US women (progressivist) religious defy Vatican Visitation

Typical of the shrill dissent sadly … nay rather tragically emanating from many groups of women religious in the United States, some of the liberated religious gals are going to resist the announced Visitation.

The is from the excellent Catholic Keys, blog of the newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Non-violent" Resistance Against Visitation Urged

A private email from IHM Sister Sandra M. Schneiders has been posted with her permission at NCReporter. In it, she urges "non-violent resistance" to the Vatican’s Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious in the United States, excerpt:

We cannot, of course, keep them from investigating. But we can receive them, politely and kindly, for what they are, uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house. When people ask questions they shouldn’t ask, the questions should be answered accordingly. I just hope we will not, as we American Religious so often do, think that by total "openness" and efforts to "dialogue" we are going to bring about mutual understanding and acceptance. This is not mutual and it is not a dialogue. The investigators are not coming to understand  [True enough. I think they already understand Earth Mother Goddess worship, walking the labyrinth, and enneagram spirituality.  Just a guess.] – believe me, we found that out in the seminary investigation. So let’s be honest but reserved, supply no ammunition that can be aimed at us, be non-violent even in the face of violence, [Oh brother. What a drama queen.] but not be naive. Non-violent resistance is what finally works as we’ve found out in so many arenas. . .

. . .We are really no longer "Congregations dedicated to works of the apostolate" – that is, monastic communities whose members "go out" to do institutionalized works basically assigned by the hierarchy as an extension of their agendas, e.g., in Catholic schools and hospitals, etc. . . .

. . .This is a fake war being stirred up by the Vatican at the instigation of the frightened. . . .   [You know… if occurs to me that, with the shift of demographics, this doesn’t have any effect on many people any more.  Ho huh… buzz words from the past.]

Meanwhile, Mother Clare Millea, appointed by the Vatican to conduct the visitation, sounds a more pacific tone in a Feb. 20 letter to Superiors (pdf), excerpt:

As this Visitation continues, I become more convinced that it is a wonderful expression of the Church’s concern and support for religious life in America. I have received many communications from clergy, religious and laity who, grateful for the outstanding and sometimes hidden contributions religious women have made and continue to make, have pledged their prayerful support of the Visitation. Let us all continue to pray that it may promote the vitality of our communities, that we may be ever more faithful witnesses to the Word and instruments of true communion in the Church.

It seems a very good idea to pray for Mother Clare and all involved in the Apostolic Visitation. In fact, Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman has set up an "Apostolic Visitation Prayer Support" group on Facebook. Click here to join if you’re a member


Since I probably don’t do enough penance in life, stuff like this make me wish that I were one of the "visitors".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Rancher says:

    Her name doesn’t ring a bell but I think, from her verbage, that I remember her from the past. Wasn’t she the one who led anti-war protests in the 60’s attired in a crown of flowers and in place of a crucifix a large metalic peace symbol on a chain around her neck? Yes, yes !! That’s it and I remember her Berkenstock sandles. Isn’t it amazing that well over 40 years later the tone of the message is the same even though it may be on an entirely different subject?

    On a serious note what is the purpose for such “orders”. Why do they even exist if not for their own selfish purposes. It certainly isn’t to be supportive of the Universal Church and to do the corporal works of mercy. It’s really all about them.

  2. pinoycatholic says:

    Guess the sisters are just following the latest trend in Catholic religious and clerical life… OPEN DISSENT. They find it just so fashionable to oppose anything coming from Rome be it discipline in the sacraments, religious life. Cardinals, bishops, priests, religious… who is left to support our Holy Father? Oh yeah, the silent majority of the Church, the LAITY.

  3. KK says:

    Sadly, I have found over the years that those who assign emotions like “frightened” to others are merely reporting what they are seeing in themselves but are unwilling to admit.

  4. Catherine says:

    My aunt is an older nun in failing health with an order in Texas which long ago ceased to be faithful to the teachings of the Church. I have seen them go through the stages of shedding their habits—literally and figuratively—whichh they once adhered to. It gave way to make-up, earrings, hair styling, much commercial TV-watching, and frequenting R-rated movies. I honestly don’t know what they do for the Church anymore. While they do charitable works of caring for one another, their vocations are as stale and nonexistent as their theology. I am sad for what I have witnessed growing up.

  5. Erin says:

    The IHM sisters are a joke. Mary, Mother of God, pray and intercede for them.

  6. Brady says:

    IHM = Immaculate Heart of Mary right? I didn’t realize that they were like this. There are IHM sisters here in Wichita who are great. They are orthodox, love the pope and all of the Church’s teachings. They teach in the Catholic High Schools here, and wear great habits. I wonder if this part of the same order?

  7. TomB says:

    Why are they being defensive?

  8. Julie says:

    Just want to point out that Religious, whether Brothers or Sisters or Nuns or Friars or Monks…etc…ARE LAITY.

    There are only 2 Canonical states…clergy and laity. Religious are the laity.

    Not surprised at the IHM. They won’t last long…it’s a death-rattle, unless they convert back to their original foundation.

