Saturday, August 11, 2012

Anti-Nuke Leftists?

Shawn Poynter for The New York Times
Sister Megan Rice, 82, is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Is that so bad?

I think our all inclusive political divides are getting crazy and crazier.  If one is conservative one must be against everything conservatives are against; if one is a leftist, one has to be against everything the right wingers favor.  Me?  I'm against it.

On the anniversary of Hiroshima I noticed a headline on a Catholic news portal calling out Catholic leftists and Japanese bishops as being against nuclear power.  Like that is a bad thing.  Half the nation of Japan could have been exterminated last year after the earthquake and tsunami devastated Fukishima and spread radiation far and wide.  How far and wide?  Do you really believe anyone is telling us that?  Regardless, one must ask, 'why wouldn't Japanese Bishops be against nuclear power and armament, especially considering the dual holocaust of Nagasaki and Hiroshima'?  Is that so far out?

Nunsense - generates stats.

Though we Catholics continue the long tradition of school-boy/seminary-style mockery of nuns, especially now that many are radicalized New Agers, I wonder how fair we are in our snide criticism.  Anyone who reads me knows I don't buy into the gnostic-spiritualism the LCWR is incorporating into their horarium, nor do I consider 'school-sisters' real nuns - they are vowed women religious and are called 'sisters' - canonically they aren't nuns - nuns have perpetual vows and some variation of enclosure and stability.  I respect the sisters' work in parishes and their other places of employment, and hope they are faithful to Catholic teaching - some are not - and hopefully that will be corrected.
Late last month, Sister Rice set her sights on the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation, which covers more than 50 square miles, including wooded hills. Her aim was to draw attention to its nuclear work. After the break-in, the protesters released an “indictment” accusing the United States of crimes against humanity. - NYT/Sr. Rice 

However, it is not un-Catholic to protest nuclear-power/nuclear armament.  It is not un-Catholic to be a pacifist in the sense of the Beatitudes, or a conscientious objector, and so on.  It is surely part of being pro-life, don't you agree?  Aren't these anti-nuke nuns witnessing to the Gospel of Life?  Aren't there others who spend themselves defending the unborn, permitting others to work for peace and an end to war - specifically, nuclear war?
“It’s the criminality of this 70-year industry,” she said. “We spend more on nuclear arms than on the departments of education, health, transportation, disaster relief and a number of other government agencies that I can’t remember.” - Sr. Rice

I read a very good article on Sister Megan Rice, the elderly sister who broke into and vandalized the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago.  I did a post making fun of the break-in and protest.  My apologies - sincerely.  Because after reading this woman's story - her generous gift of self to Christ and decades of dedicated service to the Church, you have to step back and say, "This woman is not a left-wing-nut!"   She can't be relegated to crazy-old-aunt-in-the-attic status as some fellows like to say.  This woman has devoted her life to the Gospel, she's remained under obedience to her religious superiors, going wherever she was sent - for decades.  All without rewards, awards, money, possessions, popular-acclaim-or-followers-or-donations to enhance her lifestyle... you know what I'm saying.
“We slept in a classroom — no electricity, no water,” she said of her early days in rural Africa. - Sr. Rice

We can't write these women off just because we don't agree - or better put - understand what seems to us to be an excessive involvement in politics - when what they are doing is more certainly directed to human life issues.  The bishops are clearly embroiled in politics; from Cardinal Dolan inviting presidential politicians to a swank gala, to the entire USCCB concerned about religious freedom issues, as well as questionable-institutional-funding practices to maybe not so in-accord with Catholic teaching organizations.  
Sister Rice served six months in federal prison. “It was a great eye-opener,” she said. “When you’ve had a prison experience, it minimizes your needs very much.” - Sr. Rice

Confused?  So am I.  But I don't think that gives us license to mock, dismiss and condemn every Catholic activist we deem more liberal than ourselves.  I don't know anything about Sr. Rice's spirituality, nor her conscience, much less her state of soul, neither do I know if she gets into the LCWR stuff or the conscious evolutionary stuff?  I can't judge her and it is not my place to do so - yep, I'll call out heretical, occult spirituality - but that isn't the issue here.  Regarding Sr. Rice and her anti-nuke activism, upon more thoughtful examination, I see her doing a good work - she seeks peace and justice; indeed, she may be fulfilling a prophetic role.  Conscientious objectors sometimes commit civil disobedience - some saints have done as much.  Perhaps one day, in the not too distant future, some of us may end up sentenced for crimes of conscience.

