At The Catholic Thing, Anthony Esolen has a great dialogue, I use the word a little loosely, which typifies much of what the LCWR is doing in the face of the CDF’s guidance. Let’s have a look at a little of it. You can read the rest there. (Don’t miss his concluding remarks!)
I’ve been following with some bemusement the interchanges between Cardinal Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). For readers unaware of the developments, I’ll present them here in abbreviated form:
CDF: “Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, begotten and not made, the second Person of the Holy Trinity?”
LCWR: “Why are you asking us that question? What gives you the authority to ask it?”
CDF: “Again, Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, incarnate by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary?”
LCWR: “You have no right to pick on us simply because we’re women. You arrogant misogynists! We believe that hierarchical structures must be dismantled!”
CDF: “Sisters, you seem to argue that you are ‘beyond Jesus.’ Do you in fact believe that man may be saved in the name of Jesus alone? That Christ alone reveals the Father to man, and man to himself?”
LCWR: “Why are you using sexist language? We are offended by your pronouns.”
CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father?”
LCWR: “We have advanced degrees in theology. We have received awards from our friends – we mean, from prestigious theological societies. Why are you suggesting that we are incompetent? Is it because we’re women?”
CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, yes or no?”
LCWR: “Where were you when bishops were hiding pedophiles? Why are you picking on us all of a sudden? Is it to distract people from your incompetence?”
CDF: “Sisters, the question is fundamental. At every Mass we affirm that Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the sole savior of man – of the human race. Do you believe this or not?”
LCWR: “We don’t like your attitude! Why are you shouting? What is this really all about?”
CDF: “All right, let’s move to something else. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings regarding marriage, sexual relations, the family, and the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death?”
LCWR: “Why are you ignoring the work we do with the poor?”
CDF: “Work with the poor is not at issue. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”
LCWR: “Too many people forget that the Church has many teachings regarding the poor!”
CDF: “Those are not in question. Do you affirm the Church’s prohibitions against contraception, abortion, sodomy, and divorce?”
LCWR: “Why do you assume that we speak with one voice?”
CDF: “We assume no such thing. We want to know whether you affirm the Church’s teachings.”
LCWR: “The Church needs women in positions of leadership.”
CDF: “As to that, the question is whether you or other womenshould be leading this organization. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”
LCWR: “Which teachings?”
[... there ensues more dialogue, which you can read there... ]
I have a dream. I have a dream that the orders of religious women in America will think of competence, if not of faithfulness, and show the door to women who have overseen the collapse of the glory of Catholic parish life in this country.
When you begin as the general manager of the Yankees, and in three decades your club finds itself overmatched against a good Little League team, it’s time to step down and give the job to somebody else. As it happens, there are orders of sisters that are stocked with novices, and enthusiasm, and love of Christ and His Church. Let their leaders,who are women and religious, lead this conference, and move from strength to strength.
The LCWR has it dead wrong. We want them out, because we want more women religious, more faithful, more influential in schools and hospitals and colleges, and more effective in converting a very silly, sad, and vicious world to Christ.
Fr. Z Kudos to Prof. Esolen, who captured the overall tone of the LCWR’s reactions and responses to the legitimate oversight being exercised responsibly by the Holy See.
Esolen, by the way, translated Dante’s Divine Comedy into English and did a great job of it. If you have never read the Divine Comedy, you should. You could start with Esolen (Part 1, Inferno HERE) or perhaps with Dorothy Sayer’s fine version (Part 1, Inferno, HERE). There are many renderings to choose from. I am getting into one by Clive James. I would very much like to teach on Dante someday. Maybe it’ll happen.
When you make the excellent choice to read the Divine Comedy, here are a couple tips. First and foremost, make the decision that you will read the whole thing. Don’t read just the Inferno. The really great stuff comes in Purgatorio and Paradiso. Also, read through a canto to get the line of thought and story and then go back over it looking at the notes in your edition. Sayers has good notes. Dante was, I think, the last guy who knew everything. Each Canto is dense with references. You will need notes to help with the history, philosophy, cosmology, poetic theory, politics, theology, etc.
In any event, Esolen did a good job. Kudos to him,