American nuns' abortion message to Pope Francis: 'You don't quite get it'

The National Coalition of American Nuns made its remarks in response to Pope Francis' comments on Tuesday

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 02 September 2015 19:00 BST
Donna Quinn
Donna Quinn

Their message to Pope Francis was quite simple: you don’t quite get it.

After the Pope announced proposals to permit priests to forgive women who have abortions if they admit having sinned, a group of American nuns hit the headlines with their own proposal – that he make women equal members of the Catholic church.

“He needs to sit down with us and other women and listen to what they are saying because he still doesn’t get it,” Sister Donna Quinn, a co-ordinator with the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) told The Independent.

“I think he gets it within the Vatican sense and about the hierarchy, but he still won’t let women have full membership with the Catholic tradition. Women still don’t have full membership.”

Ms Quinn, a member of a Dominican order, spoke out after the pope on Tuesday said he would grant all Catholic priests the power to forgive women who have had abortions.

In a significant softening of the Church’s stance on the issue, the pope wrote that he had “met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision”.

The NCAN said it appreciated the attempt by the pope to act in a pastoral manner. Yet it said many women did not find his comments affirming, as they failed to make them feel included and did not recognise their right to autonomy.

Pope Francis relaxed the church's position on abortion
Pope Francis relaxed the church's position on abortion (AFP)

The nuns added that the pope's comments did not recognise that "sperm from males was responsible for these unplanned pregnancies".

The NCAN is not the only group to have spoken out strongly in the aftermath of Pope Francis' comments.

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, a Washington DC-based group that advocates on sexual and reproductive rights, said it was clear the Vatican was trying to breach a gap.

"Despite what Pope Francis has said, I do not believe Catholic women will be queuing up to ask for forgiveness," he added.

"A long time ago, Catholic women around the world worked out that they can make moral and ethical decisions about sexual and reproductive issues. Catholic women know that they can in good conscience disagree with the hierarchy and still be Catholics in good faith."

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