What follows -- if you click on the audio -- is an unusually frank conversation among two nuns and two Catholic writers about the clash of values that lies underneath the recent reprimands by the Vatican of Margaret Farley and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. But fist: a little perspective. From about 1850 onward, the story of America and the story of nuns are hard to unthread from each other. Nuns were there in the Wild West building hospitals in Gold Rush towns like Cripple Creek, Colorado and even facing down desperadoes like Billy the Kid. In the Civil War, nuns were on the battlefields tending the wounded of each side. In their early forays into this nation, nuns faced serious and scary resistance from nativists and Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan. And when you look at it that way, the little run of resistance they've had lately from the Vatican doesn't seem like much. And in a way, the events of the last five or six weeks are really an extension of a 50 year conversation about the nature of religious life in America. You could boil it down to: what are nuns for? Not everybody has the same answer.
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