Today Pope Francis met with some 800 leaders of women’s religious institutes from around the world in an organization called the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). Think of an international version of the LCWR.
This meeting of women religious in Rome has been injected with controversy by American nuns of the LCWR who went there, and who have openly tried to draw attention to their own difficulties with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The LCWR is under doctrinal scrutiny. More controversy was introduced by the strange remarks made to the international group by the Prefect of the Congregation for Religious (the title is longer than that, but I am not going to write it out all the time), His Eminence João Card. Braz de Aviz, who claimed – perhaps through a momentary memory lapse – that the CDF had not kept Religious in the loop in the doctrinal investigation. Those remarks got the liberal sisters and their camp-followers all worked up yesterday as they sensed a rift which they could exploit, if only they cold pour some noise and energy into it.
Today, however, I think their hopes are greatly diminished.
As you read my quick translation (I haven’t seen anything official), keep a few things in mind.
- A couple weeks back Pope Francis approved of what the CDF was doing in regard to the LCWR, thus prompting the LCWR types and their pets in the catholic media to wonder whether the Prefect of the CDF hadn’t maybe lied to Francis, or had not shared enough information with him.
- The sisters of the LCWR, as well as all the expounders of the “Magisterium of Nuns” (the gals who seek to place their own pronouncements over and against that of the Magisterium of the bishops), have been droning mantra-style that focus on being obedient to God rather than to the Church. That’s as fine as goes, in an ultimate sense, but the sisters wind up pushing the Church out of the picture completely.
- The other day Card. Braz de Aviz said some incomprehensible things about “obedience” in his address to this UISG group. In effect, from what I read, obedience became so vague that it could mean almost anything.
- It is my bold bet that the CDF contributed in a major way to Pope Francis address to the UISG.
- That said, here are two excerpts from Francis address to this international group of leaders of women’s religious institutes, the UISG.
From the first part of Francis’ talk:
Obedience as listening to the will of God, in the interior movement of the Holy Spirit authenticated by the Church, accepting that obedience passes also through human mediation. Remember that the relationship of authority-obedience is contextualized in the much larger context of the ministry of the Church and it constitutes a special fulfillment of its mediating function (cf Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life… The service of authority and obedience, 12)
To my mind, this runs over what Card. Braz de Aviz said the other day. Francis reminds the sisters that, yes, you do have to obey your human superiors, and the Church – no individuals – gets to authenticate the motions of the Spirit.
Note that Francis quoted a curial document.
And now this, which will make this a pretty bad day for the LCWR types (once someone tells them what Francis said). Note that the phrase in Italian “sentire con la Chiesa” is very tricky to translate. ”Sentire” means a whole range of things, but it points to “sensing your way, trying to discern, feel, apprehend with the Church”. It has to do aligning your mind, heart and will with what the Church thinks and wills. I chose “think with the Church”, to underscore that we must keep the rational dimension of the “sensing” front and center. That said:
Finally, the ecclesial aspect (ecclesialità) as one of the constitutive dimensions of the consecrated life, a dimension which must be constantly recovered and deepened in life. Your vocation is a fundamental charism through the journey of the Church, and it is not possible that a consecrated woman or man do not “think” with the Church, which gave birth to us in Baptism; a “thinking” with the Church which finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Shepherds and the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome, visible sign of unity. The announcement of and the witness to the Gospel, for every Christian, is never an isolated act. This is important, the announcing of and the witnessing to the Gospel for every Christian is never an isolated act or that of a group, and no evangelizer whosoever acts, as Paul VI recalled so well, “under the force of his own inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name” (Ap. Ex. Evangelii nuntiandi, 80) [sic... probably should be par. 60]. Paul VI continued: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think to live outside the Church, to love Jesus without living the Church (cf ibid., 16). Feel strongly the responsibility that you have to care for the formation of your Institutes in the sound doctrine of the Church, in the love of the Church and in the ecclesial spirit.
In sum, the centrality of Christ and of the Gospel, authority as a service of love, to “think” in and with Mother Church: these are the three main points I desire to leave with you, to which I join once again my gratitude for your work, which is not always easy.
1) Christ and the Gospel are central
2) authority as a service of love (which is charity)
3) aligning one’s heart, mind and will with the Church
That is what I had time to render for you this morning. I think these are the more important sections of Francis’ address. No doubt the whole thing will be available soon in English.
In this address, Francis gently but effectively said “No” to what the LCWR has been doing and saying and he again, publicly, gave support to what the CDF has undertaken.
UPDATE: 15:53 GMT:
What to make of Cindy Wooden’s under-reporting of Pope Francis address for CNS? HERE
Is it my imagination or does her article leave out the real meat of Pope Francis’ message to the sisters?
Take a look for yourselves.
UPDATE: 17:23 GMT:
It is now after Noon in Kansas City, MO, where the National Schismatic Reporter has its offices.
Do we find on their fishwrappy site anything precise or accurate about Pope Francis’ address to the UISG? I can’t see it. Maybe I missed it?
On the other hand, the report of what the Pope has been available on the Vatican website for over 5 hours. I found it easily enough, and I’m recovering from a fever.
Perhaps, so far, all NSR has depended on is Cindy Wooden’s story.
What gives? Fishwrap was beating an excited drum about this audience for days.