The Flying Nun and Post-Vatican II Catholicism

  • Author(s): Rick Wolff
  • When: 1991-06
  • Where: Journal of Popular Film and Television
  • What would happen if a young, liberal, aerodynamic nun entered a convent headed by an old. conservative, stem Mother Superior? And what if this nun proceeded to disrupt the peaceful tic of the consent with her well-intentioned yet unconventional antics? What would result was explored weekly for three years on the ABC television situation comedy The Flying Nun. The half-hour program ran from September 1967 through September 1970 and featured Sally Field as the young, liberal Sister Benrilie and Madeleine Sherwood as the old, conservative Reverand Mother Plascato. Interestingly, the program highlighted the tensions between nuns given to traditionalist and modernist affinities at a time when such tensions were besetting all aspects of American Catholicism, including the sisterhood. Agitations that arose in the secular world during the 1960s net head on with changes sanctioned from within the Catholic Church during the same period and resulted in a struggle in American Catholicism for what would be the Church's role in the modem world.

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