Again, I apologize to Sr. Rice for making fun of her arrest, her person and her vocation.

Bl. Franz Jägerstätter (1907-1943)
Conscientious Objector

Just as the man who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. (Franz Jägerstätter)


  1. "All without rewards, awards, money, possessions, popular acclaim or followers or donations - you know what I'm saying."

    I know exactly what you are saying and I bet Larry will too, when he stops by later and says 'Mmmmmm' ;)

  2. Amen amen amen amen amen.

  3. .....If one is conservative one must to be against everything conservatives are against, if one is a leftist; one has to be against everything the right wingers favor. Me? I'm against it...... TERRY NELSON

    This is something that I have always been against. I notice it more here in the USA than I did in Germany. Yes, the US Media is "left-leaning" but that doesn't make FOX News the mouthpiece of Christian civilization (which many make it out to be). Many like my parents watch Fox News all day and their blood pressure goes up and they are angry all the time....

    The Republican party has traditionally been the party of the "main street business man" and not the average American worker. Americans tend to equate unbridled laissez faire Capitalism with Christianity and anyone reading Catholic social teaching of the past 150 years will be cured of that notion. I don't think any political party in the USA advocates or comes near Catholic social teaching. Too often I think Catholics (and Christians) in America are Republicans first and then Christians/Catholics second. This comes from not having a tradition in the USA of a Catholic political tradition. I can only use Germany as an example having lived there. Traditionally, the Christian Democratic Union (formed by the devoutly Catholic Konrad Adenauer after WWII) has been considered right of centre, socially conservative, pro life, pro family and yet they have always advocated a welfare state "on reins". Traditionally, they have advocated the Catholic principle of subsidarity what can be handled on a family/community level should be dealt with there before the state steps in.

    I too am extremely uncomfortable with subscribing to everything FOX news/Republican Party/CBS News/ABC News/Democratic party tell me I should subscribe to. I get my news from the Catholic press minus any neo conservative/liberal progressive rhetoric or bias.

    The other day was the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (The Catholic center of Japan). That abomination is something for which the LORD GOD has yet to visit our nation with 60 years is nothing in GOD's time. I am appalled when I hear people say, "well, it was war" as though that excuses it.

    Too often I am deeply offended by the mean spirited verbiage devoid of any Catholic/Christian decency spouted by both the right and the left.

    I admit my own mea culpa for criticising some who I hold to be liberal new age nuts.

  4. "And the third temptation of Satan from the cross was: theology is politics. People are not interested in God. The only there is the political order. And Satan, as it were, holding the tiny globe of the earth in his hand, said to our Lord, “All these kingdoms are mine. They are mine!” (Was he telling the truth for once?) And I will give them to You if, falling down, You will adore me. No adoration for the God above ME!” Politics! Three temptations form the cross. That is the business of Satan."

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen

    Why does she wear a t-shirt without a cross?

  5. Seems to me, to be a consistent pacifist, if someone is breaking into your home you should not call the police. You call the police because you want an unjust aggressor stopped by force. The officer is armed and prepared to injure or kill that criminal if necessary. A break-in is just a war in microcosm - an innocent civilian is unjustly threatened by the burglar, so you call in an armed militia to stop them - all without a formal declaration of war!

  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    No religious habit, no vocation.