    Pray for them, pray for all religious, especially those who have held fast to their vows even as their own communities left them.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    I am inclined to say: Let these dissident religious be as rude as they want during the visitation. Perhaps it will result in the shutting down of their “religious” houses.

  10. Tim says:

    I recently read Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism by Donna Steichen. It outlines the feminist “goddess” religion (gnosticism) that has exploded in recent years. She also does a superb job of relating how it has invaded religious communities (especially women religious) and the methods that these new gnostics are using to influence our children and catechumens.

    It is a good read to understand where types like this are coming from…..if you can stomach it. We need to pray…..hard.

  11. DeborahAnne says:

    I came across this article sometime ago written by Sister ‘Earth Mother’.

    Did Jesus Exclude Women from Priesthood?
    by Sandra M. Schneiders

    You will need to hold your Rosaries tight while reading……

    I will pray for all involved in the vistation.

    Deus Lux Mea

  12. L says:

    I have a relative in the IHM’s and I think that I recall her saying something about a split. So there might be diverse groups under the same name?


  13. shadrach says:

    This is the twilight of the age of aquarius… the age of aquarius… aquarius!!!!!!

  14. LCB says:

    “When people ask questions they shouldn’t ask, the questions should be answered accordingly.”

    I thought part of belonging to the “thinking Church” was that you asked “brave” question that “speak truth to power” in a “prophetic way.”

    All of a sudden questioning and seeking answers is met with “shaddup and know your place?” If I didn’t know better I would suspect that the good Sister is not so tolerant after all.

  15. Bob K. says:

    Nature Stations: A Meditative Walk
    The new IHM Nature Stations booklet is a gem of education, reflection, poetry, images and ritual.

    The beautiful, 30-page, four-color booklet is an invitation to spend time with the wonder, beauty and vulnerability of creation. Nature Stations, A Meditative Walk, links the universe story, Earth story, our Christian belief story and our personal stories to nurture an awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation with God, Source of all Being.

    What no Stations of the Cross book. Looks New Age to me!. What about the stories in the Bible?.

  16. CarpeNoctem says:

    Uh, what did we “find out” from the seminary visitation? I was there. I met with a “visitor” and had a very polite, but mostly inconsequential “dialogue”. I was particularly disappointed when my brief, considered, and (if I do say so myself) insightful ‘sound bite’ critique of my 5 years in the system did not seem to even merit a quick note scribbled on the bishop’s legal pad.

    I am sure that there were reports issued to the individual institutions by the vistation teams which were never made public. I do know that there have been visible, external adjustments made in seminary life which would never have been made, short of the command from an apostolic visitation report. But in the end, I am not sure if there is any way to tell if the more serious formation and curriculum deficiencies have really been identified, much less addressed.

    For the record, my ‘visit’ was not a hatchet job on the institution. As broken as the seminary system was (and I presume still is), there is a lot of good going on there. The seminary, even in its brokeness, was necessary to make me and my classmates the priests we are today. The contemporary seminary situation is a good approximation of the institutional brokeness we find in the rank-and-file parishes we are serving and, by the grace of God, fixing brick by brick.

    My point is that I am not sure these sisters have much to worry about. I am not sure that in the seminary visitation we learned anything we didn’t already know. I am also not sure that “Rome” really fixed much, if anything.

  17. Bob K. says:

    No wonder they are being investigated.

  18. Merriweather says:

    So…the Sisters of Perpetual Heresy are nervous that the apostolic visitor may find fault with their lapel pin nuns. Hmm. Maybe Sr. Mary Birkenstock, L.P.N. can round up all their young novices and really show those nosey visitors that they know how to run a religious society.

    OOPS….there aren’t any young novices…Perhaps they can just hide in the labyrinth until it all goes away.

  19. Sandra in Severn says:

    One of my mother’s cousins is in a women religious group (although she was once a professed nun) it does not surprise me at all to read all this.

    From my limited experience, the orders that have novices, that while not growing, but holding steady are those that have quietly gone “back” to mother church. There are also some cloistered orders and houses that are finding new vocations and new missions to fulfill, and women young and old are coming to them.

    Interesting, we also had IHM sisters teaching in the parish my mother still belongs to, they now wear (the traditional) habits, and not the ones I remember from my teen years (coordinated maroon polyester suits). As someone else said, it is not the entire order.

    Prayers for the misguided and naive women religious, that they would stop wandering and come home again.

  20. LCB says:

    Is it too much to ask that our female religious abide by the words of Vatican II? For surely the documents read as follows,

    “5. Members of each institute should recall first of all that by professing the evangelical counsels they responded to a divine call so that by being not only dead to sin (cf. Rom. 6:11) but also renouncing the world they may live for God alone. They have dedicated their entire lives to His service. This constitutes a special consecration, which is deeply rooted in that of baptism and expresses it more fully.

    Since the Church has accepted their surrender of self they should realize they are also dedicated to its service.”

    and again,

    “14. In professing obedience, religious offer the full surrender of their own will as a sacrifice of themselves to God and so are united permanently and securely to God’s salvific will.

