The XX Factor

Nuns v. Goldman

The number of nuns in the United States has been on the decline for years now; the willingness of groups of nuns to make bold political statements seems to be on a reverse trajectory. They’ve lately spoken out in favor of health care reform , for instance, a move that grabbed headlines and reflected a break with U.S. bishops. The American nuns’ recent outspokenness and willingness to go against mainstream Church teaching has even prompted a Vatician investigation into their activities- against which they’ve spoken out, naturally .

The latest target of American nuns’ righteous rage is Goldman Sachs : Several orders-the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia and the Benedictine Sisters of Mt Angel-that have funds invested in the bank wrote an open letter demanding that Goldman address the massive imbalance of pay between its highest- and lowest-level workers in advance of the company’s annual meeting next month.

This isn’t the first time the nuns have dinged Goldman for the massive compensation packages they offer top execs, and Goldman has already issued a statement that boils down to uh, no . The nuns probably didn’t really expect anything different. This was more of a consciousness-raising exercise, I’d wager. They picked their target rather cannily, after all-it wasn’t the CEO of J.P Morgan who said he was doing “God’s work,” it was Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein.  Headlines involving nuns seem splashier these days precisely because they’re less a part of everyday life for most Americans. They’ve turned a liability into an asset, and are leveraging it to the hilt; that’s a neat trick even Goldman Sachs has to admire.