Both are superb, and both represent, from differing viewpoints—following tradition or following conscience—how vibrant and strong are women religious in the Church today.

The first, from the New York Times.

An excerpt.

IN an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.

“I may not believe in God, but I do believe in nuns,” writes Jo Piazza, in her forthcoming book, “If Nuns Ruled the World.” Piazza is an agnostic living in New York City who began interviewing nuns and found herself utterly charmed and inspired.

“They eschew the spotlight by their very nature, and yet they’re out there in the world every day, living the Gospel and caring for the poor,” Piazza writes. “They don’t hide behind fancy and expensive vestments, a pulpit, or a sermon. I have never met a nun who rides a Mercedes-Benz or a Cadillac. They walk a lot; they ride bikes.”

One of the most erroneous caricatures of nuns is that they are prim, Victorian figures cloistered in convents. On the contrary, I’ve become a huge fan of nuns because I see them so often risking their lives around the world, confronting warlords, pimps and thugs, while speaking the local languages fluently. In a selfish world, they epitomize selflessness and compassion.

There are also plenty of formidable nuns whom even warlords don’t want to mess with, who combine reverence with ferocity, who defy the Roman Catholic Church by handing out condoms to prostitutes to protect them from H.I.V. (They surely don’t mention that to the bishops.)

One of the nuns whom Piazza profiles is Sister Megan Rice. She earned a graduate degree at Boston College and then moved to Nigeria in 1962 to run a school for girls she had helped establish in a remote area with no electricity or running water. After eventually returning to the United States, she began campaigning against nuclear weapons.

In 2012, at the age of 82, she masterminded a break-in of a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to call attention to the nuclear threat. As she was handcuffed by armed security guards, she sang “This Little Light of Mine.” She is now serving a prison sentence of almost three years.

I don’t approve of breaking into national security compounds, and I think nuclear doctrine is more complex than Sister Megan probably does. Nonetheless, I admire someone with such guts and commitment to principles.

Retrieved August 24, 2014 from

And the second is from Aleteia.

An excerpt.

When Nicholas Kristof praised religious sisters recently, he missed a whole category of great nuns – those whose fidelity to the Church is a part of their witness of strength to the world.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a good thing when a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist praises nuns. Kristof has done that good thing several times now, this time in a column called “Sister Acts,” about author Jo Piazza’s new book If Nuns Ruled the World.

Piazza is a perfect fit for Kristof. “I may not believe in God,” the author says, “but I do believe in nuns.” She loves women of God but not God; Kristof loves servants of the Church but not the Church.

When Kristof writes on Catholic matters, he does so to build his thesis that there are two Catholic churches. One is the “rigid all-male Vatican hierarchy” that (in “A Church Mary Can Love”) he calls “obsessed with dogma and rules and distracted from social justice.”…

I thought it would be instructive to answer his “two churches” stories with counter-examples from the one Church –strong women who accept all of Jesus’ teachings, including his counsel to “listen to the Church” (Matthew 18:17).

Sister Roseann Reddy, for example. She founded the first new order in Scotland in 150 years to help make good the promise of the late Cardinal Thomas Winning that any woman facing a crisis pregnancy, or suffering after abortion, could come to the Catholic Church for help.

Founding such an order takes uncommon strength. It also takes uncommon strength to buck popular opinion.

“If you are a member of the Catholic Church we are not a democracy and we have never claimed to be a democracy,” she is reported saying. “Something like women priests will never change because of the nature of the Catholic priesthood, which is that Christ was a man. We believe that when the priest is officiating at the sacraments he becomes in the person of Christ.”

Retrieved August 24, 2014 from