    After the example of Jesus Christ who came to do the will of the Father (cf. John 4:34; 5:30; Heb. 10:7; Ps. 39:9) and “assuming the nature of a slave” (Phil. 2:7) learned obedience in the school of suffering (cf. Heb. 5:8), religious under the motion of the Holy Spirit, subject themselves in faith to their superiors who hold the place of God. Under their guidance they are led to serve all their brothers in Christ, just as Christ himself in obedience to the Father served His brethren and laid down His life as a ransom for many (cf. Matt. 20:28; John 10:14-18). So they are closely bound to the service of the Church and strive to attain the measure of the full manhood of Christ (Eph. 4:13).”

    Clearly, Sr. Schneiders would do well to review the words of the Council Fathers and the documents of Vatican II.

  21. Irenaeus says:

    Schneiders is one of these serious Catholic feminist scholars — she’s written books, one in particular on interpretation that made me retch. A serious intellectual, if a mediocre one, but a serious heretic as well.

  22. Brendan says:

    Here are some telling statistics from 2003:

    “In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.”

  23. I am very blessed to call Sr. Eva-Maria my friend, and the Vatican did well to select her to lead the visitation. It is a visitation sorely needed. Women’s religious communities are so diverse these days, and by diverse I don’t mean diverse charisms (which is also true), but rather diverse in terms of Catholic and heretic. Too many of our women religious (it’s true of many of the men, too, but I fear it is worse among women’s religious) have simply left the Church behind them, and the IHM who wrote the e-mail printed in NCR is indicative of this lot, calling Vatican representatives “unwelcome visitors” and decrying the possibility of Rome asking “the wrong questions.” It seems to me the Church is in need of some serious pruning, otherwise the dead and lifeless branches threaten to kill the entire tree.

  24. QMJ says:

    Things like this use to get me down. Then I had the great blessing of attending a university with a strong
    presence of orthodox, vibrant, growing religious orders. It is certainly a wonderful witness to help one
    stay hopeful in the presence of religious such as St. Schneiders. Truly, her words are the last dying cries
    of one who, trying to be perenial, became quite dated.

    Prayers, prayers, and more prayers.

  25. depeccatoradvitam says:

    Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM was another Saint Louis upgrade. She was wonderful here as vocations director concurrent with Archbishop Emeritus Burkes tenure and very visible within our Catholic Youth Apostolate. With the Alton, IL FSGM Motherhouse across the river they are a vibrant and growing congregation. Little wonder that they are also thriving in Lacrosse, WI and participate fully in New Evangelization of America. The FSGM was among some of the first to tour the new Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lacrosse together with Archbishop Burke. Together with the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecelia of Nashville who came to Saint Louis under Archbishop Burke, we have been fortunate to see vibrant growing congregations with true and faithful daughters of the Church built upon fullness of orthodox values, a passion for catechesis and teaching and true witness for our youth (and in full habit to boot!).

    These are blessed signs we have seen in Saint Louis alone.

    It can be done. Brick by Brick. For this we must rejoice and for these women we must pray.

  26. Carlos Palad says:

    “In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.”

    That was in 2003. By end of 2007 they were down to 59,000.

  27. DoB says:

    “Since I probably don’t do enough penance in life, stuff like this make me wish that I were one of the “visitors””

    Fr Z, I have visions of Godesses fleeing and lovely smelly candles being sent as missiles in hot pursuit of the reprobates so NO I don’t think this would be a penance for you but a temptation to go loco, not what you need me thinks!

  28. English Catholic says:

    There can be no healing before you lance the boil. When the boil is being lanced, don’t be shocked to see pus oozing out!

  29. Diane says:

    Total lack of humility in that article.

  30. Calleva says:

    The IHM nuns were badly affected, their numbers sharply reduced during the 1960s, after Carl Rogers introduced group therapy.

    I’m pleased to read that some are now orthodox.

  31. Some good news from Ireland about the Redemptoristines, a contemplative order, in the context of this discussion:

    Sr Lucy’s profession follows on from the recent first profession in the same community of Sr Maura Walsh. As you can imagine this event is one of significant importance to this enclosed contemplative community. I am deep in admiration for these nuns who four or five years ago had no vocations and were facing a very uncertain future. Their commitment to prayer and a deep desire to attract vocations has resulted in the fact that this community of thirteen nuns now has five of its members in formation. This is a truly remarkable achievement and a reminder to all religious orders, congregations, societies and dioceses in this country that if there is a will and a deep desire to foster, nourish and attract vocations then tremendous things can happen.

    From Fr Gerard Dunne OP is the vocation director of the Dominican Friars in Ireland and keeps a very hope-filled blog.

  32. Charles R. Williams says:

    I wonder what is happening to the assets of these religious orders as the nuns get older. The money should be used to support them as they age but I imagine it is being squandered and the rest of us will be asked to pay for their care.

    And then I wonder about the faithful nuns who have been abandoned by their radical sisters.

