Not so thankful for this, I’m afraid…

There is an article in the ultra-dissenting weekly National Catholic Fishwrap… err…  Reporter which says that many congregations of women religion in the USA are simply not complying with the Holy See’s Apostolic Visitation of their communities.

This summation of the issue came from a kind reader who did some of the lifting in parsing the NCR article:

According to the article, the deadline to provide written responses has passed.  Many of the congregations have not responded to the questions but instead merely sent copies of their congregations’ constitutions. [I suspect the Congregation already had them.]  The article, quoting an anonymous "informed source", states further that "only about one percent answered, as directed, most or all of the questions"
One woman religious quoted in the article called the inquiry "an unjust affront to women religious".  I think the money quote, which displays a radical feminist mindset of some women religious, is as follows:

All along, said one woman religious, the challenge has been to respond to the Vatican in a way that breaks a cycle of violence. [ROFL!] She said that the women religious communities have attempted to respond by using a language "devoid of the violence" they found in the Vatican questionnaire and within the wider study. She characterized the congregation responses as "creative and affirming," and part of an effort to set a positive example in "nonviolent resistance."

"On the one hand we didn’t want to roll over and play dead," she said. "So the question was, "How do you step outside a violent framework and do something new?’ That was the challenge that emerged." One congregation, she said, cited a U.S. bishops’ statement concerning domestic abuse in its response letter to Millea. "The point is, there have to be more than two choices: Take the abuse and offer it up, or kill the abuser."

Cycle of violence?  Kill the abuser?  While I do not doubt that answering questions can be tedious, it is beyond the pale to equate answering questions with physical violence. 
Usually, the term "cafeteria catholic" is used to describe certain members of the laity.  In the sense that some women religious think they can respond to only part or none of an official Vatican inquiry, I think the term rightly applies to such religious as well.  Their actions are insubordinate as well.

What is this?  Gandhi v The British Empire?
So… we have reason #7356485 for why the Visitation was necessary.

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  1. These communities are providing the nails to close their coffins, I’m afraid.
    “Civil disobedience” does not work in the Church, especially in an area of such importance as the good of apostolic women religious. And I feel for the faithful sisters, many of them elderly, that are NOT a part of this craziness.
    This is sad, very sad. They are shooting themselves in both feet. (Too many metaphors??)

  2. Hamburglar says:

    I would like to see a copy of the questionnaire. Any way we can get our hands on one?

  3. chironomo says:

    Shut ’em all down…. unless of course they cooperate!

  4. Nan says:

    I guess we know now that they’re really not Catholic Religious Sisters.

  5. james says:

    I smell apostasy.

    Is this not rooted in the cast of characters of Vatican II (Kung, Rahner, and
    the lot) who opened the doors and windows of our Holy Church to such apostatic
    seepage? The Church must really take a very deep look at the dark doings of
    the Second Vatican Council. It caused more division and harm than good, but then
    again, I am preaching to this site.

    I, too, feel for the faithful sisters in these orders. That said, their
    percentage-to-the-whole appears small. What I am really beginning to feel
    after many years of reading and listening to these types of dissenters is
    that some may have deliberately joined the ranks of the religous to infect the
    Mystical Body. And for this type of apostasy, there is of course no sympathy.

  6. Dr. K says:

    Re: Hamburglar

    The questionnaires are available at the visitation Web site:

  7. Clinton says:

    I’m reminded of that recurring trope from the Jerry Springer Show, where a guest, called out on some crazy behavior, responds with
    “Whatevah! Whatevah! I do what I want!”. Sister Pantsuit seems to be slipping into her second adolescence.

    Years ago many of these orders decided that nursing, teaching, and working directly with the poor were menial chores that perpetuated
    the patriarchy and only served to uphold the image of the subservient female. Congregations paid to send sisters to grad school, and
    a plague of liturgists, parish administrators, USCCB bureaucrats and wiccan-catholic ‘theologians’ was born. This crowd looks upon the
    implosion it has wrought upon its own congregations and calls it good. I shudder to think what scenario for the Church would meet
    with the approving gaze of these harpies.

    Mother Clare, who heads the Apostolic Visitation, has to have an appetite for hard work and a strong stomach. I do not envy her.

  8. Athelstan says:

    She characterized the congregation responses as “creative and affirming,”

    Some would characterize them as “passive-aggressive.” And, probably, “disobedient.”

