Notes on Sr. Chittister’s talk to LCWR, and then there is a Presbyterian

As you know, the National Catholic Reporter has chosen to flood their paper and website with all manner of articles which dissent from the clear teaching of the Church, especially concerning the ordination of women.

I have of late drilled into articles by Sr. Theresa Kane and Rosemary Radford Reuther.

Now I see that that doyenne of dissent Sr. Joan Chittister, who still hasn’t commented on why the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has straight-armed SNAP in their attempts at dialogue, has a talk published in NCR. 

I am not going to bother drilling into Sr. Joan’s essay for two reasons.  First, she doesn’t say anything new.  Second, the old things she says are not especially well expressed. You will find all the bizarre rereading of Scripture and self-righteousness you have come to expect, but expressed in an even more turgid manner than usual.  She simply and openly calls on these nuns to defy the Church…. yawn.

But here are a few things you might think about when you look at her talk to the LCWR for yourselves.

In her talk, Sr. Joan doesn’t include in her litany of all the good works nuns do in their nunhood:

  • abortion counseling as supporting a woman’s right to choose,
  • active support of pro-choice candidates for political offices,
  • the decline of vocations to their institutes,
  • their self-examination concerning child abuse,
  • and other acts which manifestly set them apart from the Catholic Church.

BTW… is SNAP carrying protest signs outside of where the LCWR is meeting?   Give us a photo. No… there is one already.

Finally, on another note, there is also a article in favor of women’s ordination by a Presbyterian elder.

Ummm… when did Presbyterians think anyone should be ordained a priest?  When did Presbyterians start valuing Mass celebrated by priests?  Does he now believe in the sacrament of penance?

I think he is really concerned about liturgical preaching.  But if he thinks women don’t do things in the Church, he’s poorly informed.

Thanks, however, for the advice.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. torch621 says:

    Chittister is a has been. Her brand of dissent is dying out, Deo gratias.

    And to be brutally honest, I could care less what SNAP does. This is a group that has made a career out of telling people that their priests can’t be trusted (heck, they even wanted glass doors installed on confessionals so priests could be monitored while a child’s confession was taken).

  2. Robert of Rome says:

    To Torch621, the reason that mention of SNAP is important in conjunction with the LCWR is that it is the only group out there focusing attention on sexual abuse of minors committed by women Religious. The mainstream media and the ‘catholic’ media have given the nuns a pass on this issue. Meanwhile, the LCWR and its constituent groups of Sisters has been urging the Church to ordain women to the priesthood, in part, on the grounds that women do not commit such sins.

  3. The “death rattle” of the dissenting Sisters is becoming louder and louder.
    Yes, Fr. Z., no need to comment further on this garbage. Just let it “speak for itself.”
    This is the “renewal” of religious life?

  4. Gail F says:

    What a weird comment from the Presbyterian. (Warning, it mentions puppets during worship as a good thing!).

  5. Tim Ferguson says:

    I’m waiting for the article to be written arguing that the reason there were nuns who abused children is because the nuns were forced into a “patriarchal” system that inhibited the growth of their true feminine characteristics and that really, insofar as women religious were abusers, it’s the fault of the male, celibate priesthood. You know that argument is coming. [That’s the idea. You are clearly reading carefully and thinking before posting!]

  6. Tim F: Absolutely.
    It’s all the “mens’ fault”…esp., celibate, hierarchical “demons”…ugh!
    I am not in any way excusing the awful behavior of many bishops and priests; but the attack upon the Church and the priesthood that goes way beyond the misbehaviour of a few (and even if it’s “global”, the statistics are rather low, and the absolute hysteria is over the top).

  7. TJerome says:

    Sister Chittester and her comrades tried and failed. No young women are buying their product. You wonder if that even bothers them. In contrast, young women are buying the product of traditonal orders like the Dominicans in Nashville, to name just one. Yes, Sister Chittester, like Sister Kane, are old has-beens, so yesterday.

  8. NewmanSTL says:

    Notice that the article by Elder Tammeus is purely functional in its evaluation (i.e., “I’ve known some very nice, caring female pastors”). In other words, there’s no concern for tradition: what Christ willed for his Church and what the Church has consistently practiced in accordance with Our Lord’s will. As Fr. Z points out, Presbyterians have never had priests, b/c they have never been interested in offering a Eucharistic sacrifice to God–just, a “sacrifice of praise.” Why would Catholics ever take advice about ordination from a member of a sect who not only lacks a priesthood, but has repeatedly manifested hostility to the very concept of priesthood?

