, because I am in the peace movement quite heavily. Sometimes those things overlap, you know, the social justice issues and the peace and justice issues.

When I am speaking, I am not giving an official stance of The Sisters of St. Joseph. I wouldn't. Mine always is my personal reaction of what he is doing. Nobody is going to speak for the whole community. It is too hard to speak for hundreds of women. They aren't all going to talk alike anyhow.

MP: Can you tell me what you are hearing? Are people afraid?

SBM: It is interesting. The nuns that I talk to aren't really afraid, because they can't see or they can't imagine what he would do to change us. I mean, like, excommunication? That is a thing of the past. You can't excommunicate hundreds of nuns.

Wouldn't that be kind of funny? Excommunicate the whole order! It is irrational. I don't know what other consequences there would be.

MP: One thing that I have been told is a bishop will now screen all of the speakers at your meetings. Will that have any practical effect?

SBM: Now that could affect our college, the St. Catherine University. And we do still have some high schools. But they have stepped in before to say we can't talk about this or that. I am not affiliated with any schools, so I don't know how their curriculum gets around those issues.

But I know he has tried to silence people in our schools. That could be a very severe possibility, to silence some of the voices, really the social justice voices, you know. Maybe they get around it some way. I don't know. 

Why is he picking old nuns? More than half of us are over 75. We are almost an endangered species now. If he is trying to really change the church, he should start at the level with youth and talk to youth groups or something like that.

He should start with getting his priests together and try to help them through some of their problems. He should get after them for molestation.

MP: Somebody suggested to me that nuns in the past had enjoyed some latitude because you were thought to be powerless, and that in a strange way, this might be recognition that your ministry is powerful.

SBM: That is good insight. Because [before] we were just school teachers and we just had nice little kids in front of us, you know, and we just emptied bed pans in the nursing homes and in the hospitals. But now they are right, we are out there in the different movements. We help with the Occupy movement and the right-to-choice movements.

It is giving us more credibility in the public. Lots of times people will call and seek out our opinions about certain issues, where it never was that way when I entered the convent. After we taught school, we went home, and said our prayers and ate supper and did our lesson plans and went to bed. Now we are out there.

MP: The other thing people have said is possibly dangerous about nuns is that you understand church teachings and can talk about the ways in which they might be being subverted or perverted.

SBM: Nuns [traditionally] haven't been educated in theology. There are more theologians now. We go to workshops and we are at schools and we are taking classes and people are going on for further degrees in theology and stuff like that. So, maybe that is a threat that we are getting educated, especially in theology.

I see the bishops and priests don't get updated in theology. They are still back, for an expression, with Noah's ark.

But, that is a point: People will ask our opinion of theological insight and possibly not ask Father anymore, you know. So, he might be losing his authority in theology particularly.

We should get into cooking or something, I suppose he thinks.

MP: Who do you think will be hurt by this move?

SBM: I have a feeling women theologians who are partners with the nuns and some of our teachers in our schools will be really hurt. It will be a fear hurt and they may not feel free to speak out.

I am suspicious of the motivation. I don't think it is for the common good. They are trying to get us back, bring us back, as it was in the beginning and now as it will ever be, amen, or something like that. They want us back in the habits and being obedient. You don't belong out here with social workers.

MP: Do you think that it will work?

SBM: I can't imagine it working. I think we are too wrapped up in the issues of the time. You can't just forget the common good and the people who are suffering right now. The more you are with those in pain, the more radical you become to overcome that pain. I don't think it is possible to go backwards.

I really feel that Jesus would want us to go forward and to be out there where the people are in pain. I believe that about Jesus. I always say, Jesus never said worship me, he said follow me, so that is what I am trying to do.

We haven't got any more habits left anyhow. We would have to find those all over again.



TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues
KEYWORDS: convent; convents; exorcistwanted; nonserviam; nunofthis; nuns; sistersnotnuns
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To: NYer

She looks angry and miserable. Repentance would give her peace in her last years. I’ve met a number of lovely religious men and women in recent months: Franciscans of Perpetual Adoration, a Benedictine brother who told me every day in Belmont Abbey was a total joy, and just yesterday, brothers of the Missionaries of Charity.

One brother, a Kenyan who had previously been posted in Jamaica and Uganda, had never been up-close with northern European types. He asked if my little boys were sick, because he could see their veins through their skin! I assured him they were in excellent health - “Look at them eat!” - just naturally pale!


51 posted on 05/06/2012 7:45:08 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Skip the election and let Thomas Sowell choose the next President.)
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To: Tax-chick

Sorry, that was Missionaries of the Poor, Father Ho-Lung’s order. We also have Missionaries of Charity here, but I have not visited their foundation.