  9. Kimberly says:

    I spent my high school years in an all girl boarding school run by very liberal Franciscan nuns. They were heretical as well as loony, It was horrible.
    The question that keeps coming to mind when I read these type of articles is; What the hell are they afraid of?

  10. Clinton says:

    I’d be interested to hear from women religious concerning the reactions within their congregations regarding the Visitation.
    Do the majority feel as put-upon as the sister in the NCR article? What arrangements have congregations made to work with
    the Visitation? Are there sisters out there who could see reasons why the Visitation would be a good thing? What do women
    religious here in the States hope to see result from the Visitation? Where do sisters see their congregations a generation from now?

  11. Kimberly says:

    Thanks Dr.K for the info. Now I know what they are afraid of. Part A is really nothing more than what a normal person would fill out when applying for a job. Part B, well, now it gets interesting. I especially liked
    “Is your institute moving toward a new form of religious life? If so, how is this new form specifically related to the Church’s and your institute’s understanding of religious life?” and under Liturgy;
    “Describe how you, as a Major Superior, support and encourage your sisters to participate in daily Mass and to receive the Sacrament of Penance frequently.”
    Wish I could read the answers.

  12. Kimberly says:

    Wops, forgot another, the most interesting one,
    “Do your sisters participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy according to approved liturgical norms?”

  13. Seraphic Spouse says:

    This nun’s chat about “violence” is extremely disrespectful to those women and men who experience and have experienced REAL violence, REAL domestic abuse.

  14. EXCHIEF says:

    Questions? Questions? We don’t need to answer no stinking questions! Taking the time to thoughtfully and prayfully complete the questionaire undoubtedly interferes with their, ministry.

  15. KAS says:

    I, as a laywoman, look at the questions I have seen and what strikes me is that I would LOVE to have a visitation on lay women so that I might answer questions like this and have the answers actually read at the Vatican and perhaps even by the Pope.

    These women are totally incomprehensible to me. They ought to be joyful that they get to tell our Holy Father what they think and believe.

    I mean, it seems very lacking in thankfulness to complain when given special attention.

  16. Norah says:

    This is indeed Ghandi vs the British Empire and a clever tactic it is too. I wonder what the visitation team will do now, I would imagine that they didn’t forsee this? First it was “receive them in the parlour” as uninvited guests and now it is passive resistance to the questionaire. The canon lawyers who have advised these women have excelled themselves.

  17. Nan says:

    Remind me again, how did these women get forced into positions subservient to men? That’s never clear to me.

  18. Traductora says:

    I live across the street from an order of wonderful women who drank the Kool-Aid and killed their order. They’re not radical feminists or anything even remotely like that, but they abandoned their charism (teaching), abandoned their community life, and went to a strange “egalitarian” rotating authority system which means that nobody could ever be in charge long enough to reform them.

    I’d doubt that they opposed the Pope, although they may have felt the need to defend some lousy decisions they made 30 years ago and may have been a little hostile. I don’t know. I do pray for them, though, because while most of them have left, the ones who have remained are very sincere – and totally at sea. I think the US is probably covered with orders like this, and we shouldn’t treat them too harshly because in many cases, they’re just floating down the creek without a paddle and don’t know how to get one.

  19. wanda says:

    Good grief. Violence? Wow. Paranoia? I think that only a little nervousness would be warranted if all was as it should be. Shrieking about violence sounds way too defensive.
    Language un-called for.

  20. ipadre says:

    Will we see some communities abolished? If they stray from the chrism of their founder and resist the authority of Holy Mother Church, are they still to be considered Catholic institutions? How sad it would be, but maybe God’s mission has been fulfilled and the charism of some of these older communities is dead.

    God is indeed raising up many new communities. Women who live the evangelical counsels with joy. They radiate with love and zeal for their vocations. They have a deep fidelity to their Groom, and His Holy Church. All of this is in big contrast to (some, not all) mean spirited, angry old women, who seem to despise everything they are called to represent.

    If nothing comes of the Apostolic Visitation, many of the older communities will just die off, without the intervention of Rome and new ones will continue to spring up. Some, I am sure have good will and desire to look at their lives with the Holy See. They may be renewed. As for the ultimate out come, only time will tell!

  21. AngelineOH says:

    ipadre has made an interesting observation: “maybe God’s mission has been fulfilled and the charism of some of these older communities is dead”. This may be the last chance these orders have to reform and survive.

