More about Sr. Sandra Schneiders.
I wrote about her and her ideas HERE.
In the Sunday Times of Malta there is a piece about this divisive figure, whom the LCWR (a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns) wants to honor at the same August assembly in which they will probably reject any remnant of fidelity and obedience to the Holy See.
The article that follows is panegyric, but informative. My emphases and comments.
This lady is not for turning
Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher [It is offensive to see Margaret Thatcher's name anywhere near that of Sandra Schneiders.] said this about herself during a particularly fraught time during her premiership: a well fitting attribute. But she is not the only iron lady deserving of this title.
I met another formidable woman last week at the retreat house the Carmelites have in Lunzjata, limits of Rabat. She is, I venture to guess, in her mid-seventies, a university professor by profession and a religious sister by vocation. Within her frail physical frame resides a spirit of steel: [I would call it: sklerokardía.] Sr Sandra Schneiders.
When I said she didn’t fit the stereotype of an obedient, subservient, nun she objected, saying that she is both obedient and subservient.
“I am obedient and subservient to God, not to the bishops. Our constitution is the Gospels, not some edict written by a Vatican bureaucrat. [This is the sort of thing that she has pushed for a long time. They owe no obedience to bishops or what bishops teach either.] Our task as Church is to make Jesus a reality to contemporary men and women. [And she thinks they can do that without bishops and, therefore, priests.] We have to resist the corrupting tendencies that affect institutions, even ecclesiastical ones. Like the Apostles in the Acts I declare my obedience to God and not to men.” [This is the attitude that she touts as "prophetic".]
She buttresses her arguments by frequent references to the Gospels and Catholic theology. Schneiders is more than qualified to present such arguments. Her high theology qualifications were earned at the Istitut Catholique de Paris and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. [Oooooo!]
About Scripture and spirituality she knows a thing or two. Sister Sandra is professor emerita of scripture spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, and gives courses in biblical spirituality, Christian spirituality and religious life. She is also a bestselling scholar who has followers even in Malta.
When I told her religious sisters in many countries, including ours, hardly play a leadership role in the life of the Church, [Okay, now we know that the writer is more than just sucking up for the sake of the interview.] she said: [And here is what I am talking about when I use the phrase "Magisterium of Nuns", which is against and over that of bishops of the Holy Father.]
“Sisters in the US, on the contrary, play a very vital role… we are the US Church’s most credible body. We have more credibility than the bishops and the priests because we are closer to the people, particularly to those who are oppressed by society and are discriminated against by the institutional Church.” [She sounds rather like a socialist community organizer, no? And note the distinction she makes about the "institutional" Church. Schneiders belongs to a different Church, a "ministerial" Church.]
We then speak of the Leadership Conference which incorporates more than 80 per cent of the 60,000 sisters of the US. [No, it doesn't. It represents the leaders of religious communities, not all the members of those communities.] This body has been for some time in a spot of trouble (a bit of an understatement) with the Vatican. The latter has embarked on both a visitation and a doctrinal evaluation of the Leadership Conference. Schneiders looks at these initiatives as a wholesale inquisitorial investigation aimed at undermining the credibility of the sisters. [So that's what's going on!]
Schneiders laments that the sabotage of Vatican II has now been going on for years by the appointment of bishops, described by her as both conservative and inefficient. Many Catholics don’t consider these bishops as their leaders, she adds. [And the LCWR is going to honor her in August. Unless they change the plan, that is.]
Some months ago a Maltese missionary had given me a similar negative appreciation while commenting on the episcopal appointment in Latin America, where he had served the Church for decades. [Imagine what sort of bishops would be acceptable to the writer... or Schneiders.]
[And now liturgical translation!] Another challenge to Vatican II, Schneider says, is the new translation of the English missal which has been mired in controversy: “This is a terrible translation not reflecting the language of the people. [Daft. The "language of the people". What is that, exactly?] It is ushering in an unintelligible liturgy. [Then she isn't as bright as she thinks she is.] This is in total contrast to the simplicity Jesus taught and lived.” [Lemme get this straight. Schneider's things that what Jesus said and did was "simple"?]
