Many people, including some Catholics, misunderstand the disagreement between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization representing 80 percent of American nuns (“Nuns say questions are not defiance,” Page A5, June 19).
In a secular society, the democratic process is paramount. If the majority believe a church doctrine to be out of date, the thinking goes, then the church should modify that doctrine — even if only to retain members. The church, however, holds that its teaching derives not from popular views of morality, but from the authority of God. Groups or individuals need only accept this proposition, if they choose, as the nuns group has, to act with the church’s endorsement.
The Vatican has praised the group’s social endeavors, but is disappointed that the conference has been silent on, or even opposed to, longstanding church teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of women. The Vatican not only has a right, but a solemn duty, to require groups bearing its official approval, such as the nuns group, to defend and promote church beliefs even — indeed, especially — when those beliefs are unpopular or conflict with contemporary sensibilities.