Holy Mother of God, what's this world coming to?
Time reports that six American Catholic nuns in Arkansas were excommunicated for following a Canadian sister, who claims to be possessed by the Virgin Mary. Their most excellent name is the Army of Mary. Though the great Mother has been speaking through the 86-year-old Quebecois since 1971, it's taken the Vatican some time to get around to ejecting her followers. One might have thought the inspiration of a charismatic nun who actually believes she's been touched by holy entities (unlike, say, the officially sanctified phony Mother Theresa) would have compelled the pointy-headed pontiffs to pay some serious homage, but it seems all this talk of Mothers rather than Fathers is unacceptable.
The nuns, who own the convent property and will continue to live together, don't seem particularly flustered by the excommunication. "We are at peace and we know that for us we are doing the right thing," one of the nuns told Time. "We pray that the church will open their eyes before it is too late. This is God's work through Mary, the blessed mother, and we're doing what we're asked to do."
Well good for them. Thankfully, protected by good self-esteem and real estate, they can make their own theological decisions. The Catholic Church, that most patriarchal of institutions, has often spawned its opposite from deep within the fold. From medieval cults that worshipped the Virgin Mary to Mary Daly -- the Catholic nun who turned into one of the most radical feminists of the '70s -- to the growing women-priests movement, the church has often harbored its heretical, estrogen-powered strains. That it should still have sisters doin' it for themselves shouldn't surprise us. Still, I can't help but be a little perplexed that the all-powerful Vatican would see fit to crush such a mild-mannered heresy: Are these guys really so threatened by a few old ladies with a Mama fixation?