  9. chcrix says:

    Joan Chittister, Theresa Kane, Rosemary Radford Reuther. They sound like characters from an old Alan Drury novel:

    “It’s a special type you see in politics Mary Buttner Baffleburg, Lizzie Hanson McWharter, Ann Hooper Bigelow, and — God help us here in California — Esme Harbellow Stryke. The old biddies …”

  10. Archicantor says:

    I’m beginning to get the point, Father, about the NCR’s campaign on this issue. As for Presbyterians, don’t let’s get too hasty in assuming too much knowledge about Presbyterian sacramental theology. They don’t (or historically didn’t) deny the existence of holy orders; they merely argued, with some scriptural and early patristic justification, that presbyters and bishops were originally the same thing. And there is in some strands of Presbyterianism a very “high Calvinist” doctrine of the Eucharist (sacrifice and Real Presence) that takes the role of the (male) celebrating presbyter very seriously. See the excellent essay on women’s ordination by Eric “Anglican Patrimony” Mascall (the section “A Voice from Protestantism”). All this may have no relation to Mr. Tammeus’s beliefs (or the official teachings of the Presbyterian Church USA) — and there is a lot of theological and historical water separating even a “high” Presbyterian minister from a Catholic priest. But to dismiss this article with tired shibboleths (“sacrifice of praise”, etc.) doesn’t do anyone justice.

  11. One thing I just don’t understand is *why* Catholics (religious, politicians, laity) who are clearly, obviously, publicly dissenting against Church teaching and authority permitted to do so year-after-year without any apparent official response.

    The lack of any action sends a signal that these are debatable issues and that it is perfectly OK for faithful Catholics to oppose the Church and plot against her. It brings scandal to the Church in so many ways.

    Seriously, I just don’t get it. For their own good, the good of all other Catholics and the general knowledge of the public at large – why is this not addressed?

  12. nanetteclaret says:

    Archicantor –

    I was brought up Presbyterian and there was NEVER any mention of the Lord’s Supper being anything but a solemn memorial. It would have been scandalous if anyone had thought or said otherwise. Question 170 of the Westminster Catechism clearly states that they do not believe that Christ is there in any way but spiritually. I wonder if you’re not confusing the Presbyterian church with the Episcopal church (I was Episcopalian, too, for 18 years before converting.) Some Episcopal churches do believe in the Real Presence.

    Presbyterians said that “Episkopos” meant “elder.” Priests were never mentioned. But to translate “Episkopos” as “elder” after it having meant “bishop” for 1500 years is like deciding the word “table” really means something you sit on and not eat at. They completely changed the meaning of the word, so that they would not have to deal with having a hierarchical governing structure. It was just so much easier to have “teaching elders,” “ruling elders,” and “deacons,” than to have someone to have to be accountable to.

  13. Archicantor says:

    Hi, nanetteclaret. As I am Anglican myself, I hope I’m not confusing Presbyterian with Episcopalian teaching! (After all, we were persecuted as virtual papists by the Presbyterians under Oliver Cromwell, so we darn well made it our business to know the difference.) But it is good to have someone who can comment from experience on the American Presbyterian situation. I humbly suggest that few church historians would agree with your analysis of Presbyterian theology. But what Calvin and others wrote (about which I know a little), and what the Presbyterian Church (USA) teaches and practises (of which I know nothing), are two different things altogether.

    As I understand it, the real root question for Presbyterians was not to do with fudging New Testament vocabulary to escape episcopal accountability, but rather to assign a cut-off date for what counted as “apostolic” practice (i.e. before the “corruptions” set in that were “reformed” in the sixteenth century). Presbyterians based their system on scripture and pre-Nicene Christian theology, where there’s plenty of ambiguity about what distinguishes presbyters from bishops (in the New Testament and in early extra-canonical writings, e.g. Polycarp). Anglicans (before we ditched both!) based their system on scripture and the Fathers of the first six centuries (i.e. right up to the Augustinian mission to Britain). So for them episcopacy was at the very least the bene esse and for some the esse of the Church. For both, the choosing of a cut-off for “trustworthy” doctrine had serious implications for sacramental theology too (and what each means by “spiritual” in the Eucharist can vary tremendously — for many Anglicans it really just meant “not cannibalism”, which is how they thought of popular late medieval, rather than Scholastic/Thomist, ideas about transubstantiation).

    Rome, of course, has never drawn a historical line beyond which all developments are to be held as “corruptions” of the deposit of faith, so there’s never been anything to “get back to” (pace the liturgists of the post-Conciliar reform!). There is only continuity with the past and ever-deeper exploration of what the whole of the faith has contained and implied from the beginning.

    Now ask me if I’m thinking very hard about Anglicanorum coetibus… :)

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    Then the Presbyterians should ordain women, but they don’t have anything at all to say about us. What we do is NOT THEIR BUSINESS. Damn busybodies.

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