Thursday, April 19, 2012

Liberal Nuns: a reminder to be Catholic first

As everybody in the Catholic blogosphere has already said, the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious did not receive a glowing report from the Vatican. Quite the contrary. Of course, the nuns blame health care:

Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise, Sister Sanders said. She said that the group’s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine annual visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation, which began in 2008.

“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”

Bloggers tempted to cheer at this outcome might consider Omar F. A. Gutierrez's sober analysis:

Second, we shouldn’t be cheering because the year is 2012. We’ve known about this goofiness among the women religious for how long? Where I grew up, I remember the weird, quasi-pagan rituals the local sisters would do in the mid 80’s. My Mom would come home and report these things to my young ears and I just wondered where in God’s name the bishops were… and were these the same splendid sisters who taught me in grade school?

Sure, we should be glad that the Holy Father and the USCCB is taking hold of this situation now. God bless Archbishop Sartain who will be taking on this Herculean task, but honestly, why did it take so very, very long to address something so obviously corrupt. Since this all seems to be a matter of enforcing canon laws, again why did it take so long?

In one convent I entered some years ago – not in Omaha – I read the newly drafted mission statement of the women religious community that was so proudly displayed in the lobby. Nowhere in this mission statement did the name of Jesus or Christ appear. NOWHERE. The word “Eucharist” didn’t even appear in the mission statement even though the particular order was dedicated to adoration. Instead, it was a bunch of drivel about being modern St. Francises as they strove to bring reconciliation between Mother Earth and humanity. It was about being a prophetic voice of change to the rest of the Church. Blah blah blah. This should not have taken as long as it did.

Amen to that!

In fact, back in 2008 when the visitation of the LCWR was first underway, I wrote a post about it here. The whole post follows, for those newer readers who may not have seen it then:


Many people have already posted excerpts from this, reported by the Catholic Key, which helps explain why some women religious are being investigated:

When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s, they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed. The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.

As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it.
I couldn't help but be reminded of a story:

On Beyond Jesus (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Said Sister Androgina Guevara Mao,
(An old friend of mine who worships the Tao):
You start out by studying Adam and Eve
(Though I find that story too hard to believe)
Then you go through the prophets; you study the kings
Who all hated women (misogynist things!)
Some poems called psalms, and some proverbs, and then--
You get to the Gospels; and that's where it ends.
You read about Jesus, you learn His whole story,
With good bits with women, and other parts gory,
And then you should know, from the very Creation,
The whole of the story of humans' salvation.

I was nodding--because that is how it should go--
When she frowned and said sternly: No. Oh, dear, no!
That's what they tell you, that's what they try
To make you believe while you live till you die.
But some of us know this is no place to stop!
I could keep finding prophets and myths till I drop!
You can stop, if you want, with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But not me!
I won't stop here, not at any price!

If you stop here with Jesus, you'll never explore
The non-androcentric religions galore:
The ones that have goddesses, holy and wise
With perhaps a bit more than their fair share of eyes,
The one around Buddha--you really should try it!
If nothing else Buddhism's good for your diet.
And then there are legends of spirits that come
When you carve a big totem or beat a big drum.

So, on beyond Jesus! To Zeus and to Hera!
Don't let a word like "heretic" scare ya.
There's so much empowerment you'll never know
If you stop at Jesus. So go, go, go, go!
Go on to the Norse Gods, to Freya or Thor
You'll learn so much more than you could have before.
Cosmology, circles, spell-casting and chant--
But not the old sort. No, that kind we can't.
We've forgotten the words, if we ever did know them,
Besides, we worked hard so we could overthrow them.

On beyond Jesus! There's so much beside Him!
The gods of the Romans, (though they crucified Him)
Are interesting sorts, like the two-headed Janus.
We'd put up an altar to him, but they'd ban us,
Those narrow suspicious ones coming to check--
They've seen our free writings, but called them all dreck.
They stopped at Jesus, and now you can see,
Just what would happen to you--and to me!
If we stopped at Jesus, and never went past Him.
We'd be just like them--but we will outlast them!