    So how do we respond to appeals to support aging religious? Which religious will be helped? Are they especially worthy of our financial support? What is happening to the assets of the order? Does Sister Schneiders have any special claim to our help based on her “service” to the Catholic community? How do we make sure the faithful nuns that sacrificed their lives for us spend their last few years in comfort and dignity?

  33. Erin says:

    Brady – they can’t be the same order. These are the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan, although they mostly don’t live in Monroe. They built a multi-million dollar motherhouse to house their 80 or so homebound elderly sisters but most sisters live elsewhere. Their charism has something to do with saving the planet, and they own a fleet of Holy Priuses. Of course, they shut down the Catholic schools they ran in Michigan due to lack of funding. Anyway, they wouldn’t be caught dead in habits, so I’m sure your IHMs have never been to Monroe.

  34. Paul Haley says:

    You know, I don’t ever remember a Catholic nun speaking with such disdain for the Holy See in my youth (40’s and 50’s). So, the obvious question that comes to mind is How is such a person allowed to use the label “Catholic” when she obviously is something else? This example is only one of many that is a product of the so-called women’s liberation movement which, instead of liberating women, placed them under the domination of kooks like this.

  35. Paul Stokell says:

    Brady: IHM = Immaculate Heart of Mary right?

    Some would say “I Hate Men.”

  36. peregrinus says:

    As I was doing Vespers, I was suddenly reminded of the words of the Gospel: You will know them by their fruits.

    I sense fear, disobedience, anger and pride throughout the sister’s email. Satan has clearly left his mark on this sister.

    Thank you Father Z for bringing attention to the prayer movement. I’ll make sure I pray for the success of the Apostolic Visitation and the conversion of these wayward sisters.

  37. There are IHMs in the Archdiocese of Washington DC. Having met one or two of them, I am a bit suspect.

    However, Sr. Ackerman is part of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are mainly a teaching order and are very loyal and faithful to the Church. They have a wonderful Mother House in Hamden, CT. I went there once, met a number of the retired sisters and was able to join them for evening prayer. What a wonderful order. If she is like the other sisters, the Vatican got the right person to lead this effort.

  38. oooopps…I should have written Mother Clare Millea…mea culpa

  39. TMG says:

    Deliver us from evil. Thinking a book discussion group at my former parish would introduce me to the writings of Catholic saints and Catholic authors, I joined it. Instead, Sister Donna (pantsuit, short hair) was so very Joyful to introduce us to a popular novel. I was shocked to discover that the thrust of the book was the main character’s bisexuality and soft porn descriptions of the on-the-sly physical goings-on with the real love of her life – who didn’t happen to be her husband.

    Sister Donna told us she teaches at the seminary. I hope the Catholic Church purges those religious that are masquerading as Catholic. They are leading souls to hell.

  40. Chris says:

    “I just hope we will not … think that by total “openness” and efforts to “dialogue” we are going to bring about mutual understanding and acceptance.”

    I wonder if they take that same approach with ecumenism?

  41. PNP, OP says:

    Don’t hold your breath that anything significant is going to come out of this visitation. I do not for a second doubt the competence or the sincerity of the poor sister who has taken on this burden. She will be in my prayers from now on! But I know the sisters well enough to know that nothing is going to move them, nothing is going to change them. Well, except the clock: tick-tock, tick-tock…

    IMHO, most of these women welcome the visitation as a new focus for their oppositional energies. Though they would never in a million years admit it, they love the hierarchy…it’s Big Daddy to their Spoiled Brat.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  42. Michael says:

    The IHM sisters of Wichita are indeed an autonomous branch, having become so in 1979

  43. Charivari Rob says:

    Charles R. Williams – “…So how do we respond to appeals to support aging religious? Which religious will be helped? …”

    I would probably start by inquiring with your local diocese. If they have an annual collection for retired religious but can’t answer you with satisfactory specificity on where the money goes, I’d choose an order to inquire directly. The good ones conduct themselves in a businesslike manner with respect to accounting for funds. They’ll at least have figures to cite on how much they spend on development, supporting their sisters in ‘active ministry’ and those in ‘retirement’.

    If you’re interested in supporting a particular intention such as medical care for the retired sisters, I expect you’d be able to earmark your donation for a particular purpose.

    If you have reservations about giving directly to any of the groups yet still want to help, perhaps you can find out from a particular order about a provider they use, such as a particular hospital, pharmacy, wholesale medical supply, or durable medical equipment supplier – and pay something there on account for the sisters’ expenses.

  44. Henry Edwards says:

    It’s important to realize that there are quite different branches of the IHM’s. It used to be said that those with West Coast mother house were “Yes, yes” to all change, those with Midwest mother house were “Maybe, maybe”, and those with Philadelphia mother house were “No, no!” to wacky change, remaining pretty faithful and orthodox.

  45. Since I probably don’t do enough penance in life, stuff like this make me wish that I were one of the “visitors”.

    (Giggle-Snort, wiping my eyes)

    O please do, just keep a video blog for us, I can just see it now, the door cracks open, the nunpriestess, in her tie died pretend vestments, holding a cross with the earthgoddess on it shreaking, oh my goddess, its HIM, a swift flick of the holy water and I”m Melting, I’m Melting.

