At the conclusion of the CDF investigation of the LCWR, it is interesting to watch the conga line dance threading its delirious way through the liberal catholic MSM led by Fishwrap‘s Tom Fox, AP‘s (not catholic, but liberal) Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll, Commonweal‘s Dominic Preziosi, RNS‘s (which takes money from strange sources) David Gibson, and James Martin, SJ, at Amerika who cooed with satisfaction.
Looking at the liberal reactions side-by-side is reminds me of walking into Pompeii’s “Villa of the Mysteries”. Their elation is nearly Bacchic.
Not all online reactions have been so ecstatic.
Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org wrote (my emphases):
“We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.”
That comment did not come from a Presbyterian cleric after a Saturday-afternoon ecumenical meeting. It was made by a leading representative of American Catholic women’s religious orders, at the conclusion of a long, tense exchange with the Vatican.
Shouldn’t we be able to take it for granted that what unites Catholics is greater than their differences? And especially in the case of religious orders, pledged to the service of the Church?
But it could not be taken for granted, in the case of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. That’s why the Vatican stepped in.
Now that the intervention has run its course, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, assures us of the Vatican’s confidence that the LCWR is “fostering a vision of religious life that is centered on the Person of Jesus Christ and is rooted in the Tradition of the Church.”
Again, shouldn’t you be able to take that much for granted? But in 2008, you couldn’t.
Those statements from the two main parties do not guarantee that the Vatican intervention will prove successful. They do, however, demonstrate that the process was necessary.
That’s something that the other side is going to deny: that the process was necessary.
On a somewhat sharper register, at Creative Minority Report we read:
So the Vatican has dropped the investigation into the LCWR. Cuz in the Church, the only thing hetero these days is the doxy.
What is one to make of what happened?
On the one hand, say that the CDF really did back down, on the orders of Pope Francis or not. One possible take is that they determined that it simply wasn’t worth the effort to attempt a reform of the LCWR, in regard to its guiding principles and goals for formation and spirituality. After all, most of the groups whose leadership belong to the LCWR are dying out pretty quickly. If the CDF has closed the file, to quote one of the Left’s darlings, what difference does it make? They have no vocations.
Another point may be that the CDF isn’t the monstrous boogy which liberals delight in reviling. Perhaps the process simply ran it’s course and ended. John Allen at Crux as a somewhat less left-skewed view of what happened HERE. He might have joined the Eleusinian conga by clapping a little on the side-lines, but he didn’t strut. His analysis is, in its essentials, right, though his own leanings bleed through.
Over at Catholic World Report, Carl Olson has a good round-up of how the story has been covered, the twisted headlines, etc. Here is a sample with my emphases and comments:
There are, however, several ways of skinning the controversial Catholic cat, as Reuters reporter Philip Pullella makes evident in a piece titled “Activist U.S. nuns make concessions after Vatican investigation”. Instead of reconciliation, Pullella apparently smells capitulation and oppression. And guess who the Bad Guys are?
A six-year row between activist American nuns and Vatican officials who had branded them radical feminists ended on Thursday with the nuns conceding to demands that they keep within the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church.
The clash with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing 80 percent of U.S. nuns, became a national issue in America, with many supporters accusing the Vatican of bullying them.
The Vatican investigated the group for three years and then in 2012 issued a stinging report saying the LCWR had “serious doctrinal problems” and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the (Roman) Catholic faith”.
The Vatican criticized the group for taking a soft line on issues such as birth control and homosexual activity. ([Olson’s] emphasis added for fun)
Goodness! It’s as if the sweet little nuns had been doing nothing but putting band-aids on skinned knees and singing sweet, lilting songs of sisterhood when—wham!—those nasty guys in Rome went all patriarchal on them. Of course, the truth about the history of the LCWR and its various actions in recent years suggest a rather different story. But I don’t expect Reuters to tell it. [A safe bet.]
The New York Times says a “battle” has ended, Seattlepi.com says the “the nuns stand tall”, and Slate claims the Vatican tacitly admitted the entire matter was a waste of time.
[NB… this is rich!] Slate demonstrates it’s tenuous grasp on the story by illustrating it with a photo (see below) of habit-wearing youthful members of Sisters of Life—an order that belongs to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, not the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which is the (aging) body in question and which is not known for wearing habits (see photo above, thank you). [Yes… it is also important to look at which photos are chosen for the coverage in all these stories!] For those not versed in these matters, it is analogous to illustrating a story about a Hillary Clinton campaign stop with photos from a Tea Party convention.
A far better balance it struck by veteran reporter Francis Rocca, writing for the Wall Street Journal [behind a paywall]:
The Vatican brought to an end a three-year overhaul of a U.S. nuns’ group stemming from a controversial investigation that found the sisters had neglected church teachings on abortion and other issues.
In a final document released Thursday, the Vatican went lightly on the nuns, effectively sparing them from any sanction or further oversight. The outcome represented a markedly more conciliatory tone in a controversy that saw the Vatican widely criticized for its treatment of the sisters.
His title? “Vatican Ends Overhaul of U.S. Nuns’ Group”.
One final thought: Are matters with the LCWR really resolved—with a whimper? [as John Allen said?] Maybe. Frankly, I doubt it. I have a hard time believing that a group whose leadership has thumbed its nose at the CDF and bishops and has so often ignored (or even denied) Church teaching is going to so suddenly change its spots. I’d like to be wrong on that count. But, time will tell. In the meantime, let’s hear it for more truth in headlines and the stories beneath them.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the LCWR has its annual meeting. I wonder if they will again go with a keynote speaker like Barbara Marx Hubbard in 2012 with her snake oil: “I am here to be a voice for the Collective Emergence of humanity as a Co-creative Universal Species!” HERE Or Ilia Delio and her view that “There is no cosmos without God, and no God without cosmos.” HERE
… Lest anyone doubt that the CDF investigation was necessary….
If the CDF process produced some good fruits, I’ll be delighted. We shall see.
Meanwhile, as one of my correspondents wrote to me:
The only Catholic Franciscans left are chased like Jews in 1944 Poland for the grievous sin of attracting vocations while sticking to the rule and using certain liturgical books.
The way I see it, the nuns signed a public agreement, not a “fig leaf”, as one of the liberals in the conga line called it.
If they violate the agreement the whole Church and world can be reminded that they signed it.
In one year, in five… whatever. Scriptum manet.
The CDF did not promise to do – or not to do -anything.
The nuns did.
Let’s see if they keep their word.
Reminder: Pope Francis doesn’t like hypocrisy.
The moderation queue is on. I’ll let some comments stack up before releasing them. You can react to the post before reacting to each other.