    The anger and ill will shown by those who are resisting the Visitation are a huge red flag that there is much they fear, and with good reason if the Vatican follows through.

  22. C. says:

    The comments section on that NCR article is astonishingly audacious in its rejection of the Church–astonishing even for NCR. Some of them even signed their vile posts with real names. I can’t believe these people still consider themselves Catholic.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m probably going to get myself flamed here, but…..

    What do sisters do nowdays anyway? I know they used to teach school, nurse people back to health in hospitals and care for the poor, but most of them don’t do that anymore. A minority of them are engaged in comtemplative orders, and I’m assuming a few still do that, but not many.

    But catholic schools are manned by laypeople (b/c the sisters decline to do it), hospitals are manned by laypeople (b/c the sisters decline to do it), and the poor are cared for by the government. We do need the ones praying 24/7, IF that’s what they’re really doing. But why do we need the others? I’m serious. What is the point of sisters if they don’t do the basic service that needs to be done? Surely, we don’t keep them around just to be keeping them around, do we?

  24. LaudemGloriae says:

    It’s absurd. Even my lay order has regular questionnaires and visitations followed by review and sometimes correction. Feathers get ruffled in some communities that have veered off the rails. Some people leave. This is a healthy thing. I really can’t understand why they are taking it as such a personal affront. If there are so convinced and so pleased with the modern direction they have taken, why are they not eager to show it off?

  25. Random Friar says:

    Heavens. Now, really. How many of the recently ordained and even seminary professors have you seen sacked or had any violence done to them by the LAST visitation?

    If there is any violence and abuse, it’s what many of their “leadership teams” have done to their more faithful sisters. There is some true emotional and psychological abuse there.

  26. Jaybirdnbham says:

    LaudemGloriae: very true. As a secular Carmelite myself, I’ve seen great good come from the visitations and guidance of the Provincial Council. And the Prov. Counc. in turn is overseen by those higher up, all the way to Rome. It’s good, necessary, and is part of what it means to be Roman Catholic.

    If these sisters rebel so much at the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church, then they might as well follow Martin Luther and form their own separate religion, because they don’t sound very Catholic at this point.

  27. TKS says:

    The great virtues of humility and obedience to the Church seem to be lacking.

  28. irishgirl says:

    Wow-nasty stuff by these so-called ‘sisters’!

    Give me the good and faithful Orders like the Nashville and Ann Arbor Dominicans, Mother Angelica’s Poor Clares, the Discalced Carmelites of Valpariso [sp?] in Nebraska, and the Servants of the Lord/Virgin of Matara any day! May they flourish!

  29. kbf says:

    I had to have someone translate bits of that:

    “self-defining religious agents” = nun.
    I don’t know about you, but it cunjours up images of a Dan Brown novel with albino assasin mother superiors.

    “Vatican II took us out of the ghettos and into ecology, feminism and justice in the world”
    Pity it didn’t also find time to put them in chapels every so often.

    “as directed by the gospels and by the Second Vatican Council,”
    I didn’t realise that the gospels and the documents of a council, however ecumenical, had parity. But there you go.

    If normal people started talking in those terms we’d get locked up as barking mad, surely?

  30. Melania says:

    In my area, we do have our contemplatives, thank heaven, but otherwise religious sisters of any stripe are pretty rare. I’ve met exactly four in the last 10 years. None of them introduce themselves as “sister.” None of them wear anything that would distinguish them from the rest of the population. One works as a community organizer for the Saul Alinsky formed Industrial Areas Foundation. One worked, until her retirement, for the County Public Health Department. One teaches “Spirituality” at the local Presbyterian Seminary and one is an artist who puts on shows of her vaguely spiritual photographs and artistic creations.

  31. Rob Cartusciello says:

    The abuse I recall was the years of emotion abuse from certain religious while in formation. There was a great deal of name-calling, harsh labeling and nasty invectives about the “macho church” while we men religious were just trying to get by in a world that doesn’t value poverty, chastity or obedience.

    When those same religious were the people who did evaluations that affected your chances for ordination, THAT was abuse.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    Random friar,
    You are correct. The real abuse has happened within the orders when orthodox sisters have been treated very badly by others (progressives) in political control. We have an instance of that near where I live. The order has retreat accommodations and is frequently used by the local diocese as a place for meetings. Going over there at lunchtime is an eye-opener. There are two distinct groups of sisters. A little conversation reveals the depth of the problem. Up until just a couple of years ago, there were two distinct governing bodies and everything (that could be) was arbitrated between those two. Now the house, which was previously a motherhouse, has joined with a half-dozen or so others in a larger confederation, and the progressives are in control of the whole shebang. Pity the orthodox sisters now. This is not an uncommon occurrence.

