American nuns address Vatican criticisms


by Reuters

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Too feminist. Too political. These are just some of the criticisms these two nuns are answering to at the Vatican. Their organization represents some 80 percent of the more than 60,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S..

In a blistering Vatican report in April --- the group was accused of promoting "radical feminist themes" incompatible with the church. U.S. Bishops and nuns have been at odds over social issues - particularly the group's support for President Obama's health care plan.

Leaving the Vatican, they appeared confident.

Sister Pat Farrell.

SOUNDBITE: Sister Pat Farrell saying:

"We are grateful for the opportunity of an open dialogue and we will.., the next step will be that we'll talk to our members to decide how to proceed from here." (REPORTER ASKS: "How was the atmosphere during the meeting?"). "We had open dialogue." (REPORTER ASKS: "Are you are going to have another meeting in Rome) "We are going to take this one step at the time."

Many nuns said they were hurt by the report, which they felt misunderstood their intentions and work for social justice.

Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella.

SOUNDBITE: Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella saying:

"Clearly now what they want to do is to enter a negotiation so as to be seen that they are not just capitulating to what the Vatican is demanding of them, but that they could have a say in the re-writing of statutes of their organization. They had an enormous amount of public support, there was a groundswell of support for these nuns when they were criticised by the Vatican, so they are very, very heartened by that."

Supporters of the nuns say the women have helped the image of the Catholic Church at a time when it was engulfed in scandal over sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Deborah Gembara, Reuters