    I’ll be off to confession now.

  46. Tomas says:

    I betcha Cardinal Mahony would love Sister Sandra’s “call to arms.” Though he’d probably add that he was “mystified” by the reasons behind the Apostolic Visitation. “We shall overcome…..” “Two, four, six, eight, investigators are just reprobates!” etc. etc. etc.

  47. Henry Edwards says:

    A bit of googling reveals that Sister Sandra Schneider “Sister Sandra ministers as Professor Emerita at the Catholic Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in California”. (Looks like at least two birds available for one stone there.) And her photo in habit (?) at

    suggests that a picture may sometimes be worth a few dozen words.

  48. TNCath says:

    Sister Sandra is a perfect example of why we need the apostolic visitation in the first place. I hope Mother Clare, Sister Eva-Marie, and Cardinal Rode’ are reading!

  49. Charivari Rob says:

    Father Z. – “Since I probably don’t do enough penance in life, stuff like this make me wish that I were one of the “visitors”.”

    Would you conclude the visitation by burning sage?

  50. Charivari: Well.. fire would probably be involved in some way.

  51. vincentius says:

    I suspect the purpose of these visits the to show the orthodox orders that they are supported and that the rug won’t be pulled out from them as it was in the ’70s. This is vital to build the younger orders.

  52. depeccatoradvitam says:

    There is a transcript of the opening announcement made at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Wash DC. by Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM (Am. Province of Sisters of the Martyr Saint George). It can be found here:

    A key excerpt is that the site was chosen as its “Hall of American Saints” memorializes… “several women religious who have contributed greatly to the welfare of the Church and society in this country: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Francis Xavier Cabrini, Katharine Drexel, Rose Philippine Duchesne, and the newest American saint, Mother Théodore Guérin.”

    and her comment on this is:
    “These saintly women represent and inspire hundreds of thousands of courageous and generous Catholic sisters who, since before our country was founded, have worked long hours and sacrificed home and personal comfort to build an amazing infrastructure of the faith which endures to this day. As such, they are pillars of faith not only for their religious congregations but for the entire Church and society.” (my emphases)

  53. Sad! It’s the only word that comes to mind. When we were in the seminary and they had some crazy ideas that belittled our Faith, we were considered rigid. What happened to all the openness, caring and sharing that was pushed in the past. I think the “good” Sister had better not be so “rigid”!

  54. Amy P. says:

    This is the twilight of the age of aquarius… the age of aquarius… aquarius

    That was amusing… :)

    This, sadly, isn\’t confined to this group. I used to work with Sisters from a different order who feel pretty much the same way about things.

    Maybe I\’m naive, or maybe it\’s because I take the Church\’s teachings seriously and believe – for better or worse – various denominations have the right to believe what they want and practice accordingly, and that if you don\’t like Catholicism, there are other denominations out there who will indulge you, but learning about their open dissent was disturbing and, yes, very heartbreaking.

    One Sister, who I worked closely with and respect…perhaps \”respected\” is the better term…was and still is trying to convince me that the Church is wrong, I need to modernize my thinking, etc.

    She lives near me, and calls wanting to go to lunch often to continue this conversation. Part of me doesn\’t wnat to, but part of me really wants to get it over with.

    It\’s just sad.

  55. Fulltext says:

    It seems that the complete letter has been removed from the NCReporter website (404 error).

    You can still read it here:

  56. Amy P. says:


    The link says it all…”The church we want.”

    Not what God wants. Not what Christ established. Not what 2,000 of teaching have held constant on earth.

    No. “The church WE want.”

  57. j says:

    The things she apparently is most concerned about “hiding” from the investigators are..

    “We are ministerial Religious. Ministry is integral to our identity and vocation. It arises from our baptism specified by profession, discerned with our Congregational leadership [priestesshood?] and effected according to the charism of our Congregation, not by delegation from the hierarchy.”

    “The big difference is that they [orthodox Religious] read Perfectae Caritatis and did what it asked: [and we didn’t] We read Perfectae Caritatis through the lenses [Spirit of PC?] of Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium and we were called [?] out of the monastic/apostolic mode and into the world that Gaudium et Spes declared the Church was embracing after centuries of world rejection [?].”

    “So, let’s be what we are: Religious who are not cloistered and ministers who are not ordained.”

    … the clarion call against the possibility of truthful self-examination, and the possibility of correction.

  58. Sally :-) says:

    Dear Fr Z,
    Whatever happened to Holy Obedience which I presume
    all of these women professed(?!), and humility which would demand that one
    obeys even if you are right in holding a particular opinion…. and do these
    women really have a genuine spousal relationship with the Lord. I suspect that
    that went right about the time their prayer time went west with the new age
    stuff. Do they even know Him? How can they be preaching the Gospel?…
    Most of them are just asking the Church to ‘rubber stamp’ their opinions
    instead of being obediant to all the Church teaches and holds to be true ie
    the real Gospel.
    Don’t start me on the women priest thing!!!
    Regards Sally :-)

  59. Paul Quist says:

    Sr. Schneiders was the keynote speaker for the 1994 Anthony Jordan Lectures, here in Edmonton at Newman Theological College. Subsequently her diatribe was published under the title “Beyond Patching.”

