The spin continues.
Another example comes from Fr. James Martin, SJ of America Magazine. (Remember his Twitter campaign to show appreciation of the nuns?)
Martin’s arguments against despair over CDF’s smackdown of the the LCWR do not convince. This is a good example of what is called “special pleading”. Here are his arguments.
1) Pope Francis is new to the job and, therefore, he doesn’t want to undo something the CDF was doing under Benedict XVI.
I guess that is why he refused to use the mozzetta or other papal garb, why he put aside Benedict’s ferula (though it sounds like he may use it again), and why he isn’t living in the Apostolic palace. He is convening the Gang of 8 to undo Benedict’s curia. He has only provisionally confirmed Benedict’s appointments to the highest curial offices. It’s all because he doesn’t want to undo things that were going on under Benedict.
That’s right! The one thing Francis really wouldn’t want to do, is go against Benedict’s policy concerning the LCWR.
2) He probably didn’t follow the LCWR affair closely before he was Pope and, therefore, is just going along with the CDF until he learns more.
Translation: the CDF is lying to him. If this were true, Pope Francis didn’t benefit much from all that great Jesuit training. Apparently, he isn’t able to grasp an explanation or the history of the LCWR affair. Otherwise, it could mean that Francis is shallow or craven, that he can’t say “No, let’s wait and keep this quiet until I get the full picture.”
What Martin may be missing here is that a) he does understand what is going on, b) the CDF’s briefing on this was convincing, and c) he really does agree with the CDF.
3) The appointment of the Franciscan (read: gosh, he must be poor and humble and nice and really compassionate and not all legalistic and stuff), as Secretary of the Congregation for Religious serves as a counterweight to the CDF’s newest meanie, mean, unfair, nun-bashing, knuckle-dragger move.
What is lost in this explanation is that the Congregation for Religious is pretty much irrelevant now that the CDF has its own process underway. The CDF trumps everyone in this matter because it concerns doctrine, not whether the sisters are living in apartments, or wearing veils, or have two or three years for novices…. if LCWR groups have any novices, that is.
4) Since Francis was also a religious (a Jesuit), he’ll probably be sympathetic in the future.
Translation: the CDF is not really telling him the truth. Once the nuns get a chance to talk to him, he’ll switch to their side.
It could be that Francis’ experience as a Jesuit might not work in the sisters’ favor. Francis battled mightily to keep his brethren in order when it came to the introduction of Liberation Theology when he was the Jesuit provincial in Argentina. He would have had to fight his brethren, other provincials in Latin America and also Jesuit HQ in Rome. And he was treated pretty badly by his brethren, too. He fought and stood firm against bad theology.
Does anyone think that the guy who fought that hard and at such great cost against bad theology is going to go against the recommendation of the CDF and go over to the side of a bunch of women religious who are moving “beyond the Church” and beyond Jesus?
I have a strong dubitation.
Lastly, Fr. Martin does not think this spells doom for the LCWR.
Pope Francis and the CDF didn’t exactly send the sisters an ice cream cone.
The leaders of the LCWR have a choice. Conform and reform or be prepared for the consequences which are as sure to result as the night follows the day.