Oh, maybe some orders are doing quite well,
Who stopped at Jesus. It's hard to tell.
They have new members, and growth, and much joy.
But what we have is better. Oh boy, yes, oh boy,
We went beyond Jesus! Our convents are empty,
Young Catholics avoid us, or say things contempt-y.
We have no future, we turned from our past,
We built nothing permanent, nothing that lasts.
But we did explore all the gods ever prayed to!
Except the real God, unless we were paid to.

So what if our convents are left now in tatters?
We went beyond Jesus. And that's all that matters.

I shook my head sadly as she finished talking,
Said my goodbyes, and quickly left, walking
Straight through the big labyrinth inside her foyer,
She shouted at me, but I just ignored her.

In other words, as Gutierrez's post points out, the tendency of American nuns to combine sincere and much-appreciated works of charity with goofy leftist political activism and even goofier paganism and a wholesale rejection of many of the Church's teachings in various moral areas is not a new problem, and this first attempt to address it is long overdue. If the sisters quoted in the NYT piece are truly surprised, shocked, and appalled that it has come to this, then a small reminder is in order: Catholic nuns, like Catholic priests, Catholic brothers, Catholic deacons, and all other Catholics, are supposed to be--you know--Catholic first. If you really think that the Church is a misogynistic and patriarchal society which oppresses women, and that abortion or birth control are liberating, that sex outside marriage, divorce, and other forms of immorality are good ideas, that gay "marriage" is just trendy enough to be worth supporting, and that Jesus Himself a) would have no problem with any of these things and b) isn't really any more important than Gaia or Isis or various unnamed spirit-gods and demigods of other traditions, then the question isn't "Why, then, are you a religious sister?" but "Why the heck are you even Catholic?"


L. said...

Sure, there are some feminist nuns out there (and more power to them! you GO, girls!!!!), but I find it hard to believe that this label applies to 80% of U.S. nuns.

I truly doubt that any man at the Vatican would know what a "feminist" is, let alone a "radical" one, even if one of them bit him on the hindquarters.

Patrick said...

"...that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed."

Uh - that's true. The God of Jesus *is* the Father - the difference obviously being that Jesus is also God (which Jews and Muslims don't recognize) and that we're reconciled to the Father *through* Christ (which the Jews and Muslims don't recognize). But to say that Jesus was giving thanks to and worshipping the same God as Moses and Mohammed is perfectly true.

I'm not sure what to make of this:

"If you really think that the Church is a misogynistic and patriarchal society which oppresses women..."Why the heck are you even Catholic?"

(I've cut the quote for brevity)

That's like saying, "if you really think the Church is full of happy-clappy garbage, leftism, poor music, poor art, heretical clergy, people who aren't Catholic enough, etc., why are you a Catholic?"

Because Christ founded the Catholic Church, that's why. No matter *how* corrupt or ludicrous the Church is in the world, it is the Church Christ established. That's why the nuns are Catholics, and that's why you're a Catholic too, despite the fact that other Catholics aren't nearly pure enough to remain in communion with you.

(My word verification was "mentici scusin" - sounds like a Latin Mass!)

Tony said...

I remember I drove my wife and her childhood friend to visit a beloved nun who had taught them in elementary school who had recently celebrated her jubilee (50 years of "sisterhood").

We walked into the mother house, and the average age of the sisters there was 70. I'd imagine the youngest was 55 or so.

I saw this beautiful large carving on the wall of this abstract thing with three heads and I thought to myself "what an interesting concept of the Trinity". When I got close enough to read the plaque, it explained that the "heads" represented Air, Fire and Water.

I then understood why there were no new novices in evidence. The biological solution will take care of these feminist "sisters", and they will be replaced by younger, more fervent and faithful nuns, Deo Gratias! :)

Anonymous said...

As a pro-life mother, educated by sisters, I totally agree with you. They never mention abortion or euthanasia and social justice for them is basically communism. Thank you Papa Ben for doing this for all the young pro-life Catholics.

