Those of you who wonder why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the American Bishops initiated a reform of the leadership of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), should take a little trip down memory lane.
Vast sectors of women religious in the USA have for decades been infested with a radical feminism so poisonous that many of them, especially in leadership, have even come to defend the killing of babies.
The problems in many communities of some are deeply rooted and, like all weeds, are hard to extirpate.
The following is a review of some key figures in this history of dissent and defiance. Some of these nuns have faded from view and others are still quite visible.
These are, as it were, the “church Mothers” on which their alternative Magisterium of Nuns was founded.
They all have a lot to answer for.
When you hear some of the radical nuns and their liberal journalist buddies griping about oppression, feigning not to understand what “the Vatican” is doing to them, hiding being words like “freedom” and “respect”, lying about the facts, keep the following list in mind. Remember that the CDF and USCCB project of reform has been long in coming.
Nuns Gone Wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Theresa Kane: as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 1979, she greeted Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. In her address she urged him to open all ministries of Church life to women. Her remarks made headlines around the world. Shortly after her address, she stated that “as a result of the greeting, a few congregations withdrew from the conference. Through that experience LCWR became more public; the membership gained new responsibilities.” Today she supports women in deciding to undergo fake ordinations of women in the Catholic Church as if they were real. “The Roman Catholic women priesthood is small, highly criticized, and not going away,” she went on. “No one controls our future but ourselves.”
Agnes Mary Mansour, now deceased, was a Catholic nun who in 1983 left her religious order so she could retain her position as the director of the Michigan Department of Social Services. The controversy involved her refusal to make a public statement against abortion. She thought that as long as abortion was legal and available to the wealthy, the procedure should be equally available to women who needed government assistance.
24 Nuns who signed A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion, alternatively referred to by its pull quote “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics” or simply “The New York Times ad”, a full-page advertisement placed on 7 October 1984 in The New York Times by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC): “Statements of recent Popes and of the Catholic hierarchy have condemned the direct termination of pre-natal life as morally wrong in all instances. There is a mistaken belief in American society that this is the only legitimate Catholic position.” Many signers put their names on the ad because they viewed it as a partial response to the highly publicized anti-abortion statements of Archbishop John J. Card. O’Connor of New York. His insistence that a Catholic could not in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate was clearly aimed at Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, a Catholic, a member of O’Connor’s archdiocese, and a consistent pro-choice advocate.
Mary Louise Denny
Agnes Mary Mansour (at the time an ex-nun)
Rose Dominic Trapasso
Margaret Ellen Traxler
Ann Patrick Ware
Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey: in 1984, along with 22 other nuns, they co-signed an ad in The New York Times by Catholics for Free Choice challenging Catholic teaching on procured abortion. Both refused to recant their statements when ordered to do so by the Holy See and their religious order. They both signed a second pro-abortion statement, published in the National Catholic Reporter, and participated in a pro-abortion rally organized by the National Organization of Women (NOW) in Washington on 6 March 1986.
Margaret Traxler: now deceased, was a supporter of activism among homosexual Catholics, who once carried a banner into the Vatican to protest the church’s stand on abortion. In 1982 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed a Constitutional amendment proposed by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. It would have allowed state legislatures to restrict or ban abortions. In an appearance on the Phil Donahue show at that time, Traxler said, “I believe every human being has a free will, God respects our free will even though it is sometimes used against God’s will. I believe women must have the right to use their free will in making decisions about their own bodies.” She signed the New York Times ad in 1984 stating that abortion could sometimes be “a moral choice.” “I don’t think church leaders are living on the same planet. They are unrealistic and out of touch with the people,”. . . she said then. She was one of the first to call for women’s ordination in 1971.
Jeanine Gramick: co-foundress of the homosexual, lesbian activist organization New Ways Ministry. After a review of her public activities on behalf of the Church that concluded in a finding of grave doctrinal error, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) declared in 1999 that she should no longer be engaged in pastoral work with homosexual persons. In 2000, her congregation, in an attempt to thwart further conflict with the Vatican, commanded her not to speak publicly about homosexuality. She responded by saying, “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” In 2001, Gramick transferred to the Sisters of Loretto, another congregation of Catholic Sisters, one which supports her in her advocacy on behalf of homosexuals.
Marjorie Tuite: now deceased, was among the key organizers of the first International Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC). Tuite was also one of the “Vatican 24”, religious sisters who had signed the Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion published in the New York Times on 7 October 1984. Tuite appeared on The Phil Donahue Show on 28 January 1985 (along with fellow signers Patricia Hussey and Barbara Ferraro) to defend their refusal to recant their support of that statement.
