This reports on a sputtering speech given by Vatican official Archbishop Raymond Burke a contemporary of mine in Rome although I barely remember him. He's close to an aneurysm over the fact that some American nuns don't fall in line with Rome. The fact that thousands of American nuns are onboard with the President's health care reform has distressed Rome. The additional fact that thousands of American nuns are resisting Rome's apostolic inquisition visitation, is also vexing him.
If the Archbishop had hewn his message to a better core: belonging to an organization means subscription to its basic creed, he'd have been more convincing. Instead, he uses the words defiance, betrayal, disobedience and loyalty. His core message is "How dare those nuns...."
I bring you these things because they help us understand what it means to be Catholic. Ray Burke says it means unthinking allegiance to the Vatican. I say it means thoughtful openness to the perfect message of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospels. Ray Burke would say that is not enough of a foundation for membership in the Catholic Church and that there are two thousand years of tradition that one must honor. I would respond that those cheeky American nuns are honoring that tradition, just not the same chapters that Ray Burke wants them to honor.
The question becomes "Who owns the spirit of Catholicism and where does that spirit reside today?" American Catholics are fearlessly answering that question.