Elizabeth said...

A point was made on another blog that it used to be that "silence" implied consent.

Has the Church complained about womens' silence before?

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 1 of 3
Patrick, it's simple: Those who believe the Scriptures, traditions, and all other tenets that comprise the Faith founded by Christ, as well as the Magisterium whose duty is to uphold the same, as misogynistic, backwards, etc., clearly dissent in or do not understand (or do not care to understand) the Faith. For the record, that included me to some degree until recently until I finally woke up.

Confused as to what these tenets are? Look in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are plenty of other official Church sources that spell everything out. If the Catechism says ABC about a subject and you say that it should be XYZ and worse, you publicly endorse/promote XYZ, you are dissenting. This is not rocket science.

If you are dissenting, you are denying what the Church of which you claim to be a part holds to be true. If you are a baptized Catholic, yes, you are still a Catholic, but you are not a faithful Catholic, as in not adhering to the Faith as it has been passed down to the ages. But worse are those such as the nuns in question who work against the Church.

In fairness, I think all priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals etc., who publicly dissent need to be taken to task as well, including removal as necessary. I hope the Pope and his successor clean house. It might take a while, but it has to be done. Once the clergy are cleaned out, the laity will clean itself out. One follows the other. That's how the Church got into the mess She's in today.

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 2 of 3

So the question, "So why stay?" is appropriately asked of the clap-happy, womyn-priest-loving lefty/liberal/"progressive"/"enlightened" folks who scream "HATE!" anytime anyone disagrees with them, most of all the Church whose tenets they mock and actively try to suppress. (Although though these same folks are generally mighty proud of being "tolerant" and "diverse." Yeah.)

I guess some folks stay because it's the thing to do, meaning their family has traditionally been Catholic, so they might as well go through the motions, even if the motions don't mean much, if anything. Maybe some like the older beautiful churches and stay Catholic to have their Perfect Wedding in one of them some day.

However, I think some do it out of a latent hatred of authority; these folks are narcissistic and arrogant to their marrow to the extent that no one, nothing is above them and their feelings. If it feels right to them, then it is right. And it becomes A RIGHT. They hate the Church because it doesn't run on feelings, and, as an entity with foundations that conflict with these narcissists' worldviews as seen from the mirror in front of their faces, She endures their attempts to destroy Her from within.

These folks, whether private citizens or public personalities, will stick around the Church and call themselves Catholic to give themselves implied authority to weaken the Church. Many times I have read very similar to the following as responses to news articles attacking the Church's stance on hot issues: "I'm Catholic and I feel we should pay for birth control and abortions for all. We should continue to fund Planned Parenthood (one of the largest abortion providers in the US)! It's perfectly okay and my (read: MY! MY! MY!) RIGHT to support birth control, and abortion and be a good Catholic. It's all good!" (There will usually also be a gratuitous remark about how all priest rape kids.) So comes the notion that promoted by the mainstream media (and Obama) that, yeah, the Church should follow these folks and dump her foundations.

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 3 of 3

No. There plenty of other faith options for them to join and to satisfy their dissent.

I guess I agree with L. and would say to the feminist nuns, "Yeah, you GO, GIRLS!" to which I would add, "Go and find a Church of Anything Goes to join. And give my regards to [insert name of female goddess of your choice]!"

Thank God my family was blessed a religious sister of 70+ years of service to God and his Church and her Faith as it has been passed down from the start. This wonderful woman has always said she's had a wonderful life, a wonderful vocation, and she wouldn't change a thing, and she truly means it. She also still proudly wears her habit. I think if I asked her how she could feel this way under the Church's misogynistic leadership, she'd fall over laughing. At her age, that might kill her, so I won't risk that. Tony, I hope you are right. We need many more sisters like my dear family member.

L. said...

Sicilian Woman, I believe you would likely consider me one of those people in the Church who are out "to destroy Her from within. " I reject some of the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality outright and I'm teaching my kids to reject them, too.