    To give you the gist, here are a couple excerpts:

    “…the issue of feminist spirituality is for most Catholic women whose consciousness has been raised a much more serious issue than questions of institutional reform. It raises questions of whether the of the Judeo-Christian tradition can be God for a self-respecting woman; whether Jesus is a savior or an oppressor of women; whether sacraments can be experienced as symbolic encounters with God or only as the sacred ritualization of male domination; whether one can find oneself as a person and grow healthily in a community in which one’s personhood and Christianity will never be fully recognized. The agony of the Catholic who is a feminist is experienced primarily in the area of spirituality.” 94.

    “If the real life energy of the church is diverted into the swelling torrent of feminist spirituality, the patriarchal institution will soon be a dried up river bed, an arid trace of a lifeform that refused to change and so remains as a more or less interesting crack in the surface of history. Like other lifeforms that could not change, the patriarchal church will become an interesting historical fossil while the real church moves into the future as a discipleship of equals” (p.108-109)

    Now you know.
    Pray for the visitation!

  60. irishgirl says:

    Ooooo, Fr. Z-I wish you were among the ‘visitors’! You’d tell ’em a thing or two!

  61. Jane says:

    IHM = I Hate Magisterium ??

  62. ckdexterhaven says:

    Henry Edwards, thanks for the link to the photo. Is there anything more obvious than a (middle aged) nun not wearing a habit?

  63. Rachel says:

    What do you do when you have cancer? What do you do when termites are infesting your house? Do you allow the cancer to spread? Do you allow the termites to breed? NO! You undergo painful cancer treatments to get rid of the cancer and you call a pest exterminator to get rid of the termites. These “religious” are not Catholic anymore. They haven’t been for some time. They continue to poison minds with their teachings. They need to be shut down and excommunicated for their own good and the good of the Church. This silliness has been going on toooo long. We have a similiar order here in Florida. They used to teach kids but the schools all shut down due to lack of funding. Now..they hold the same silly kind of retreats (eco spirituality, etc). They are called the Sisters of st. Joseph. All of them are in their late 60’s to 70’s. They wear suits and lapel pins. None of them that I know of are orthodox :(.

  64. tecumseh says:

    Thank goodness General Schwarzkopf didn’t take the veil. I’m sure he would not advocate meeting in the parlour. At Cannae, Hannibal used his left and right flanks to devastating effect, this would suggest that “Sister Norma” would hold in the parlour if forced to, but swing in from the kitchen, and then mount another attack from the pantry. Risky, certainly, but if co-ordinated with offshore invasions from the fish pond, like General MacArthur did in Korea then we could foresee a continuation of the decline once the “nasty men” have been put to the sword. So non-violence may not be the best strategy Sister.

  65. Bos Mutissimus says:

    Sister was right about one thing: “We [IHM & other nuns] are really no longer ‘Congregations dedicated to works of the apostolate’ – that is, monastic communities whose members ‘go out” to do institutionalized works basically assigned by the hierarchy [read: ‘evil-evil’] as an extension of their agendas, e.g., in Catholic schools and hospitals, etc. . . .” At least she’s honest enough to admit they’re in dissent, though she would undoubtedly believe it were for a “higher, nobler” purpose in “fulfilling the work of the People of God and bringing about the Kingdom ….”

  66. Bede says:

    But we can receive them, politely and kindly, for what they are, uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house.

    I cannot help but wonder how many of these sisters observe Rule of Saint Benedict?

    Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because He will say: “I was a stranger and you took Me in” (Mt 25:35). And let due honor be shown to all, especially to those “of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10) and to wayfarers. (Chapter LIII)

    not to mention…

    The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. (Chapter V)

  67. Ted Krasnicki says:

    What I find most worrisome is the deep and passionate split in the American Church today. If one goes to the NCR article above and reads the comments and compares these to the ones found in this and other orthodox Catholic blogs, one is struck about how deeply divided the Church is, perhaps mirroring the deep divison of modern Western society itself. Schism is a real possibility I fear, and I do not mean the SSPX. I think Abp Chaput is quite correct in pointing out the mess that has been made in Catholic catechetics over the past 40 years and we now see the fruits, or, rather, lack of them. Much of the division is the result of not understanding Catholic teaching. Let us pray even more fervently for the Holy Father.

  68. QC says:

    If they aren’t part of the apostolate and they don’t work in schools and hospitals, what do they do? Sounds to me like they are just a bunch of moochers.

  69. Gloria says:

    The IHMs were shocking us when I was in college in Los Angeles in the early 1950s. The blessed SJCs (St. Joseph of Carondelet) were holding fast. Sadly, they also have become wanderers in the morass of modernization. When “Sister” says they are “no longer congregations dedicated to works of the apostolate,” that says it all.