    You said, “If these sisters rebel so much at the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church, then they might as well follow Martin Luther and form their own separate religion, because they don’t sound very Catholic at this point.”
    They have, but they don’t want (yet) to give up the title Catholic. As one prominent female dissident religious famously remarked, “The church has the copy machines.” WHEN they care whether they look Catholic or not, this is the major reason.

  33. frival says:

    This reminds me of the old adage, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” *sigh*

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    You said, “If normal people started talking in those terms we’d get locked up as barking mad, surely?” Normal Catholic people, yes. Average American progressives, no. Because that’s what many of these sisters really are. The old stereotype has protected them for a long time, but it’s just a stereotype for many sisters–one they regard with distaste, yet hide behind. People need to know that.

    Melania, very typical. Seeing a sister, even in church now, even in polyester, is very rare. Progressive sisters around here sometimes live outside the community and hold all kinds of other jobs, drive their own cars, etc. I don’t know if they’re required to attend church in a particular place or not. One doesn’t see them around.

    That situation still exists in some dioceses. For years, it was common for dioceses to have a “ministry formation program,” through which all seminary candidates had to pass before they attended the seminary. Laypeople of a certain type were also invited to attend the MFP. Proto-seminarians were weeded out there for “rigidity” and orthodoxy. Those who were not passive and progressive were rejected by these means.
    In the diocese where I live, we had a fairly prominent gate-keeper sister, the author of several books. She’s gone now. The number of men we have at the seminary has quintupled as a result.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    Elaborate, please, frival.

  36. thefeds says:

    I know that I am not the first to suggest this, but I must voice it. If these orders don’t cooperate, then they should be suppressed at once!

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    Agreed. And if they aren’t, the sensible thing for us to do is to terminate our financial support.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    Of the orders, that is, by direct or indirect means. Know where your donations go.

  39. JosephMary says:

    Yes, if the ‘orders’ are disobedient and flagrantly so (many have been for decades) then they should be disbanded. I mean if Regnum Christi comes under attack, what about these women who lead souls astray with their crystals and reiki and so forth. They get paid by the Church! Travesty.

    No longer are there nuns to nurse the sick that I have ever encountered but I have read there was once. There is no longer any religious sisters in my town of 125,000 but there used to be a panted one who worked in the soup kitchen. I myself have been called ‘sister’ when I visit the sick; somehow some folks still expect there to be such ones to carry compassion and the Gospel. There sure needs to be. Souls are dying with no one to evangelize them, no religious person of whom to ask questions and receive proper answers from. I do not know if I will ever understand how so many orders became so corrupt.

    But I visited some sisters in Illinois when my friend was discerning a vocation. Liberal feminists who hated my miraculous medal. But there were holy ones, ostracized ones, still in the background. They would quietly meet in a lower corner to pray the rosary together and some clung to a part or form of the habit although the others would rather die than wear one. One Benedictine sister I do know said she would leave the order if she had to put on a habit. In reality, she has. She lives in an apartment with new clothes and is totally secular–nothing to show she is a bride of Christ.

    SO SAD. The disobedience needs to be disciplined, as any parent would do for a disobedient child.

  40. markmcallister says:

    Does anyone know what discipline can be brought against the uncooperative orders, either by their local bishops, the USCCB or Rome? What levers do the Church authorities have to pry open these disobedient groups so that a proper assessment can be made?

  41. markmcallister: If a community of apostolic women religious is of diocesan rite, the Bishop can deal with them as their Supreme Moderator.
    If a community of apostolic women religious is of pontifical rite (subject to Rome) the Congregation of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life deal with this vis-a-vis the Holy Father.
    Unfortunately, both Rome and the local bishops are not interested in dealing with the apostolic women religious in their wayward treks outside of orthodoxy and ortho-praxy (correct teaching and correct observance).
    It is an unfortunate fact of previous history that the Congregation in charge of apostolic women religious, especially in the United States (but elsewhere, as well) has allowed the acceptance of their Constitutions and religious practice that are in variance with universal law (habit, common life, common prayer, etc.) for whatever reason. Now the chickens have come home to roost, so to speak. And the shrieks from hell ensue when legitimate authority asks some questions and demands some accountability.
    Some of this is the fault of the Roman authorities, I must admit, from my knowledge of the history of all of this.
    But these present superiors and others in charge of the communities that are defying Rome are absolutely in direct disobedience…religious communities exist because of the Church’s approval; not the other way around. They are in direct violation of the spirit and law of religious obedience and should be sanctioned. This is an unconscionable scandal.