52 posted on 05/06/2012 7:46:14 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Skip the election and let Thomas Sowell choose the next President.)
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To: NYer
...we were just school teachers and we just had nice little kids in front of us, you know, and we just emptied bed pans in the nursing homes and in the hospitals. But now they are right, we are out there in the different movements. We help with the Occupy movement promote the evil of Socialism and the right-to-choice movements promote the murder of innocents.

Unless she repents and stops promoting evil there is most assuredly a place in hell with her name on it

53 posted on 05/06/2012 8:28:05 PM PDT by DBeers (†)
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To: GeronL
I can't even begin to imagine what he could say or do that would change religious women's beliefs."

Well, lady, if you don't buy into the theology, stop using the brand to promote your own. If you want to do your own thing, become a Quaker. Or start your own church. Even if I own a McDonald's franchise, I can't decide to start putting alligator meat on the menu just because I think it is healthier than hamburger.

54 posted on 05/06/2012 8:50:14 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: samiam1972
Our wonderful young new priest gave a lovely homily about these nuns today and discussed the pruning of the vine to make it stronger.

In this case, I think an analogy of removing noxious weeds to keep it from choking and killing the vine would be more appropriate.

55 posted on 05/06/2012 8:52:48 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Vigilanteman

exactly


56 posted on 05/06/2012 8:55:50 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: NYer
Sister Brigid McDonald: Well, some are shocked that he would go that far, you know, to start using his power. To me, it is a misuse of power, a misuse of authority where he can step into religious communities and dictate how they should speak about these issues.

The Leadership Conference was set up by the Vatican, and it has always been under the auspices of the Vatican, so what did they expect? If they are teachers of the Faith, doesn't it make sense that the Vatican would be interested in making sure that what they proclaim publicly comports with Scripture and Church teaching?

57 posted on 05/06/2012 8:56:07 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: COBOL2Java
How are their vocations doing? I would guess that this issue of communities in opposition to the magisterium would self-resolve in about 10-20 years.

Might not even take that long. Sr. Brigid is 75, and I don't believe there are many in her order who are much younger than she. Since the 1980's, and the nuns started getting into the 'Social Justice' arena, and moving away from Church teachings, they haven't had much in the way of novices. Why would a young woman with a desire for a religious vocation be drawn to that?

The Communities of Religious Women that have been growing since the 80s are the ones that have stayed close to the Church, and several new Orders have begun in just the last 10 years, or so. Most of the Sisters wear habits, some less elaborate than others, but it's clear that they love God, and want to serve Him. Unlike their elder sisters, they don't seem to consider teaching and nursing demeaning.

58 posted on 05/06/2012 9:28:05 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Morgana

Love It.


59 posted on 05/06/2012 9:30:44 PM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: SuziQ
79¾
60 posted on 05/06/2012 10:13:14 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: Salvation
"Where is her habit and head gear?"

Instead of the joy of knowing and serving our Lord there is a sincere and extreme sadness in her face that no doubtedly reflects her soul. She needs our prayers.

61 posted on 05/06/2012 10:39:59 PM PDT by Natural Law (God, be merciful to me, the sinner!)
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To: NYer
a four-year Vatican investigation had found the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has challenged church teaching on homosexuality, the ordination of women and the 2010 health-care reform popularly dubbed Obamacare. Nuns, the investigation also concluded, spend too much energy on poverty and economic injustice and not enough on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Yesterday at the Mass that is closest to our house, but not the parish of which we are members, in the homily the priest started talking about how much he disagreed with the sisters being reprimanded, how the issues that they were being reprimanded for were "unimportant" and how the work the sisters did for the poor was so much more important. He said it was wrong to criticize them, etc.

I had only suspected the Leftist nature of this priest before and his laid back attitude toward the Mass is why we are not members there and one reason why we are homeschooling instead of putting our kids in the school associated with that parish. However, yesterday was the first time he made statements in his homily in direct contradiction of the Pope. Calling the HHS mandate, abortion, gay marriage, etc. "unimportant" issues really leaves little doubt in one's mind where this priest's priorities lie. I'm not sure what action I shoudl take, since we are not members of this parish.

62 posted on 05/07/2012 7:33:34 AM PDT by Elvina ( crimethink - To even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc.)
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To: Salvation
Where is her habit and head gear?

Threw it in the trash years ago, along with her Bible, her Catechism, and her soul.

May God grant her the grace of repentance and conversion.

