11 October 2009

Willful Ignorance? Can the LCWR listen to its critics?

Take some time today and give this article a careful read:  "Cross Examination:  Why is Rome Investigating U.S. Nuns?"   The author, Sister X, purports to be an ordinary religious sister who is genuinely confused about the reasons behind the Vatican's two on-going investigations: the quality of life for sisters and a theological assessment.

This article has two features that regularly show up in these sorts "we're so confused about these investigations" pieces:  1).  a failure to acknowledge the public and pervasive fall into radical feminist eco-paganism among some sisters and congregation; and 2).  a recitation of the tired feminist meme that these investigations are all about power-hungry men in Rome wanting to rein in unruly women religious. 

Right smack in the center of Sister X's piece is the absence of any sense at all that the theological assessment is a response to the LCWR's nearly 40 year history of public dissent not only from the Catholic magisterium but from just plain old Christianity itself!  Sister X minimizes the Vatican's concern: "Certain problems, Levada explained, needed to be addressed. As it turns out, these have to do with the LCWR’s alleged failure to express sufficiently rigorous doctrinal compliance with several recent church documents."  Yes, exactly, Sister. . .the Vatican is worried that when a sister is invited to the LCWR to give an address and in that address calls on your membership to "go beyond the Church. . .even beyond Christ himself" in their religious lives, the Vatican is worried that the LCWR is failing to express sufficiently rigorous doctrinal compliance.  Only in the insular world of eco-feminist religious women can the denial of Christ and his Church be construed as being insufficiently theologically rigorous. 

Another rhetorical move in these articles is to present the investigations as attempts by the Vatican to rein in unruly religious women.   Apparently, the Evil Old Power Hungry Testosterone Poisoned Prelates in the Vatican have been so juiced about oppressing nuns and sisters in the U.S. that it's taken them nearly 40 years to get around to asking a few questions about what these women really believe as self-professed Catholics.  Sarcasm aside, my point is simple:  if reining in unruly women is the objective of these investigations, why has it taken 40 years to start? 

What's most astonishing to me about this piece is the complete absence of any sense of responsibility on the part of these women for the decline and fall of women's religious life in the US.  Sister X blames just about everyone in sight but will not look in the mirror and point.  Religious women spend a great deal of time at their conferences and retreats patting themselves on the back for their courage, for telling the truth to power, for being open to difference, etc.  Good!  Are they courageous enough to devote their next LCWR meeting to speakers who will offer then substantial critiques of what they have done to religious life in the last 40 years?  LCWR constantly harps on the meme that the Vatican doesn't listen to them.  Do they listen to their critics?  Do they embody what they want from the Church? 

I think 99% of religious women could do just that.  But I doubt the institutional pros who haunt the inner-workings of the LWCR could.  


  1. Marion (Mael Muire)4:46 AM

    Don't staffers from Home Depot corporate headquarters visit the various store branches partly to ensure that things are being done the "Home Depot way" out in the field?

    And if a particular Home Depot branch doesn't like that, and doesn't want Corporate higher-ups to enforce Home Depot procedures and policies on them, do they think they can just continue on with business as usual with Home Depot Corporation's equipment and property and brand name and good will, and "go beyond Home Depot?" Hah! Even if only all men were involved . . . or all women, Home Deport HQ would eventually file a court complaint, and the court would send sherrif's deputies to come and close down that store, turn out the recalicitrant staffers, and bring in new hires to run the place the Home Depot way.

    All this drama about "male dominance" is such a smokescreen and such a red herring for "No Serviam." And, yes, I am a female.

    No male dominator I've ever encountered can hold a candle to some of the female steamrollers I've come across. One nun slapped a good and holy priest I know - a true gentleman - in his face for insisting on the Church's Orthodox position. "Intimidate," my foot. Hell itself wouldn't intimidate some of these females.

  2. "Why is Rome demanding submission from women religious to church teachings that honestly perplex most Catholics?"

    That's my favorite quote. We are *all* to submit, even while perplexed. Religious don't get a free pass to dissent.

  3. Anonymous8:35 AM

    Submission to legitimate authority is a humbling act and I pray these sisters are able to do this.
    If they keep complaining in writing to the general audience, they stand pushing even more potential women away.

    I am not going to wade through that article because she did not put her name. There is no reason why she shouldn't put her name.

    I will give a personal example. We home school and the material we use is good but there are still areas we need to work on; we are not perfect and thank goodness there is a holy priest who is able to help us.

    They are ultimately going to do further damage to themselves if they keep up the complaining.
    I would rather want the visitation so I can speak for myself instead of "rumors". They can either confirm or deny what is suspected and if they humble themselves, they have a chance to grow in holiness or not.

    Just from a woman's perspective, it is very unappealing for a group to constantly whine and complain. It also shows a lack of maturity.

    God Bless,
    Mrs. O

  4. "Why is Rome demanding submission from women religious to church teachings that honestly perplex most Catholics?"

    That's my favorite quote. We are *all* to submit, even while perplexed. Religious don't get a free pass to dissent.

    Indeed. As consecrated layfolk, many of whom hold theological degrees, they ought to be held to a higher standard than ordinary laity. That is, they should know better. As far as being perplexed, generally, it's only perplexing if you want it to be.

  5. I wish that these women would come to know, and have devotion to, Our Blessed Mother. If they did, her example would certainly help them understand what is means to be a woman as she is the perfection of womanhood.

    Furthermore, they would come to understand what it means to say "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum". I sometimes can't help but wonder when the last time some of these religious sisters picked up a Rosary. Or did those all go out with the habits...

  6. Anonymous2:40 PM

    I left religious life in the 70's because of the garbage that this Conference spews out. This investigation is long overdue and might put vocations back in the light of Truth, not truth as each of us sees it.