As a lifelong practicing Catholic whose dissertation on a social history of a Catholic order of nuns earned a PhD from Stony Brook University, I wish to address Bob Keeler's column ["The Vatican, nuns and misplaced priorities," Opinion, May 3.]
Let us be clear about this. The duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- or, as Keeler would have it, "the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog" -- is to "promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world," in the words of Pope John Paul II. Nowhere in that statement is there room for Keeler's secular humanistic pragmatism, which promotes a majority-rules approach to religious belief.
Far from being a "thunderclap" dropped on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the congregation's formal assessment began in 2009, following many attempts since 1970 to reconcile the conference with the doctrine of the faith to which it claims membership. Keeler would have his readers believe that the accomplishments of nuns were overlooked. Not so, as demonstrated by the introductory paragraphs:
"The Holy See acknowledges with gratitude the great contribution of women religious to the church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by religious."
Among the doctrinal problems for which the congregation cites the conference is its tendency to go "beyond the church" and even "beyond Christ," which was the topic of the 2007 talk by Dominican Sister Laurie Brink. The radical feminist agenda of the conference has openly supported the ordination of women and disagreed with church doctrine regarding homosexuality, while remaining stunningly silent on abortion and the right to life. Some conference leaders don't want Mass celebrated by male priests. Their agenda most certainly is not about "pierced ears."
I hope that Keeler and his editors will, in the future, use more accuracy and less bias when writing about the Catholic Church. His distortions are unworthy of publication in a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper such as Newsday.
Peggy Regensburg-Drowns, Baiting Hollow