63 posted on 05/07/2012 7:39:09 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Darren McCarty
I've seen it right here in the Ann Arbor area of all places. The Dominicans here are traditional and also very active in their support of life.

Loved seeing those Ann Arbor sisters witnessing on "Oprah" a few years back. If only all nuns were like this!

64 posted on 05/07/2012 7:45:13 AM PDT by Elvina ( crimethink - To even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc.)
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To: samiam1972
Our wonderful young new priest gave a lovely homily about these nuns today and discussed the pruning of the vine to make it stronger. I say it’s about time!

Our not-so-wonderful old priest gave a disturbing homily about these nuns yesterday, and said how it was wrong to criticize them over "unimportant" issues when they were doing such good work for the poor. This is the church we only occasoinally attend, as selling free-trade coffee after Mass is clearly a bigger priority for them over the unborn. The prayer list always includes the homeless, but never the unborn--and so on. But it wasn't until yesterday that I realized that this priest is a full-blown unapologetic Leftist, unafraid to publicly oppose the Vatican. I wrote to the Deacon's wife today who I know personally to try to get a feel for the reaction to this atrocious homily.

65 posted on 05/07/2012 7:54:55 AM PDT by Elvina ( crimethink - To even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc.)
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To: Elvina
I'm not sure what action I shoudl take, since we are not members of this parish.

Same Diocese, though. Write a letter to the Bishop. This Priest needs to be corrected.

66 posted on 05/07/2012 8:04:50 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

I will do this. Do they keep these letters confidential, or will this priest end up knowing that I wrote this letter?


67 posted on 05/07/2012 8:29:41 AM PDT by Elvina ( crimethink - To even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc.)
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To: Elvina; A.A. Cunningham
I have reached the point where I don't care if "these letters" are kept confidential or not ...

Keep it polite, professional, and most of all truthful ...

And let the chips fall where they may.

IMO.

YMMV.

68 posted on 05/07/2012 8:36:15 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: ArrogantBustard
And let the chips fall where they may.

Yes, I suppose you are right about that. This priest never remembers who I am anyway! LOL

69 posted on 05/07/2012 8:40:22 AM PDT by Elvina ( crimethink - To even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc.)
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To: Elvina; NYer; A.A. Cunningham

My FRiend NYer has some experience butting heads with recalcitrant, unorthodox priests.


70 posted on 05/07/2012 8:43:14 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Elvina

In my experience they just give the priest your beef and name, at least in Richmond diocese. I complained to the bishop’s office once about some things via e-mail, also about a parish I was visiting, and simply got a nasty e-mail from the priest I complained about soon after. Problem resolved I guess. Of course I didn’t say in the email not to give my name, but yeesh. It wasn’t like I was raving or used cursing(the priest didn’t either, to his credit). Ah well, maybe it makes sense to handle it that way. But I wonder if they would have even looked into it if I had just sent a letter and not signed it.

Freegards


71 posted on 05/07/2012 8:45:39 AM PDT by Ransomed
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To: A.A. Cunningham

LOL! Yeah, I didn’t read closely enough. I knew she was old, though, as are most of her fellow Sisters in the old Orders. Those Orders are dying out, but I guess the Pope just wanted to give them another reminder of Jesus’s teaching about millstones to those who confuse the faithful. ;o)


72 posted on 05/07/2012 3:56:55 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Elvina; samiam1972; ArrogantBustard
I wrote to the Deacon's wife today who I know personally to try to get a feel for the reaction to this atrocious homily.

Good morning all and thank you, AB, for the heads up to the ongoing discussion. Elvina, you note that you are not a member of this parish yet attend mass here on a regular basis. Without membership in the parish, you have no voice with the bishop other than that of an observer. As an outsider, you have the flexibility of attending mass at a different parish.

The purpose of a parish is to form a community. As with any family (i.e. community), there will always be differences of opinion. For example, I happen to reside in a RC diocese run by one of the most progressive bishops in the US. He was appointed by the pope, at the recommendation of the now deceased uber liberal Archbishop Jean Jadot, Pope Paul VI's apostolic delegate to the United States from 1973-1980. He was also one of the youngest bishops appointed - translation - he has been serving in this capacity for 30+ years. During that time, he has dismantled the diocese, closing churches and schools. The remaining churches are run by 'like minded' priests. With few vocations over these decades, some remote parishes are now priestless and managed by lay people appointed by the bishop. The bishop wanted to be a street priest. This is a classical example of someone whose excellent work among the poor drew positive attention and resulted in being promoted to incompetency.

