The sudden ending of the investigation of the Leadership of the American Nuns by the Vatican is, in my view, a really significant event. I suspect that when we look back, it will stand out as one of the seminal moments in the papacy of Francis.
Despite some of the content of the final document, this is clearly a major climb-down by the CDF. Some things had to be put in, some signs of the ‘apparent’ success of the CDF’s crackdown, in order that their credibility would not be totally destroyed. That is understandable. But to me this development constitutes ‘game, set and match’ to the nuns. And if any group of people ever deserved it, they do. They have shown extraordinary courage, and also astute political skill, during the three years. They were much smarter than the CDF, who showed far too much arrogance and a hubris that is the result of people whose power has gone to their heads. Whatever they said in the final document about continued supervision, there is no possible was that they can take any further action against the nuns. All they can do now is go back in to their corner, and sulk!
The hand of Francis is very obvious in all this. There was no possibility that the CDF would so abruptly end the investigation, unless they were ordered by Francis to do so. After all, it is not long since Meuller publicly berated the nuns in a very petulant fashion. And Francis clearly put his stamp to the whole thing by receiving the nuns leadership in a fifty minute audience, in which he was very welcoming. I was happy that we heard the news of this development as we were holding our press conference at the end of the four day reform meeting. Things are certainly changing, there is new light and hope in the Church. And I do believe that the work of reform movements, so many of whom were represented in Limerick, has had some impact on these changes.
The struggle continues!