But you're wrong about us hating the Church, which some of us believe is about more than a handful of controversial social issues.

Why ever would anyone stay in a church they hated, unless they were a masochist? "Narcissists" usually aren't masochists -- most are quite the opposite.

"Go and find a Church of Anything Goes to join?" Thanks a lot, but I've found my home, and it's the same one as yours, for better or for worse.

L. said...

Question for Sicilian Woman and any other devout Catholics who care to respond -- cracking downs on dissenting nuns/clergy is one matter, but how would you deal with dissenting Catholic laity?

You say, "Once the clergy are cleaned out, the laity will clean itself out. One follows the other." That does not appear to be true, though. Most of my life (in fact, until I lived in SF), I've encountered only highly conservative clergy, and yet I still formed the opinions I hold. There would appear to be many dissenters in the fold who were properly catechized, even after Vatican II.

Short of withholding communion (which I think is reasonable), what else can be done?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Speaking as a non-Catholic, it seems to me that if what the sisters DID say was consistent with, or not in violation of, church teachings, the fact that they decided not to focus on certain other church teachings is not a problem.

If they had ADVOCATED abortion, or same sex marriage, then I would understand the concern. I am a firm adherent of the right to freedom of association, and that includes the right to exclude those who are adulterating the expressive message the group has built itself upon.

I can hear Erin and others exclaiming that opposing abortion is SO fundamental that no Catholic organization can remain silent about it. But, perhaps there was a sector of the population this group of sisters could reach, with the message they did emphasize, which they could not reach if they emphasized abortion. They were no doubt aware that OTHER organizations in which Catholics played a significant role WERE working on abortion.

If you are IN the world, and want to reach out TO the world, you have to make such calculations.

Patrick... nicely put, even the parts I cannot adhere to. (Siclian woman has a logical counter-point, but ignores that there are a VARIETY of voices in the church each pronouncing anathema on the other. Patrick offers that there is a fundamental reason transcending all these petty squabbles why someone of this or that viewpoint would, above all else, remain Catholic.

(I of course don't accept the fundamental premise, or I would also be Catholic, with all my opinions, whether I disagree or not on any given tenet with each or all of you.) Yes, I have other faith options, but the fundamental reason I adhere to another option is that I do not believe the RC church is THE church founded by Christ and his Apostles. If I did believe this, I would have to be Catholic, obedient or not.

Patrick said...

@ The Sicilian Woman:

We're in happy agreement on whether the nuns are in error here, though I'll leave to you to judge what's inside other people's hearts.

Nevertheless: you (and Mrs. Manning) *encouraging schism* is much, much worse, morally speaking. Actively encouraging someone to separate from the Body of Christ - no matter how ludicrous the nuns are acting here - is literally the work of the devil.

c matt said...

Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise,

I genuinely believe they were surprised - that the Vatican would actually take action. I was too.

What can be done about dissenters (actually, heretics is probably the correct term - one who is within the Church but denies one of her teachings to which adherence is required)? I don't know - as far as laity, probably not much. But the first thing is to remove those in positions of authority who espouse heresy (be they bishop, theologians, university presidents/professors, RC high school teachers, etc.). After that, I suppose "heretics you will always have with you." Human nature being what it is, there will always be some who disagree with this or that teaching (be it abortion, homosexuality, torture, just war...). Let them stay in and let God sort it out - just don't let them undermine efforts to evangelize and educate, and, most important, don't compromise to accomodate their errors.

c matt said...

Well, Patrick, part of the problem is that some of them, by their own actions, may have already so separated themselves. Sometimes, you have to leave to come home again. Schism,iirc is denying the authority of the Pope (one could be completely orthodox on all other points). I think you are referring more to apostasy (which would be abandoning of the faith). Perhaps a clear examination of conscience through a trip in the wilderness, so to speak, may actually be beneficial. Part of the problem that has resulted in such widespread acceptance of heresy has been the apparent lack of seriousness on the Church's part in dealing with it. It is simple human nature to think that if no grave consequences are visited upon you, it can't be that important.

Patrick said...

@ c matt:

Urging someone to commit a sin is evil. Formal apostasy (I stand corrected on the term) is a sin and a grave one at that, as the Catholic Church is the normal means for salvation. Therefore urging someone to commit formal apostasy is grave evil.

We agree on *that*, don't we?

Red Cardigan said...

Patrick, there are other grave sins--calumny can be one. Show me where I've actually advocated that people who disagree with the Church or who (as some of these liberal nuns do) actively worship pagan gods must leave the Church. Whether they have already internally left to practice apostasy while still creating the falsehood that they are fully united to the Church is a matter for their own consciences. My question--if you're worshiping pagan gods why are you Catholic?--is meant as a reflection point.

Patrick said...

It looked like you were more concerned about kicking out apostates because your grip on theology is so poor that it appears you were eager to skip over it in order to get to the mocking poetry and question begging.

By poor grip on theology, I mean your false assertion that "the world" was "the enemy" and your even more false assertion that the God of Abrahmic religions somehow *isn't* the same God or your false assertion that salvation is limited to Christians (the orthodox belief being that man is limited by God, and God is *not* limited by man: we must be Christians, but we can't prove God saves only Christians) *OR* your false assumption that Gospel values are unique to Christianity (whereas orthodoxy freely admits all sorts of overlaps).

Given that you were making up new apostasies-that-aren't-even-apostasies (and that doesn't even take a guess at whether you think Thomas Merton was ok or not), and given the petulant whining of the Gutierrez bit above it, I began to conclude that, rather than a reflection point, you were looking for anything you could grab - no matter how erroneous - to get at those demonic Leftist Nuns.

Next, of course, was the mocking poetry which no doubt is a manifestation of truly willing these nuns' good. Rather, its petty little vindictiveness made all the more eye-rolling not because it's abusing God's gifts, but because it's piled on top of false theology. If you're going to mock someone (which is dubious), it would help if you grasped the very thing your attempting to mock someone for *not* grasping (in this case, orthodox belief.)

So finally, I get to the conclusion of the post with a sense that, rather than a reflection point, you're actively urging these people leave, and then I read the concluding part. I guess I'll pick this nit, seeing as you edited "why the heck" out of your original quote and replaced it with "why" (above). "Why the heck", surely, is more like an urge to leave the Church rather than a reflection point. Were I to say, "why the heck don't you drink a bottle of beer?" And then say: oh no, that wasn't urging you to drink a bottle of beer, it was just a "reflection point", you'd rightfully roll your eyes, especially if it was proceeded by the above.

And that's why I thought this was urging people to leave, which is evil and, I'll add *way* more evil than homosexual behavior or contraception (not of course, that people should do those things).

Patrick said...

By the way: congratulations on having an award named after you. I actually started reading your site because I remembered your comments from the Beliefnet days.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Patrick, thanks for the congratulations and all--I mean that--but you do realize that the stuff you object to about the world being the enemy etc. is from a quote from the Catholic Key blog, and not something I actually wrote myself?

I mean, you're telling me I have a poor grasp of theology based on a quote on another blog which itself is a quote which comes from a women's religious group's writings. I may indeed have a poor grasp of theology, but I don't think you've demonstrated that by objecting to a quote from a quote which I merely happened to post!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

What fools these mortals be... where did we pick up the notion that any one of us knows the mind of God so well that we can speak authoritatively to each other about us. Humble reflection, sincere discussion of the meaning of Holy Scripture, and corporate worship, are all to the good, but the reverence of human Authority is abomination.

A Jewish rabbi whom I have often asked about the meaning of Old Testament references told me that obscure references in Genesis to "the sons of God" concerned certain humans who proclaimed themselves peculiarly knowledgeable about what The Lord required of men... and, as the passages show, always MISled humanity into grave evil.

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 1 of 4

I’ve been too busy and sick offline to respond till now.


>>Sicilian Woman, I believe you would likely consider me one of those people in the Church who are out "to destroy Her from within. " I reject some of the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality outright and I'm teaching my kids to reject them, too.

But you're wrong about us hating the Church, which some of us believe is about more than a handful of controversial social issues.<<

They are not simply “controversial social issues,” L.

We are talking about doctrine that was written and detailed by Church authority, i.e., not you. Again, a great guide to this doctrine is easily found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When you clearly speak out against the Church, especially while calling yourself a Catholic, and worse, warp your children’s knowledge and understanding of the Faith as it is officially (i.e., “teaching them to reject them, too”), you are hurting the Church and its future in your children, exactly in the same manner that the Church is suffering from the watered-down junk that baptized Catholics were taught since the 70s. You are contributing to schism.

>>Why ever would anyone stay in a church they hated, unless they were a masochist? <<

Being a masochist requires making yourself suffer. How are you suffering? You stay in a church that you hate (let’s face it, L., to the left/libs/”progressives”, any disagreement is branded as “hate,” so I shall use term here accordingly), because there are no repercussions for your speaking out against its foundation. At worst, you can be denied the Eucharist, but recent events have shown that you can get away with that, too.

Should you view my comments as suffering, you come here voluntarily, as you have at least one other devout Catholic blog, with your beliefs that go directly against the Church and your in-your-face attitude, so you should expect to be called upon it. Other than that, really, how have you suffered for speaking and acting against the Church? Loss of home? Loss of job? Fines? Protesters picketing your home?

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 2 of 4

>>Question for Sicilian Woman and any other devout Catholics who care to respond -- cracking downs on dissenting nuns/clergy is one matter, but how would you deal with dissenting Catholic laity? <<

Short of denying the Eucharist, which would be entail some very serious considerations, all that I can foresee doing with regards to dissenters is to call them out, when appropriate, as not representing official Church doctrine, and asking them to have the integrity to be clear about their beliefs in error against Church teaching. Yeah, I’m an optimist. Beyond that, I’d pray for the dissenting laity to come into full communion with the Church.

>>You say, "Once the clergy are cleaned out, the laity will clean itself out. One follows the other." That does not appear to be true, though. Most of my life (in fact, until I lived in SF), I've encountered only highly conservative clergy, and yet I still formed the opinions I hold. There would appear to be many dissenters in the fold who were properly catechized, even after Vatican II.<<

Church-shopping happens. I’ve seen it based on liberal vs. conservative, so I’d love to see what would happen if the dissenting laity had many fewer choices of parishes where their view of doctrine was promoted.

The Sicilian Woman said...

Part 3 of 4


>>(Sicilian woman has a logical counter-point, but ignores that there are a VARIETY of voices in the church each pronouncing anathema on the other. Patrick offers that there is a fundamental reason transcending all these petty squabbles why someone of this or that viewpoint would, above all else, remain Catholic.<<

In rediscovering my faith, I’ve been amazed and saddened to see the factions that I hadn’t know existed. (I didn’t even know what the Traditional Latin Mass was until less than a couple years ago!) It seems to me that the factions are a combination of disagreements in doctrine and in practice, largely one of practice between the Rad Trads against the Novus Ordo folks. Speaking for myself, I don’t see a difference between a trad or an NO Catholic as long as they both believe in all the doctrine.

The Sicilian Woman said...


Erin and I are encouraging schism? Are you kidding? Speaking for myself, I am asking the dissenters – the folks who willfully dissent from Church teaching and disregard Her authority – to be honest and call themselves what they are, and that’s Protestant: They are protesting church doctrine. They are creating their own schism. They are Catholic by baptism and other sacraments, but Protestant (or sometimes pagan, agnostic or atheistic) in belief and action, and they are encouraging others to act accordingly.

Note L.’s bold encouraging of nuns to dissent. L.’s shtick is always the same regarding her avid encouragement, here and offline, for beliefs and/or organizations whose activities conflict directly with the Church. Calling oneself “Catholic” while encouraging others to go against the Faith misrepresents and hurts the Church. Take a look at any of the news articles posted about the HHS mandate and how many people who commented on those articles use the fact that self-identifying Catholics use birth control, etc., so the Church should just get over itself and approve artificial contraception. If I’m at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser and I mention that I’m Catholic, what sort of message does that send to the people around me? That it’s okay to be Catholic and support the largest abortion provider out there? An organization that will give birth control to children without their parents’ consent? You know it does. The work of the devil, indeed.

The Church has clear doctrine and authority in place. It does not matter whether 99% of the world’s population disagrees with it. It is what it is. You and I do not have the right to change it. If we disagree or struggle with something, that is OUR problem, not the Church’s, and we should honest and clear about that as the opportunity arises. I was, during my struggles with the faith. How many times I heard, “You’re a good Catholic,” because I regularly attended Mass. Ha! Sad to think that Mass attendance is the sole litmus test for being a “good” Catholic. I always emphasized that I wasn’t because I disagreed certain issues. And, even though I am now in line with the Church, guess what? I am still not a “good” Catholic. I am a faithful Catholic who still sins (recognizing what the Church defines as sin) and who is in a constant challenge to overcome sin, as we all are.

Back to the original topic of the LCWR and those nuns under Church scrutiny, they all chose to enter a profession in an organization with a defined male hierarchy since its inception over 1900 years ago. If any of them thought they were going to change the hierarchy, they failed miserably and I feel no pity for them. That’s the same as marrying someone even though you are aware of his/her faults and thinking that you’re going to change your spouse after you’re married. It doesn’t work. (Please note that I do not excuse any clergy who truly have abused or otherwise taken advantage of religious sisters. I am talking about the sisters who became sisters with intent of shaking things up a bit.)

Catholic Mission said...

If the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 said that the baptism of desire was an exception to the dogma they made a mistake: So why cannot the Leadership Conference of Women Religious hold the literal interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus along with implicit baptism of desire ?

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus is at the centre of the LCWR problems e.g. in her LCWR keynote address in 1997 Sr. Sandra Schneider(1) said " It can no longer be taken for granted that the members [of a given congregation] share the same faith.” Why, because they don’t believe in the dogma?

In an LCWR keynote speech in 2007 Sr. Laurie Brink, O.P. spoke of “four different general ‘directions’ in which religious congregations seem to be moving.” She said that “not one of the four is better or worse than the others.” One of the directions described is “sojourning,” which she says “involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus. The Church is not necessary for salvation?

LCWR speakers also explore themes…that are frequently ambiguous, dubious or even erroneous with respect to Christian faith writes Bishop Leonard P. Blair.(2)The errors and ambiguity are there because they do not believe in the dogma on exclusive salvation being there in only the Catholic Church.

The speaker in August is Sr. Schneider since the LCWR do not believe in the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.They probably assume like so many Catholics, influenced by the secular media, that the Church no more teaches this dogma. They believ Cardinal Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani in the Letter of the Holy Office suggested that the baptism of desire is an exception to the literal interpretation of the dogma. So the sisters write off the dogma and Vatican Council II (AG 7).

In other words a cardinal can overrule an ex cathedra dogma (Cantate Domino, Council of Florence etc) and also Vatican Council II.

If Cardinal Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani assumed that Fr. Leoanrd Feeney was wrong because he denied the baptism of desire then the cardinal made a mistake. Since the baptism of desire is irrelevant to the dogmatic teaching. It is always implicit.

So there is nothing which prevents the LCWR affirming the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus along with implicit-to-us and explicit-to-God baptism of desire, invincible ignorance, a good conscience and being saved with the ‘seeds of the word’.

When the LCWR affirms the literal interpretation of the salvation dogma Sr. Schneider will appear heretical.The LCWR would be able to support their views with Vatican Council II (AG 7) while there is no text in Vatican Council II which Sr. Schneider could use, as a reference for her teachings.The LCWR would be faithful to the Magisterium of the centuries, to Vatican Council II and magisterial teachings like Dominus Iesus 20 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church 845,846.
-Lionel Andrades