I broadened the subject of our conversation to the current conflict between Barack Obama and the US bishops on what is being called the contraceptive mandate. [If it is being called that, then the people using that phrase don't have a clue about what the real issue is. The real issue is NOT contraception.] The bishops are accusing Obama of undermining religious liberty. The controversy has been going on for some time. I had addressed it in my commentary of April 29 titled ‘Politicians, good Catholics and dissenting opinions’.
Is it an issue of religious liberty as the bishops are saying? I asked. [Gosh! Do you think Schneiders will say that it is?]
Schneiders answers with a resounding No. She categorically states that Obama’s efforts to legislate universal healthcare should have been staunchly supported by all Catholics, particularly by the bishops, since 13 million US citizens were not covered by any health insurance – a great obscenity if there ever was one. “Such support was not always forthcoming,” she said. [BTW... Schneiders dances around the gold calf which is the ultimate feminist sacrament (abortion). After reading all the nuanced blather she says on the matter (e.g., HERE) it is hard to conclude that she isn't pro-abortion.]
Turning to the current controversy on the contraceptive mandate, [No, that isn't what it is...] Schneider thinks the compromise offered by Obama provided an acceptable basis for agreement. [What a surprise! She supports the Obama Administration's positions. I'll bet you didn't see that one coming!]
I mentioned that 12 lawsuits were recently filed against the US government on behalf of 43 distinct Catholic organisations, charging that the Health and Human Services Department’s contraception edict violates statutory and constitutional law.
She is definitely not in agreement with such a strategy. [Say it ain't so!]
I pointed out that Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, had expressed concern about the strategy of filing lawsuits, adding that “there is a concern among some bishops that there ought to have been more of a wider consultation”.
America Magazine reported that Mgr Blaire was worried that some groups “very far to the right” are trying to use the conflict as “an anti-Obama campaign”. [And, even if we accept that premise about the "far right", and we don't, the ] (Since then Mgr Blaire has issued a clarification stating his solid support for the other bishops as he believes this is an issue of “unacceptable intrusion of government into the life of the Church by the Mandate”.)
Asked whether she would vote for Obama, Schneiders said she does not like everything about the Obama administration for it is too trigger happy, and some civil rights are being eroded because of security concerns. However, she declared without hesitation that she would vote for him as Obama’s vision and policies are much better when compared with Mitt Romney’s. [More abortions and fewer jobs for everyone!]
“If the bishops defeat Obama it will be a very sad day. Romney is a greedy, selfish man. He is on the side of the rich,” she concluded. [I think she has probably slipped her trolley.]
The issue has deeply divided the Catholics in the United States and even some Obama supporters think he has not always treated the Catholic Church well.
Back to Sr Sandra Schneiders…
When I asked her about the possibility of the ordination of women, [Anyone want to guess in advance what she thinks?] Schneiders said that she believes this would eventually happen. She does not yearn for it, however. [She would see priesthood as something "patriarchal". She hates anything having to do with men. For Schneiders, "every aspect" of the Catholic faith "is not just tainted but perverted by the evil of patriarchy. It is not that the tradition has some problems; the tradition is the problem." HERE.]
She then went on to make a striking point: “Sisters should remain sisters. This is our vocation and our strength. They can take nothing away from us, unlike the priest. [Which suggests that she should be defending priests and bishops as an oppressed class.]
“If a priest’s clerical state should ever be removed by the Church, he would lose his identity and raison d’être. As we are we would never lose our identity, prophetic charisma, and freedom.” [Yadda yadda... she still craves approval from the men in Rome.]
One may agree or disagree with her, but throughout our meeting I could not but notice that her comments were motivated by her love for the Church, as she perceives it. [Indeed.]