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An Italian nun is a singing sensation, and I don't care.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 24, 2014

During the past week, at least 100 people have sent me links to stories about the nun who has wowed a TV audience with her singing on the Italian version of the popular show, The Voice.

Great. Wonderful. I hope she wins. If your cousin goes on that show, I hope he wins, too. But please don’t ask me to believe that this is some breakthrough for Catholicism.

A certain number of people in the world have terrific singing voices. It isn’t terribly surprising that one of them is a nun. It’s no more surprising than finding that, say, a schoolteacher or a bus driver or a waitress or a brain surgeon had some special musical talent. It happens.

What’s surprising, in this case, is not that Sister Cristina Scuccia can sing, but that she does sing—on a popular TV show. She isn’t singing religious music. She isn’t even singing particularly good music. She’s singing a pop song, for a pop show.

Now you may be waiting for me to play the curmudgeon, and say that nuns shouldn’t sing pop songs. That’s not my point. I don’t begrudge the young woman her own form of recreation. If she enjoys singing, and does it well, more power to her. But recreation is one thing, and taking the plunge into the world of TV entertainment is another. I have trouble understanding how the latter relates to the vocation of a consecrated religious.

My correspondents are delighted with Sister Cristina’s performance because, they tell me, it will make nuns popular. If this televised episode has convinced scores of young Italian women to consider religious life, then my correspondents are right, and my objections are silly. But I have my doubts.

By performing on the TV show, this talented young Italian nun has shown that she can perform just as well as countless other aspiring entertainers. She can enter the world of pop music. But that’s not her vocation, is it?

A young woman wearing a religious habit can belt out a pop song. That’s not surprising. Would the show have been markedly different if the singer had been a professional musician masquerading as a nun? I have no doubt that Sister Cristina is dedicated to religious life, but it’s not that dedication that comes through in her performance. When she sings, she sounds like the other contestants who are aching for a chance to become rich and famous in the glamorous world of pop music.

So while I’m not scandalized by a nun singing pop music, I’m not edified, either. I’m not terribly impressed that she can act like a wannabe rock star. I’d be much more excited if she could convince some of her fellow contestants, and some of the show’s fans, to act like wannabe nuns.

As Sister Cristina enters the world of entertainment, the key question in my mind is: Who’s influencing whom? Is she learning to act more like a pop star, or are the pop stars learning to act more like Christians?

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  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Mar. 25, 2014 9:17 PM ET USA

    I'm with you, Phil. The sight of a habited nun gyrating is rather incongruent. I suggest we pray that she is able to withstand the pressures of the pop singing world and that she truly is a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Mar. 25, 2014 8:04 PM ET USA

    My thought is that being famous for this may be something that could help her connect with children or teens if she does youth ministry. And if she sings other songs on the show they could be more religious ones now that she has made it through the try-out round. Certainly, simply the fact of a sister being on this show singing pop songs is not likely to convert anyone. I am not a lover of pop music, but I was entertained by the clip.

  • Posted by: jlw5096959 - Mar. 25, 2014 2:04 PM ET USA

    I loved the video. I have an intuition (is that still allowed?) that J-Ax is in some kind of life transition, and li'l Sr. Cristina, as the Quakers say, "spoke to his condition." What's "news" here, is not that she's is a great singer,nor that "No One" is an inspired text. But something just leaped out and grabbed J-Ax, almost floored him. Thunderstruck with pure joy. Here's a woman not twerking, not covered w/ glitter, not 99.5% naked, just singing as a gift. Pure gift, pure friend. Rejoice!

  • Posted by: stan.sienkiewicz3391 - Mar. 24, 2014 6:06 PM ET USA

    I too hope that Sister will have a positive influence on pop stars and it was good to see a religious person in public showing happiness. I felt the same when the Dominican Sisters were on the Bible trivia show. People need to see that religious are enjoying their lives and sometimes that means having a little fun. I am no pop music lover but the song was nice and not foul or rude.

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