Can You Be Liberal and Catholic?

Sarah Posner’s excellent piece on the paucity of coverage of liberal religious voices in the media raises questions that are particularly pertinent to coverage of the Catholic Church. Case in point, my recent post about the National Coalition of American Nuns. I found it interesting that an established group of progressive nuns, whose work has in the past received coverage by the New York Times and the National Catholic Reporter, announces their support for contraceptive access under the Affordable Care Act and receives virtually no media coverage. 

Yet when the Little Sisters of the Poor, an obscure order of nuns who run nursing homes, filed suit against the contraception mandate, it was front page news around the country.

Why? My theory is that to many who cover religion, the very idea of “feminist nuns” has become an oxymoron—and that’s by design. The Vatican has worked to suppress visible dissent against their teachings related to sexuality, especially by anyone who could be considered an “official” Catholic, like nuns.