For decades popular culture portrayed nuns as geriatric, ruler-rapping didacts whose sole mission in life is to put — quite literally — the fear of God in Catholic grade-schoolers. That changed this year when the Vatican accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — the organization that represents 83 percent of American nunnery — with practicing "radical feminism." The leadership of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary in north county have been following the conflict closely. The order, founded in 1872, sponsors SSM Health Care; Almost Home, a transitional housing program for homeless teen mothers and their children; and Woman's Place, a center for female victims of domestic violence. The historic order of the group, originally called the Sisters of St. Mary, counts among its ranks Mary Antona Ebo, the only African American nun to march in Selma in 1965 for civil rights, and Ramona Meurer, who has reported for duty at the sites of countless disasters and war zones over the last thirty years. Irrespective of how Rome may view these women, we know the fifty-odd members of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary make this region a better place in their pursuit of social justice, their quiet dignity, their fierce conviction and their incredible compassion. If these are the causes of the feminazi, we salute them.
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