Pope tells nuns not to be spinsters

Pope Francis I appears on the central balconyIn an interesting speech, Pope Francis urged 800 nuns representing  international women’s congregations  to be mothers and not spinsters.

To review, according to Merriam-Webster, a spinster is
1 : a woman whose occupation is to spin
2: a: archaic: an unmarried woman of gentle family b: an unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying
3 : a woman who seems unlikely to marry

I don’t think The Pope is telling nuns not to spin. Nor is he telling nuns to get married of have children. He wants them to be chaste mothers. And if you think that’s impossible, just remember Maria, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, provides us with the precedent. But in case they can’t achieve immaculate conception, The Pope is fine with a spiritual, if not physical motherhood, or as he describes it,

“a fertile chastity, a chastity which produces spiritual children within the Church…. The ordained woman is a mother, she must be a mother and not a spinster! You are mothers, like the figures of Mary and the Mother Church…. It is not possible to understand Mary without maternity, nor the Church without motherhood.”

Another important thing for nuns is obedience, which Francis said means “to listen to the will of God…. Remember that the relationship between authority and obedience is located within the context of the mystery of the Church.” And, of course, women can’t do the work of Jesus without belonging to the institution of the Church: “It’s an absurd dichotomy to think one can live with Jesus, but without the church, to follow Jesus outside the church, to love Jesus and not the church.”

Among the nuns present were members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a group representing about 80 percent of nuns in the United States. The LCWR was reprimanded last year by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith under Pope Benedict, for their “radical feminism” and for not being sufficiently anti-choice. In April of this year, Pope Francis supported the mandate against the nuns.

So, yes to chaste motherhood, obedience, organized religion and no to equal rights for women. Noted.



Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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