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Radical Grace (2015)

Women Religious smBack in 2012, the Vatican censured American nuns for what it called their "radical feminism," placing them under the discipline of a conservative bishop.  They questioned whether their lives and work were "faithful."  Why didn't they wear the habit?!  Instead of silencing them, though, they became a sort of cause célèbre when they actively challenged the patriarchal hierarchy of Catholicism (including an appearance on the Colbert Show).  This film follows three nuns in particular who were named in the controversy.  Sister Simone Campbell, also an attorney, is a social justice lobbyist in Washington, DC, the director of the progressive lobby NETWORK, founded in 1971.  She created a “Nuns on the Bus Tour” to protest economic inequality and defend the Affordable Care Act.  Sister Chris Schenk worked on the inside, advocating for gender equality within the Catholic Church.  Sister Jean Hughes had a counseling ministry among former prisoners who are trying to reenter the community.  These brave women, part of the 59,000 American nuns in 140 orders, represent a threat to the traditional Catholic past, and a hope for a better future.  This film originally debuted in 2015, then got a new lease on life when it was aired by PBS in March of 2017 as part of its series called America ReFramed.  I watched the film from the PBS website.

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