  7. Nuclear weapons are not a political issue, they are a human rights issue. When we drop bombs on people we can't see from airplanes and can't see the damage we do and the terror we inflict on innocent civilians, we should not question why we would also tear the unborn children we cannot see from the womb. It's not lost on me that Roe v Wade happened on the heels of the Vietnam War.

    I don't know much about Sister Rice either Terry but I thank you for giving me the incentive to take a second look.

  8. Father Hardon tells us that "Paganism is Christianity without the cross". She is not wearing a habit. So, there is evidence, in some measure, that she has failed to live up to her vocation. A habit is not optional in religious life, notwithstanding all the eveidence to the contrary around us. She is not wearing a cross.

    So, however much this sister may wish to call attention to herself and the dilemma of nuclear arms in the United States, she is failing to live up to her vocation. There is a spiritual dissonance, as it were. Our faith, is not, as the liberation theologians would have us believe, a project for this world alone. It is disordered to think that a sister can focus her attention on this world as a substitution for preserving fidelity to the duties of her state in life: her vocation as a sister. There is no trick moral theology wherein one is exempted from these duties. If our eyes are fixed on this world to the exclusion of eternity then the equation is out of balance. We are apt to find ourselves in the postiion of being unable to locate the unsolved remainder for having failed to set up the equation properly in the first place.

    1. Thanks very much Maria - that makes sense.

      I personally was apologizing for the mockery and disrespect I directed towards her, and recognizing her contribution to society. I'm confused by religious life in the 21st century so I can't say one way or another regarding her observance. I don't know anything about the religious society she belongs to, nor their status in the eyes of the Holy See.

  9. This sister spent years living in remote missions, sometimes in near squalid conditions, but we're going to sit on a blog and judge her soul because we don't like what she is or isn't wearing? I'd love to see all Christ's Brides in full habit, but I'm not about to dismiss them all because they don't or because some of them have gone off the cliff. I work side by side with sisters who don't wear habits but they do spend their days getting their hands dirty taking care of the sick and the marginalized, including the mentally ill that no one wants to acknowledge even exist. They love the Holy Father, they keep their political opinions, assuming they have any, to themselves, and they are not living in the lap of luxury. I wish I made an iota of a difference in people's lives that one sister in particular has. But it appears she and her congregation would be dismissed by blogosphere critics because they don't wear a habit.

    It's not so important whether or not Sister Rice is wearing a cross so much as whether she carried hers in this life. God will be the judge of that and I'm going to leave that to Him and worry about how I'm living up to MY vocation.

  10. they do spend their days getting their hands dirty taking care of the sick and the marginalized, including the mentally ill that no one wants to acknowledge even exist

    I have spent the last 25 years of my life as a psychiatric social worker working with the mentally ill and the abandoned so, your assertions not withstanding, there are people in the world apart from the the religious sisters you work with who care for these people.

    You said: "This sister spent years living in remote missions, sometimes in near squalid conditions, but we're going to sit on a blog and judge her soul because we don't like what she is or isn't wearing?"

    As to your argument that it is I or the "blogoshphere" that has deterimined the need for a woman in religion to wear a habit I refer you to John Hardon SJ

    At first glance it might not seem necessary to emphasize that religious are to give public witness. What other kind of witness is there, we could ask, except one that is public? In fact, if it is not public, it is not even witness.

    But there is more here than meets the eye. The witness of religious is to be public three times over:

    It is public because the testimony they give is out in the open, for everyone to hear and see. In this sense, every true follower of Christ is to be His witness so that others may see the good works which faith inspires and give glory to God whose grace alone makes the practice of Christian virtue possible.

    It is public because religious are to give overt testimony of their consecrated profession. Indeed this is the distinctive feature of the apostolate of a religious, as compared with a secular institute. As the Church’s history makes clear, the primary apostolate of religious is not so much in what they do but in who they are, that is, persons whose “whole existence” is seen as a “continuous worship of God in charity” (Canon 607, §1). That is why the habit is an essential element of religious life. Either their garb gives constant public evidence of their dedicated state of life, or religious are untrue to their principal apostolic responsibility.

