Vatican v. Nuns: Sr. Iphielya Weighs In

Sr. Iphielya

Sr. Iphielya, the alter ego to my alter ego, is an occasional contributor to Mary Tyler Mom.  She is also the patron saint of empathy, hence, her name.  Sr. Iphielya is a little riled up with all this business about nuns in the news this week.  

I’m a good nun.  Or at least I try to be.  Following the Golden Rule, leaving the earth a better place, and helping my fellow human beings are all things I’ve taken seriously these many years of serving our Lord.  You can imagine my surprise when the Vatican explained that I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.

What’s that, you say?  You didn’t hear that?  Why, yes, yes it’s true.  A group of nuns from the United States went to visit the Vatican on official business just last week and learned that not only were we not doing the job right, but that we would now be supervised by a bishop.  You can read all about it here.

So now we are to understand that us nuns have been promoting, “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”  Hmmmm.  I’d like to take a ruler to the knuckles of the knucklehead that wrote that.  And I’ve no doubt that person is a man and a priest.

Yes, you see the Vatican also tells us that the bishops in America are, ” the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”  While Jesus didn’t teach me to keep my mouth closed if I can’t say anything nice, my mother did, so no comment on American bishops.  Cough, cough [sex scandals, adoption scandals, payouts] cough, cough.  So sorry, I must be coming down with something.  Just a moment while I get a lozenge.

Now where was I?  Oh yes, we sisters are to listen to the bishops, talk more about the “sins” of abortion and same-sex marriage, and less time focusing on poverty and economic injustice.  Oh, yes, and express no opinions whatsoever about political matters.  Apparently, we are to leave that to the bishops, too.

Why just two weeks ago, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria laid out the case that President Obama is following in the path of Hitler and Stalin.  Oh, yes, he did, you can read about it here.  Bishop Jenky is a learned man, holding a doctorate in divinity, don’t you know.  Well, then.  He must be right.  And certainly “an authentic teacher of faith and morals.”  Now where is that ruler when you need it . . .

The thing is, the American nun is a dying species.  We are right now 57,000 strong, but our median age is over seventy years old.  Are we truly what the Vatican is so worried about?  A group of women living an extinct way of life that understands the principles of poverty, chastity, and obedience (to JC, mind you, not the Pope) — is that really something to fear and dominate and control?

Thank you, Pope Benedict.  And thank you, American bishops, for you have just done for nuns what we have not been able to do for ourselves for years. You have shone a light on all our good works.  You have brought much needed focus and attention to the fact that we practice instead of preach. And because we have never been preoccupied with the power struggles within the church, as we were never invited to the table, you have shown just how powerful a group of old ladies can be.

If you want to show your support of American nuns, as 20K+ have already done, sign this petition at that will be sent along to the Bishop now charged with reigning us in.


4 Replies to “Vatican v. Nuns: Sr. Iphielya Weighs In”

  1. I don’t know if the Sister is real (the link indicates that she is and the picture indicates that’s she is certainly not 70) but she makes a lot of sense. If the Church wants to exhaust the supply of people who will teach in parochial schools for free, this is the way to do it.

    However, except for those of retirement age (and apparently most are), maybe the others should find another “vocation.” Telling the Pope (who was the former head of this organization, which used to be known as the Inquisition) something in a petition is like pleading with Mike Madigan for democracy and fiscal responsibility.

    BTW, since you mention rapping knuckles, the censored version of the Blues Brothers on TV made no sense, in that the Penguin was rapping their knuckles, even though the words “shit creek” were taken out.


    1. I know I have arrived at ChicagoNow with a comment from Jack. Thanks for reading, sir.

      As I said, Sr. Iphielya is “the alter ego of my alter ego.” She was born late last year when I found myself saying on many an occasion, “sister, I feel ya.” Eureka!

      The photo is my actual aunt, one of two who joined a midwest order and spent their life serving. She died in January. Growing up in parochial school and with two nuns in the family has given me a inside view into a fascinating way of life. I feel privileged because of it.

      You are welcome anytime, Jack. MTM.


  2. MTM- Thank you so much for this! I went to Catholic school in the 90s and priests came and went, but the few nuns at the school were the ones who really ran the place. They were fierce, strong women who were excellent role models. Don’t know if you saw Nicholas Kristof’s piece, but he agrees with you and seems to think the nun’s will triumph. I hope he is right!

    Thanks for everything you share. I always enjoy your blog and as a new mom, I think you are an amazing and inspirational mother.


    1. I could not agree more with your sense of the sisters, MMMD. I did see Kristof’s piece and enjoyed it quite a bit. Hard to bet against the nuns on this one.

      Thanks for reading, commenting, and your kind words. Best of luck to you in your own motherhood. MTM.


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