  70. Bro. Aloysius Mary says:

    I do not wish to be contentious with Julie who insists that only those in Holy Orders are not considered laity. I would appreciate being directed to the ecclesiastical document/s that would substantiate this assertion. Such may indeed exist but are unknown to me. It seems to me that a liturgical rite presided over by a bishop in which, by vow, one consecrates his or her life to the heroic observance of the evangelical virtues (a life of poverty, chastity and obedience) would establish a reasonable demarcation line between laity and religious. Of him (or her) to whom much is given (grace of personal consecration) much will be demanded (fidelity). There may still be no official differentiation between these consecrated religious and those who live in the world but that would surprise me and I would like to know the true case. God bless you Julie and all who see this.

  71. therese b says:

    \”So let’s be honest but reserved, supply no ammunition that can be aimed at us, be non-violent even in the face of violence,\”


    Who is she expecting on this visitation – Cardinal Fang? The Albino Monk. She has been watching too many R rated films I think…..

  72. Kevin says:

    I have one question for Sister: how are you doing on vocations?

    By their fruits ye shall know them…

  73. Fr. Jerome says:

    May I suggest an alternative title for the above newspaper article?

    “Visitation Reveals Upsurge of Militant Unitarian Fundamentalism Among U.S. Women Religious”

  74. Charlotte says:

    I hope Rome makes it a point to visit this group of religious nuns:

  75. Riverside says:

    At this point I would think that the visitors, welcome or unwelcome, should not waste their time. By the time that the visits are over and the report is printed more than 15,000 more women religious will have died, mostly in Scheider-esque orders. Perhaps Mother Mary Clare should only visit real orders to strengthen them with her counsel as they grow…not die.

  76. a different Julie says:

    Br Aloysius Mary,

    Everyone I know uses two distinctions:


    A Dominican father is a religious and a cleric; a diocesan priest is a cleric but not a religious; a Benedictine nun a religious and a laic; I am a secular laywoman.

    Or something like that.

    ‘…the holy council decrees that henceforth no *secular cleric*, though otherwise qualified as regards morals, knowledge and age, shall be promoted to sacred orders unless it be first legitimately established that he is in peaceful possession of an ecclesiastical benefice sufficient for a decent livelihood…’
    Trent, Session XXI, Decree Concerning Reform Ch III

    However the term does have an ‘extended’ meaning:

  77. “Go theach all nations….” That was the mandate given by Christ to His Church and as long as we are doing that; teaching the Good News, we are assured of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Once we start teaching a different Gospel we start to die, that is what has happened to all these great Orders. See how the Friars of the Renewal are growing! And all the priests and nuns who are faithful to Christ and the Church He founded are like magnats for the young. Wake up liberals – smell the sulphur and get with the programme! – Blessings – Rene

  78. Fr. Angel says:

    Why are so many nuns good at calling the rest of the Church to “accountability” and “transparency” but unwilling to receive a visitation and give accountability to the rest of the Church?

    A visitation is a good opportunity to showcase the good which the congregation is doing for the rest of the Church, for evangelization, and for the renewal of Catholic culture.

    On the other hand, if the congregation has become ineffective and useless, is basically mooching off the rest of the Church for support and affirmation but of no consequence for real “Catholic Action”, I would be threatened also.

    And Bede’s quote from St. Benedict is such a stark contrast to referring to visitors as uninvited and unwelcome. Really, we are dealing with New Age, alinskyite convalescent homes of angry women who long ago ceased to have any communion with the Catholic church.

  79. Luigi says:

    Fr. Philip, OP: But I know the sisters well enough to know that nothing is going to move them, nothing is going to change them.

    I trust you are right, Fr. My sense is that part of the mission is not so much to change the renegades as it is to protect those who are at danger of being misled by their influence. How this will play out I don’t know, but the end result will hopefully be that those who refuse to uphold Catholic doctrine will be in some severed from the Church.

    Bro. Aloysius Mary,

    Lumen Gentium deals with the matter of Religious.

    “From the point of view of the divine and hierarchical structure of the Church, the religious state of life is not an intermediate state between the clerical and lay states. But, rather, the faithful of Christ are called by God from both these states of life so that they might enjoy this particular gift in the life of the Church and thus each in one’s own way, may be of some advantage to the salvific mission of the Church.” LG 43

    Religious, obviously, can be both laity and clergy.

  80. Fr. James Weldon says:

    Three faithful IHM sisters left California and came to Wichita in the 1970’s They started the IHM community in Wichita. Our Wichita IHM’s are great and faithful to the magisterium. We are very blessed to have them.

  81. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, were originally one congregation. As they grew, they split into three separate congregations: Monroe, MI, Philadelphia, PA, and Scranton, PA. Though the come from the same roots, they are three separate and distinct congregations, each with it’s own rule, motherhouse, and superior general (or whatever terms the “modern” nun uses these days). Sr. Schneiders is a member of the Monroe, MI group. I have met several and they are a disgrace to their founder (a Redemptorist) and to the Church. They have abandoned their charism and any sembelance of the religious life. The Philadelphia group is a bit better. The most traditional of the three is the Scranton group who remained true to their charism and continue to wear the habit, albeit modified. There are other congregations of sisters who are designated by the initials I.H.M. who are in no way affiliated with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    It seems very clear from Sandra Schneiders remarks that she is very much afraid of the visitation. If there is honesty and fidelity there is nothing to fear from any visitation. This goes for any community of men, women, or seminary. So, sisters, why are you afraid?