Margaret Farley: over the years, she has taken positions favorable to abortion, same-sex “marriage,” sterilization of women, divorce and the “ordination” of women to the priesthood. Farley, who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, is well known for her radical feminist ideas and open dissent from Church teaching. In 1982, when the Sisters of Mercy sent a letter to all their hospitals recommending that tubal ligations be performed in violation of Church teaching against sterilization, Pope John Paul II gave the Sisters an ultimatum, causing them to withdraw their letter. Farley justified their “capitulation” on the ground that “material cooperation in evil for the sake of a ‘proportionate good’” was morally permissible. In other words, she declared that obedience to the Pope was tantamount to cooperation in evil, and that the Sisters were justified in doing it only because their obedience prevented “greater harm, namely the loss of the institutions that expressed the Mercy ministry.” In her presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2000 she attacked the Vatican for its “overwhelming preoccupation” with abortion, calling its defense of babies “scandalous” and asking for an end to its “opposition to abortion” until the “credibility gap regarding women and the church” has been closed. In her book Just Love she offers a full-throated defense of homosexual relationships, including a defense of their right to marry. She admits that the Church “officially” endorses the morality of “the past,” but rejoices that moral theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McCormick embrace “pluralism” on the issues of premarital sex and homosexual acts. She says that sex and gender are “unstable, debatable categories,” which feminists like her see as “socially constructed.” She has nothing but disdain for traditional morality, as when she remarks that we already know the “dangers” and “ineffectiveness of moralism” and of “narrowly construed moral systems.”
Mary Ann Cunningham: wrote an “open letter to Catholic voters” in 2006 as an alternative to the church hierarchy’s voter education efforts in Colorado and nationwide. “We encourage respect for the moral adulthood of women and will choose legislators who will recognize the right of women to make reproductive decisions and receive medical treatment according to the rights of privacy and conscience.” Cunningham said many Catholics disagree with the church’s opposition to legalized abortion for “compassionate, faithful reasons.” “I do value the voice of the church hierarchy,” Cunningham said. “But I don’t find anything in the Gospels about abortion or gay marriage.”
Louise Lears: banned from church ministries and from receiving the sacraments in 2008 by then-St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke for 1) the obstinate rejection, after written admonition, of the truth of the faith that it is impossible for a woman to receive ordination to the Sacred Priesthood (cann.750, §2; and 1371, 1º); 2) the public incitement of the faithful to animosity or hatred toward the Apostolic See or an Ordinary because of an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry (can. 1373); 3) the grave external violation of Divine or Canon Law, with the urgent need to prevent and repair the scandal involved (can. 1399); and 4) prohibited participation in sacred rites (can. 1365).
Donna Quinn an advocate for legalized abortion. As late as 2009 she was engaged in escorting women to abortion clinics in the Chicago area so they could abort their babies safe from pro-life protesters. She is now a coordinator of the radically liberal National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), which stands in opposition against the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and the exclusively male priesthood. In a 2002 address to the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as “immoral”: “I used to say: ‘This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,’” she said. “Then later I said, ‘This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I’d better work to change it.’ More recently, I am saying, ‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.”
Margaret Mary McBride: an administrator and member of the ethics committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, in Phoenix, Arizona, who incurred automatic excommunication following her sanctioning of an abortion at the hospital in November 2009. The controversy that ensued resulted in the diocesan bishop declaring that the hospital could no longer call itself Catholic.
Carol Keehan: as head of the Catholic Health Association, she sparred with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the question of health care reform, which the bishops criticized for funding abortion. Some observers have noted the critical role that she played, along with a social justice lobby of sisters called Network, in the bill’s eventual passage. In his farewell address before resigning the presidency of the U.S. Bishops’ conference last year, Cardinal Francis George – who directly opposed the health care bill, for its abortion funding – spoke of unnamed groups he said wanted to “remake the Church according to their own designs or discredit her as a voice in … public discussions” such as the debate over abortion and health care reform. As for who truly “speaks for the Catholic Church,” the cardinal left no room for doubt: “The bishops in apostolic communion and in union with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, speak for the Church in matters of faith and in moral issues and the laws surrounding them.” In another matter, less than 24 hours after the bishop of Phoenix stripped St. Joseph’s Hospital of its Catholic affiliation for performing abortions, Keehan declared that “Catholic Healthcare West (to which St Joseph’s belongs) and its system hospitals are valued members of the Catholic Health Association.” Keehan also defended the decision of Sr. Margaret Mary McBride to authorize the abortion. “They had been confronted with a heartbreaking situation,” she stated. “They carefully evaluated the patient’s situation and correctly applied the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services to it, saving the only life that was possible to save.” However, two obstetrician-gynecologists from the Diocese of Phoenix’s Medical Ethics Department said Keehan was misrepresenting both the facts of the St. Joseph’s Hospital case, and the ethical principles of Catholic health care. “It goes back to the basic issue that you can never do an evil, to achieve a good,” said Dr. William Chavira. “The act is inherently evil.” Dr. Chavira is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist who also serves on the Phoenix Diocese’s medical ethics committee.