  42. Wanderer says:

    The National Catholic reporter maybe shooting themselves in the foot.

    Their earlier reporting of the woman’s ordination movement claimed that it was supported by a vast underground of the faithful. The reality is that the movement is supported by a very small number of activists (usually the participants).

    Today, the NCR claims that almost all congregations (99%) have ignored the visitation. This does not seem accurate for the following reasons:
    -The visitation includes CMSWR congregations. They are not ignoring it. Already, the NCR’s numbers claims cannot be mathematically accurate.
    -The abortion “sister’s” congregation took by their standards, relatively strong action against her. They had known about her actions for years and did nothing in the past. Their response is probably due to the visitation. If these ultra progressive sisters are ignoring the visitation, why change past policy on the “sister”?

    In the end, the NCR appears to be broadcasting their own propaganda statements and internal desires as factual “news”.

  43. markmcallister says:

    Thank you, nazareth priest, that is most helpful. I find it frustrating that discipline is so lax amongst the clergy, with little enforcement from local or Vatican authorities. In the recent priestly sexual abuse scandals it seemed to me that many of the bishops were willfully blind or even enablers of these predators, yet Rome seemed to take little if any action against them. The liberal nuns and the Jesuits (at least many of them) seemingly have free rein to defy Church teaching and authority. How can the Church preserve and increase her strength for the ongoing struggles against atheism, secularism, and Islam if she can’t count on her clergy. Very distressing.

  44. markmcallister: You ask the right questions.
    I think there is a beginning of a turnaround amongst the clergy; I have even seen signs of it with those I would have considered “liberal” or “dissenting”. It is very distressing, as you say.
    But there is a change with Pope Benedict XVI in many circles. Some are more arrogant and nasty and dissident than ever. But others are beginning to have a change of heart or new courage. We must pray, pray, pray and do penance for the clergy and religious…our life here is based upon this, and so, I guess I am encouraged when I see little glimmers of hope among them and the great faith and love of the laity as expressed here. Blessings and prayers!

  45. markmcallister says:

    nazareth priest, i agree that the bishops are now showing some real backbone after being almost completely supine for many years. And I hear good things about the young priests coming out of seminary and in formation. I pray that these trends don’t get reversed, but continue to strengthen as we will need many more strong priests, brothers and sisters to meet the challenges ahead. Pope Benedict has been a wonderful guide and example, and I pray he’s with us for many more years. Blessings and prayers to you too.

  46. Hidden One says:

    Ah, the excommunicandi strike again.

  47. TNCath says:


    The tragedy of this report is that it only makes these Catholic religious orders look even more ridiculous than they already are. Moreover, the souls of these women who once had a vocation are at stake. The futile attempt of these orders to “not cooperate” or “resist” the questionnaire is as logical as a kid who is mad at his parents and locks himself in his bedroom and refuses to come out. There is nothing that is going to come our of this Apostolic Visitation that we don’t already know. The only good that will come from this is that the Church will now officially confirm what many have been saying for years: the orders that are remaining faithful to the Church and observing the essential elements of religious life are growing and will continue do so. Those that aren’t WILL (not might, or could) die.

    The real victims in this entire ordeal are those old sisters who never abandoned either the traditional habit or some modified form of it (depending on what they could get away with) and worked quietly, and have lived out their vocations with fidelity and obedience. Long retired now, they attend Mass in the chapels of their motherhouses (when it is available), many of whom are on walkers or in wheelchairs, but still have that “spark” of love for Christ and His Church. None of them ever thought in a million years that their lives would end this way, thanks to the diabolical shenanigans of their relativistic dictatorial superiors who hijacked their communities into buying into this pseudo-religious “renewal” of religious life.

    Also, don’t count out some of those sisters who have externally gone along with the changes their orders made after Vatican II regarding dress but do not buy into what their order is saying or doing and yet would go back to a habit tomorrow if it weren’t for the horrendous persecution they would endure from their fellow sisters. Too old to leave their orders due to financial dependence, they too suffer in silence.

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