    Finally the witness of religious is public because they are to testify not only to their personal consecration, but to the consecration of their community. This is why the habit of religious is to be a sign of dual consecration: once of themselves as individuals, and once again as members of a dedicated society. A uniform habit, therefore, distinctive for each community and the same for all its members is essential if religious are to give public witness to their own and their community’s collective dedication to Jesus Christ.

    I have not judged her soul. I noted that depsite the inclination on the part of many men and women in religion to vow themselves to this world, rather than the next, a vocation demands otherwise.

    Finally, it is Rome, not this commenter who has deemed a habit a vital and contingent witness of religious life.

    One of the sad tragedies of those who seek their do their own will, who demand to live their lives as individual gods unto themselves is the division that ensues as a result. To wit, the foregoing conversation. The cross is not merely what wears on one's neck. It is a life lived in sacrifice: of one's will, one body, and one's spirit, a life of obedience and not self-assertion.

  11. Terry: I know you were apologizing..

    I don't know anything about the religious society she belongs to, nor their status in the eyes of the Holy See.

    I think that is the point. How on earth would we? She is wearing a t-shirt, lol. Kyrie eleison...

  12. The comment about how the sisters I work with spend their days wasn't a referendum on how you spend yours. It was in response to the knee-jerk reaction of some folks who think that, because a sister doesn't wear a habit, she can't fulfill her vocation or be faithful. Many of these same critics have never engaged in the kind of service you or the sisters perform.

    To my knowledge, the reason the Vatican has called the LCWR on the carpet isn't because they set aside their habits, it's because some of their members have publicly supported intrinsic evils. Soon enough, the issue of habits will be a non-issue because those orders which have cast them aside are not going to survive due to a lack of vocations. And not all of the orders belonging to the LCWR are mired in politics and disobedience to the Magisterium.

    One of the most loving and generous sisters I work with wears t-shirts all the time. When I'm tempted to cringe, I remind myself that no one is perfect and that God would be better served if I minded the log in my own eye rather than reaching over to take the speck out of Sister's.

    1. Anonymous10:57 PM

      Well said!

    2. Anonymous7:05 PM

      Freemasons go on about their burn centers all the time when people question their other activities and illicit behavior.

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    1. My apologies for any inhospitality you've met with here.

  15. This will be my last comment on this subject.

    Just a few weeks ago, I attended a Memorial Mass for a sister who did not wear a habit. She had just passed away the week before and I did not go to her funeral. Despite the fact that she battled cancer for some years and that chemotherapy sometimes debilitated her, she was still at work nearly every day until her illness finally forced her to bed. I didn't know very much about her except for her work at the hospital. My first temptation at meeting nuns who don't wear habits is perhaps not always so charitable as it should be. However, after her death, I learned many things about her that made me ashamed to think I had once almost dismissed her. She was devoted to Eucharistic Adoration and when another sister who had spent her life in missions retired to hospital work, she introduced that sister to a nearby chapel with perpetual adoration. When she became too ill to leave her bed, she sent her friend to make her scheduled Holy Hour for her in her place. I never knew that she wore the Brown Scapular until after her death when this, among other things, was revealed about her. I didn't know about the mission work she had done and schools that she taught in because I never got to know her.

    In fact, I think I was so smug in my attitude toward her for not wearing a habit that I didn't even know what day she died.

    Our Lord took her on the day of the most important Carmelite Feast on the Church's calendar. She died on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Would that my life in service to Him would be so highly regarded and may He have mercy on me for ever jumping to conclusions about someone's interior life because of their clothing.

    1. Little Way - the following is from Chase:

      "Terry, I don't know of you know how to contact "little way" but if you can, please tell her that I think what she said about the habitless nuns she knew was beautiful and that it seems God really did teach her a lesson in humility."

    2. Anonymous7:06 PM

      Habitless nuns need to move on with their lives and decide whether they want to be secular social workers, or Catholic religious.

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