  82. Michelle says:

    The Philadelphia IHM’s wear their habits and are far more than a “bit better”.

  83. medieval_peasant says:

    I think all of this indicates that these religious groups that have dissented from the Church know why their religious congregations are failing. You would have to be unable to add one plus one to not be able to see the difference between thriving orthodox religious sisters such as the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist and groups like those dissident orders without vocations. Even the sisters that are a part of the Institute of Christ the King are thriving despite the fact that they seem to have a small group. When you consider the number of incoming vocations then you can determine the growth rate.

    It is very interesting to see how the dissident groups seem to be “rotting away” on the ground near the tree they have separated themselves from. God blesses faithfulness, and those who are unfaithful to their vocation are consumed by their own mistakes. We must pray that religious like Sister Sandra M. Schneiders may open their eyes and see the example and success of thriving orders. We must pray that they have a change of heart.

    Please, let us not just post comments and observe all the bad things that go on in the Church. Let us pray for these people. They are people just like you and me. They are people with souls just like you and me. God loves them infinitely and wills their salvation.

  84. Michael Maedoc says:

    What is her parlor like? I imagine its not behind the screen. Its difficult when you’re playing the victim to realize when you are uncharitable. This might be why liberals are so cruel.

  85. supertradmom says:

    I am sorry, but I do not understand from where the dear sisters get their paranoia and strange perspective. I think these types of sisters live in a bubble world of their own making-a liberal American church with 1970s feminist principles, which are not only out-dated, but based on false dichotomies, such as the hatred of patriarchies, hatred of men, and misunderstanding of the call of religious to be “signs of contradiction” to the world.

  86. peregrinus says:

    I agree with you Michael. During my tenure at an American University, my friends and I have come to the conclusion that the so-called ‘liberals’ are generally the most uncharitable and dishonest lot: they pretend to be nice, hiding their anger and jealousy behind a cloak of innocence, but when provoked, they put the so-called ‘conservatives’ to shame.

    If I may be bold, they are today’s white-washed tombs.

  87. Richard A says:

    Paul Stokell: when my brother was at St. John’s Seminary in Plymouth, MI (eventually shut down as a result of the aforementioned visitation) where some classes were taught by IHM “nuns”, many of the students there decided that IHM stood for “I Hate Men”.

  88. Michelle et omnia,

    I should have said that the Scranton group is a bit better and the Philadelphia group is the most traditional. My apologies for the mis-information and any confusion I may have caused.

  89. Anna says:

    If she thinks this visitation qualifies as “violence,” perhaps she should pay a bit more attention to the world around her and spend some time in prayer for the faithful sisters who are experiencing real violence in places like Orissa, India; Nigeria; and Uganda. Her language is so over-the-top and so trivializing to the real martyrdom many are undergoing today.

  90. Stacie says:

    I was taught by her sister, a Dominican, in college. She was a very nice woman, enamored by her sister who was then still in her habit and a bit of a ‘star’ theologian. I was, gratefully and gracefully(not my own merit) not so impressed. I never quite embraced the ‘study of the historical minimum of the life of Jesus’. It didn’t appear to help with a real relationship with Him but only to get in the way. How sad she sounds still. I will keep her in my prayers.

  91. Barbara says:

    I hope these visitors visit the Benedictine order in Idaho. They have long not lived by the rules of the order.
    They used to teach in the Catholic grade schools now they dress in the latest fashion and wear bikini’s while bike riding in the park, that was an unpleasant eyeful.
    This order has become so liberal all of the surrounding diocese’s do not even recognize it as a legitimate order since the 1970’s.

    I do know there are or used to be three separate orders of the IHM. One of them used to teach school here in Idaho. Until their membership was to small to support being so far from Pennsylvania, where their mother house was. They were very well received by the entire community Catholic and non Catholic.

    I do know if any of my daughters wanted to become a nun I would not encourage her to join any of the orders in Idaho. I would send her to the Gray Nuns/ Sister of Charity in Canada. I have several cousins in the order and they adhere to the standards of the church.

    The nun’s who profess non Catholic views should be treated like any other pro abortion Catholic and be excommunicated. They should be removed from the religious affiliation and made to support themselves. We pro Vatican Catholics should not support them with our donations.

  92. S. Mary says:

    I would just like to second that each IHM congregation is completely seperate from the others, in government especially. At this point they are joined only by a common history. Each community, Immaculata, Scranton, and Monroe should be looked at independently of one another. It would be a shame if faithful sisters were to recieve a reputation that they do not deserve because someone did not distinguish what community they were speaking about. I say this with charity and gratitude for the efforts made here to sort out this confusion.

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