Especially when she's also a Professor of Philosophy.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review interviews Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: During the recent health-care debate, we heard a lot about some Catholic religious sisters — the Network — who supported the president’s health-care legislation, despite abortion-funding issues. Were they representative of the Catholic Church or Catholic religious sisters?
SISTER PRUDENCE ALLEN, R.S.M.: This question should be more fully answered by a theologian whose area of specialization is ecclesiology. However, as a Christian philosopher, I see two obvious contradictions that could be initially noted.
The first contradiction relates to the meaning of “Catholic.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#830-831) states, “The Church is catholic in a double sense:” First, because the whole Christ, head and body, subsists in her, and second because Christ sends the Church out on a mission to the whole human race.
By comparing the statements of the Network religious sisters on health care with the statements of Cardinal George and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on health care, it is clear that there are fundamental contradictions between them. Thus, the Network religious sisters have separated themselves from the head, and therefore cannot be included in the meaning of “catholic.” Therefore, they are not representative of the Catholic Church."
LOPEZ: They were, by the way, referred to as “nuns.” That’s not technically correct, is it? You’re a Religious Sister of Mercy in full habit, but you are not a “nun,” are you?
SISTER PRUDENCE: You are right that it is wrong to refer to the Network religious sisters as “nuns.” The official meaning of “nun” is a religious woman who makes solemn vows and who lives in an enclosed convent, referred to as a papal cloister. None of the signers of the letter written by the Network religious sisters has made solemn vows or lives in an enclosed convent. Therefore, they are not properly called nuns.
Those of us who make simple vows, who live in a convent with an area that is established as an enclosure, and who engage in apostolic work outside of the convent are properly called “sisters.” As a Religious Sister of Mercy in full habit, I am a “sister,” since I was received into the religious institute, have made simple vows, and live in a convent with an enclosure within it.
LOPEZ: Why should that matter at all to the world?
SISTER PRUDENCE: To answer your question about “why it should matter,” we need to consider the deeper question of the relation of truth to language and the relation of reality to the human mind. According to a realistic philosophy, truth is the union of the mind with reality. There are two complementary pathways to the truth: reason and faith, which correspond to philosophy and theology.
For a Christian, language matters a lot."
Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney