Bear with me as I rant. . .there is a point in here, somewhere:
(CNN) -- The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this week that a group of nuns who broke ranks with the powerful conference on health care reform in March is responsible for the controversial legislation's passage.
"Sister Carol and her colleagues are to blame," Cardinal Francis George is quoted as saying in a Catholic News Agency report Wednesday.
[. . .]
Wow. This is not the usual sort of carefully crafted bureaucrat-speak we've come to expect from the USCCB. The Good Cardinal is speaking Truth to Power here.
Make no mistake: the sisters who supported B.O.Care are not the cheery, put-upon drudges that the MSM is making them out to be. Sr. Keehan rakes in about $900,000 a year as head of the Catholic Hospital Association. The women's congregations represented by the LCWR and its overtly political arm, NETWORK, certainly have sisters who fit the MSM description, but the problem with 90% of American women congregations is not the vast majority of sisters who make up the bulk of the workforce, but their leadership.
I've been told many times by many sisters that their congregational leaders do not represent the views of most sisters on hot button issues. Layers of congregational bureaucracy, multiple national and international associations, "consensus decision-making," ideological formation, and pressure to conform to the community's unitary voice have all made it difficult for any sort of internal opposition to organize. IOW, sisters who disagree with their leaders are effectively silenced.
I''m not suggesting here that congregational leaders are consciously suppressing internal dissent. I know of no program or scheme to ostracize sisters who oppose their elected leaders. There's no nefarious conspiracy here. What I am suggesting is that the culture of American women religious strongly discourages internal opposition through a variety of mechanisms designed to establish and present One View to the Church and the world. This shouldn't surprise us given that most groups do this sort thing, including men's religious congregations. The most effective mechanism in creating the illusion of seamless assent is the so-called "consensus decision-making" process that disallows rational discourse in favor of emotional expression, thus side-stepping potentially discomforting practices like debate and voting on issues. How one feels about an issue is deemed vastly more important than what one thinks about the issue. Voting might expose real divisions and hold up action.
So, what's my point? It's this: when the LCWR and similar groups express dissident opinions on issues that our bishops have pronounced on, do not assume that all or even a majority of the sisters the group claims to represent hold the dissident view. The best we can assume is that leadership "heard the sisters saying X" during discussions about the issue. I've been in many meetings of religious where complex responses to even more complex issues have been reduced to meaningless three or four word bullet points. The Robert's Rules approach to decision-making is cumbersome, often confusing, and time-consuming. But the alternative is equally frustrating. There's nothing more aggravating than to spend three hours discussing a complex problem only to see the wide variety of views congealed into a list of innocuous half-sentences that no reasonable person would dispute.
I just hate to see all our sisters blamed for the dissident opinions of their leaders.
Follow HancAquam ------------>