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Garry Wills hits a time warp

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 30, 2012

Defending the Leadership Conference of Women Religious against that nasty old Vatican in the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills invites the reader to step into a time machine and travel back to the early 1960s:

The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility.

No, wait. Wills says that is happening today. It’s been many years since the women of the LCWR were traveling humbly in pairs. But perhaps Will hasn’t been paying careful attention to developments within the Church over the past 50 years or so. He certainly didn’t pay much attention to the Vatican’s actual statement on the need for LCWR reform.

Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).

That’s not what the Vatican said, of course, on either count. But if you read the Gospel carefully, you’ve find that exactly the same number of words devoted to federal health-care spending as to contraception. (Regarding abortion, the phrase “thou shalt not kill”—from the Old Testament, but repeated several times in the New--comes to mind.) Yes, certainly you’ll find a mandate to care for the sick and the needy. But you won’t find detailed descriptions of preferred government policies. Yes, the “social Gospel” is the Gospel. But so is the Gospel of Life.

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