Maureen Dowd, herself a Catholic, goes after the church hierarchy today for its effort to silence nuns. The nuns’ advocacy for the poor and a willingness to accept President Obama’s compromise on birth control pills has enraged the leadership far more than the priest sex scandals ever did.

ARCHBISHOP PETER SARTAIN: Former Arkansas bishop rapped by columnist.

  • ARCHBISHOP PETER SARTAIN: Former Arkansas bishop rapped by columnist.

Former Arkansas Catholic Bishop Peter Sartain, now an archbishop in Seattle, earns a condemnatory mention from Dowd:

Pope Benedict, who became known as “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the cardinal conducting the office’s loyalty tests, assigned Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to crack down on the climate of “corporate dissent” among the poor nuns.

When the nuns push for social justice, they’re put into stocks. Yet Archbishop Sartain has led a campaign in Washington to reverse the state’s newly enacted law allowing same-sex marriage, and he’s a church hero.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic lobbying group slapped in the Vatican report, said it scares the church hierarchy to have “educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.”

She told NPR that it was ironic that church leaders were mad at sisters over contraception when the nuns had committed to a celibate life with no families or babies. Given the damage done by the pedophilia scandals, she said, “the church’s obsession, at times, with the sexual relationships is a serious problem.”

Nick Kristof also had a fine column on the same topic