It is hardly a surprise that bloggers and Catholic media outlets are not writing in greater detail about what Pope Francis told the international sisters group the other day.
Given that the American sisters over there were wowed by the fact that Francis spoke to them, that they heard the odd comments of Cardinal Braz de Aviz, and that most of them have no idea what Francis said in his Italian address, I am not surprise.
This is weather-vane stuff. More people ought to be interested in this, but… hey.
In that light, I point you to a piece by Jeff Mirus at CatholicCulture.org. Mirus gets it right, but has a slightly different angle on it than I have.
He starts off:
Pope Francis has begun his assault against the secularization of religious life, attacking the late-20th century tendency to separate religious commitment from the Church in order to serve the spirit of the world. We have seen this tendency in the shift to purely secular service among women religious, accompanied by New Age spirituality and feminist careerism. We have seen this tendency in the penetration of Modernism into religious formation, the fostering of homosexuality in religious life and, among male religious at least, also pornography and even sexual abuse.
And this may be the money paragraph:
The latest evidence of the widespread rebellion against the Church was found in the effort of Sister Mary Lou Wirtz, President of the International Union of Superiors General, to derail the reform of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious last Tuesday. Sister Mary Lou claimed that the nature of authority and obedience had changed since Vatican II, that the LCWR wanted to focus on what “Gospel leadership” means today, and that the Vatican was clearly not interested in that topic.
But Pope Francis cannot be fooled in this. He has experienced the rot in religious life first-hand; he was marginalized by his Jesuit Superiors as a young priest, just as true men and women of the Church in so many religious orders have been for the past two generations. [It is important to get this piece of the narrative out there. It is a surprise how many people still don’t know this part! Mark my word: most Jesuits choked on the news of the election of Bergoglio.] This is an open scandal, and one of the key questions surrounding the election of Pope Francis has been whether he would find a way to escalate the fight. To put the question clearly: Will he shift from words to discipline?
We don’t know yet, but it has not taken him long to respond to Sister Mary Lou or to go on the offensive verbally in a tone which sounds suspiciously like he is ready to lay down the law.
Mirus got it.