Views & Voices

Often overlooked, Sisters are at the forefront of equality


What do you know about nuns?

I’m not talking about the caricatured, stereotyped and ridiculous portrayals by movies, television and popular culture (Dead Man Walking and a few others excepted). You’ve probably seen pictures of nuns marching for civil rights in the sixties. You may heard of the selfless sacrifices made by sisters in the missionary field.

Neil Roger, via FLICKR

And you may know a sister (or two) who have changed your life for the better.

I do. Several, in fact.

Sisters have been on the cutting edge of social issues (it can be argued) for over a thousand years — much of the hierarchy cannot claim even a fraction of the social justice work these women have accomplished. They have been working (often very quietly) to keep the fundamental message of Jesus alive — the message that compassion, dignity and respect is the only response to every human person.

What you may not know is this: they are also some of the fiercest advocates of social justice for LGBT persons.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic organization dedicated to promoting understanding and dignity for LGBT persons, has an excellent blog post about the work of religious sisters for LGBT equality.

Following is an excerpt:

It’s no secret–though it’s not well-known, either–that high on the list of Catholic supporters of LGBT equality are nuns. Communities of women religious have consistently been supportive of education, dialogue, and justice activities for LGBT people since the late 1970s.

After Vatican II, when nuns’ communities re-evaluated their charisms and ministries, they quickly realized that the church had long neglected lesbian/gay rights and that this was an issue that cried for justice. They responded positively and actively.

Johnson’s article highlights the reason that nuns can be so steadfast:

“American nuns don’t want to fight the official church, but neither are they likely to sacrifice the integrity of their consciences for the sake of peace.”

At New Ways Ministry, we are indebted to our Sisters for financial, spiritual, and practical support over our 35 year history. More New Ways Ministry programs have been held in convents and motherhouses than in any other type of Catholic facility by far.

Read the full post here — and follow their blog on Twitter — it’s a heartening voice in a religious climate that is often far from charitable.

So if you have a negative view about nuns, consider changing your mind. And if you know a sister who’s braving the forefront of equality — thank them. Send them this post, in fact.

We may owe them more than we think.

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