I cite the above to demonstrate how, even at the higher level of a diocese, catholics are subjected to homilies and liturgical novelties, approved by a more progressive or conservative bishop or priest. Meanwhile, those who do not share these views, have formed an underground movement where information on more devout liturgies, is exchanged.

As freeper AB noted, I have experience with successfully combatting liturgical abuse. I was able to do so, though, as a member of a parish community. There are procedures to be followed in this regard but opinions expressed by a priest in his homily, unless they are heretical, do not qualify as abuse. You can learn more about it at this link.

Let me assure you up front, that it takes tremendous strength to go through the proper procedures as you address it to increasingly higher levels of the hierarchy. Bishops are quite powerful. Specific facts, supported by documentation, not opinions, are necessary.

As an aside, I notice that you reside in Michigan. There are several Eastern Catholic Churches in that state. You may want to consider exploring this alternative. Though raised Roman Catholic, I am now a parishioner at a Maronite Catholic Church. The liturgy is reverent and beautiful, the priest is young (only 33), the homilies are based on that Sunday's gospel; no personal opinions are expressed. Eastern Catholic communities tend to be smaller and more personal. Everyone pulls together, working with the pastor, to ensure the continued viability of the parish. As our young pastor always points out, he is there to serve us. The bishop, in this regard, moves priests every 8 years. This also ensures that priests do not become attached to a particular community.

Apologies for the lengthy response. Just wanted to provide the big picture.

73 posted on 05/08/2012 5:00:15 AM PDT by NYer (Open to scriptural suggestions.)
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To: NYer

God help them I have never heard a sister talk like that before. I knew they existed but to hear how her mind works. What about their vow of obedience. do they even still take them?? (rhetorical)


74 posted on 05/08/2012 5:11:31 AM PDT by MomwithHope (Buy and read Ameritopia by Mark Levin!)
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To: NYer

I had no idea Benedict....errrr...”Ratzinger”....was going around “silencing” people!!!

How does he do it?
Is he threatening them with violence if they speak?
Is he duct taping their mouths shut in their sleep?

I was under the impression he was simply doing his job....upholding catholic teachings.

These ladies can speak as loudly as they’d like.....somewhere else. Afterall....we know the reporters will follow them everywhere they go.


75 posted on 05/08/2012 5:15:20 AM PDT by Scotswife
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To: bboop

A couple/three years ago my husband and I were blessed to be able to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and EWTN and the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery there. The cloistered convent there is doing *very well* for vocations and rumor has it so are other traditional or what some would term “old fashioned” orders. Yes, the times they are a-changing.


76 posted on 05/08/2012 5:24:07 AM PDT by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Vigilanteman

He’s a new priest already facing a lot of hurdles in a dying church. He has to tread carefully. He’s shaking things up all over the place. It makes my heart swell that there are good young men filling in for the aging hippy priests I grew up with.


77 posted on 05/08/2012 7:09:44 AM PDT by samiam1972 ("It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."-Mother Teresa)
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To: Elvina

I’m so sorry! Our new priest replaced one like yours. Every homily was social justice. We left the parish(within walking distance!) and started driving half an hour into downtown to Mass every Sunday where there is an amazing holy community made up mostly of homeschoolers from all over the KC Metro area. However, now that Fr. B has taken over we are dividing our Sundays in order to support him. I hope your priest retires soon and you get a replacement like we did. Every homily makes me want to stand up and cheer! I don’t but in my head I do! :o)


78 posted on 05/08/2012 7:15:40 AM PDT by samiam1972 ("It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."-Mother Teresa)
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To: savagesusie
These “nuns” are Marxists who infiltrated the Church to tear it down from within. Same with the homosexuals. The Pope is correct. These women are stupid and indoctrinated into Marxist ideology and can not even understand simple Natural Laws.
Any logical person, and theologian, knows that Marxist ideology-—the elimination of the Natural Family and killing babies and stealing private property is against ALL moral codes—not just the Catholic Church. Charity can’t be practiced by governments. They steal. Charity depends on freedom which only Capitalism and Free Markets and Virtuous people can create. History proves this. (Oh yes, these women are too stupid to observe history).
The Pope needs to clean house.


Very well said :)
79 posted on 05/08/2012 11:56:12 AM PDT by thesaleboat (Pray The Rosary Daily (Our Lady, July 13, 1917))
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To: NYer

Hmmm. Didn’t the “Sisters” take a vow of obedience among other things?

Time to close ‘em down.


80 posted on 05/08/2012 12:24:33 PM PDT by Little Ray (FOR the best Conservative in the Primary; AGAINST Obama in the General.)
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