Film Radical Grace Highlights Nuns’ Response to Vatican Reprimand

Radical GraceWhile the Catholic Church has sought to control US Nuns through what has been called the “New Inquisition,” it has been unsuccessful in its efforts.  The film Radical Grace documents the response of Sr. Simone Campbell, Sr. Jean Hughes, and Sr. Chris Shenk and is nothing short of brilliant.  Producers Rebecca Parrish and Nicole Bernardi-Reis chronicle their holy journeys in maintaining their vows by challenging the Vatican.  A full review of the film can be read here.

Please consider supporting the film through its crowdfund campaign.  The opportunity to meditate with Sr. Simone is incentive enough!  Congrats to Rebecca and Nicole on their fantastic project and much gratitude to Sr. Simone, Sr. Jean, and Sr. Chris for reminding us that “love is blind but obedience shouldn’t be.”

On April 30, the Vatican Doctrine of Faith “told the leadership group they were ignoring procedures for choosing speakers for their annual conferences and questioned if their programs were promoting heresy,” dashing hopes that the new pope would take a different attitude toward the nuns.

9 thoughts on “Film Radical Grace Highlights Nuns’ Response to Vatican Reprimand”

  1. Given that the majority of US nuns are well over 65, this witch hunt is particularly ill-advised, as if the church waited, in a few years there would not be a critical mass of nuns to worry about. Thus, it seems to me that the church is suffering from massively severe fear of feminism and fear of women’s power. (1994)
    In a survey of 1,049 sisters in the United States and Puerto Rico, The Times found that only 3% were 40 or younger; 37% were older than 70 and 12% were more than 80. The median age for nuns in the survey was 65.

    “American Catholics have no idea how very soon there will be no nuns,” said Sister Patricia Wittberg, a church sociologist at Indiana University and at a Purdue University facility in Indianapolis, after reviewing The Times data.

    Sister Eleace King, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, concurred. “It tells me that the majority of religious congregations of women in this country will not survive. Most are dying,” King said. You may wonder whether the global church the sisters belong to is interested in keeping the convents open. It sure seems like it isn’t. By 2005, the Catholic Church had spent $1 billion on legal fees and settlements stemming from priests sexually abusing children. Yet church leaders have allocated no funds to take care of elderly sisters, and while priests’ retirement funds are covered by the church, the sisters have no such safety net. When their orders run out of money, that’s it.

    “Why would you want to be a nun if the archdiocese is going to treat you like they do?” Ann Frey at the Wartburg said. “Their whole lives they’ve been obedient and done what they were asked to do, and now nobody is helping them?”


    1. These numbers are impressive, but do some Catholic women “retire” into nun-hood? If becoming a nun is the retirement plan, then the congregations would continue, perhaps thrive as the Baby Boomers begin to retire.


  2. There is a fantastic photo (taken in London, May 3, 2014) of a huge assembly of women priests, who marched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of women becoming ordained in the Church of England — see the Ecumenical News story here:

    At the same time, the Church of England has not yet approved the ordination of female bishops, and there are a number of other issues, as outlined in the article.


  3. Join us for conversations with Sr. Simone Campbell at kirkridge retreat center in the Poconos, 30 minutes from New York. June 20-22. Friday night dinner 6:30 thru Sunday lunch. $365 all Inclusive. To register or get more info, go to http://www.kirkridge. com


  4. Go ladies we’re with you all the way! In solidarity to dare to be fully who you are. This film stands in testimony for your spirit and questioning of authority as it ought to be questioned.


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