Scenes from the annual LCWR meeting: the fecundity of chaos

Today on the invaluable site of NCFishwrap we learn that at the meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) the gathered sistren are turning to a brand new plan in the face of their dwindling numbers.

Here are a few excerpts.

Accompanied by the sound of bells, they encircled her as she stood in the center of the stage. Then all 600 sisters in attendance extended their right hands as they chanted a blessing: “Receive strength and light; receive power, receive love.”

This reframing of the “tried and true” verbal introduction was a fitting prelude to the message Bracamontes delivered — that traditional ways of exercising authority and power are breaking down and new structures of equality and shared responsibility are emerging.

Well!  That‘s new!

I am looking for photos or, oh please oh please oh please, video of that.  I’ll make the popcorn.

Remember, what was it, last year?  Exactly one year ago today!  And don’t forget the great Vincenzo’s version!

Here is the insight the LCWR’s special speaker brought about breaking male-domination in the Church:

“To practice a Gospel alternative,” she said, “we need to de-construct the domination-submission model that most of us have internalized and which is an underlying condition of our cultures.” [1 Tim 2:11-15]

To illustrate her point, she told of two Mexican seminarians who were delighted to have their hands kissed by parishioners during a Holy Week mission. When she questioned them about their attitude, they said they’d been taught not to resist this sign of respect. Calling this attitude part of a “clerical culture” that needs to be reformed, she said, “I suggested that at least they could offer to kiss the person’s hand in return as a sign of mutual respect.”

You can see they are confronting the big issues of the day even as elitists they run down the customs of the poor devout faithful.  If men do it or like it, it must be stopped.

This is a great example of the the FFLF (Female Fun Limitation Factor, defined as that effect produced on one or more males having fun when a female of any age asks in that special tone of voice, “Do you really think you should be doing that?”, and in all its variations, especially through The Look and other non-verbal signals.)

But wait!  There’s more from LCWR:

“Once we realize that cultural models are human creations and, therefore, can be changed and adapted, we become more creative and dynamic in our search for transforming alternatives: other worlds become possible, other ways of being church become possible, other forms of religious life become possible.”  [To seek strange new worlds where no man has gone before!]

She called on women religious to probe “Christian Memory,” to make the conscious choice to be attentive to the groans of the divine “Ruah,” the breath of God, that “is hovering over the darkness of our decaying civilization, yearning to bring forth the light.”

They are facing down male institutional domination.  I wonder how it is working out.

In another story, here, I read that they are exploring the complexity of the birthing metaphor, and – I am not making this up – the fecundity of chaos.

QUAERITUR: Why do some institutes of religious women have vocations and others have none?

BTW… scroll down here and look at the comments about SNAP in their combox over at Fishwrap.


Commentator APX found the photos page!  KUDOS!

Here is a sample… little tiny photos….

Look familiar?

Here they are gathered in “circles of contemplation”.

They do seem to be contemplating themselves, no?

I don’t think the Horst Wessel Song played any part in this.


And I don’t think the Horst Wessel Song has ever been played on a guitar, so let’s rule that out right now.

What we also discover from that page is a letter from The White House… really!  Look!

Among other things the LCWR is congratulated by the signers for help with the health care issue.  You remember, the big White House initiative a while back during which the Magisterium of Nuns defied the US bishops and helped POTUS pass something that would ultimately provide federal funding of abortion?  Yah… that’s the ticket.   The White House letter is signed by Joshua DuBois, Executive Director and Special Assistant to the President from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Alexia Kelley, Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor for the
White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

And I know this will surprise everyone.  the LCWR gave an award to Sr. Keehan!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “To practice a Gospel alternative,” she said, “we need to de-construct the domination-submission model that most of us have internalized and which is an underlying condition of our cultures.” [1 Tim 2:11-15]

    Fr. Z, perhaps a better Scripture passage to have glossed this with would be Philippians 2:5-11.

  2. Gail F says:

    “To illustrate her point, she told of two Mexican seminarians who were delighted to have their hands kissed by parishioners during a Holy Week mission. When she questioned them about their attitude, they said they’d been taught not to resist this sign of respect. Calling this attitude part of a “clerical culture” that needs to be reformed, she said, “I suggested that at least they could offer to kiss the person’s hand in return as a sign of mutual respect.””

    SNORT. Do people who say this sort of thing even hear themselves? One minute they are all for the customs of other cultures, and they next they are for completely abolishing them! My assumption, unless I hear otherwise, is that Mexican people (or at least, some Mexican people) LIKE to kiss the hands of priests and seminarians during Holy Week and other big Church liturgies and festivals. But no no no, priests and seminarians are MALE, so who cares what people like to do IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY? They need some American sisters to tell them how oppressed they are, and to tell the seminarians they don’t respect their own countrymen.

  3. Gail F says:

    I have to retract that remark — I didn’t realize she was Mexican herself. Arrogant? Yes. But not Americans-know-best arrogant.

  4. bernadette says:

    These women are such tiresome, one trick ponies.

  5. dmwallace says:

    What is the origin of using “Church” without the definite article in liberal circles? E.g. “other ways of being church become possible.” What left-wing grammarian decided this?

  6. disco says:

    Is ‘Christian Memory’ when we look at ‘Sacred Tradition’ and declare that we know better?

  7. Ralph says:

    I live in the Southwest where the (laudable) custom of kissing the hands of the priest is not uncommon. Why do we kiss the hands? Is it out of respect for the man? No. We kiss the hands of the priest out of respect for our Lord who chooses to use these hands set aside for the alter. We kiss the hands with respect for the vocation and love for our Lord. It is these hands that bring us our Lord in the Eucharist. As such, it would be highly inappropriate for a priest to kiss my hands in turn. It would be essentially like denying the divinity of the Eucharist. My hands are not the same as his! Nothing I do will bring forth the Holy Spirit to turn the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. The priest’s hands are set apart.

    I am not a theologan. I don’t know if this jives with other folks understanding, but I think it’s accurite for my part of the world.

  8. Commenting on this part of the quoted material: “…To illustrate her point, she told of two Mexican seminarians who were delighted to have their hands kissed by parishioners during a Holy Week mission. When she questioned them about their attitude, they said they’d been taught not to resist this sign of respect…”

    I watched as people kissed the ring of Bishop Athanasius Schneider when he was at my parish. Following Mass, he came up to the rail because altar boys informed him that people had objects to be blessed. First, however, those people took his hand and kissed that ring.

    I have been around a lot of bishops, but I had never witnessed anyone kiss the ring of a bishop prior to that. I have seen some attempts, but the hand was pulled away. I have since seen it done, and once asked a bishop if I could kiss his ring as a sign of reverence for his office, which he permitted.

    Bishop Schneider did not pull his hand away, but at the same time, I could imagine that he was stoic against a kind of pride that would have him want to pull it away. See, we have been conditioned for the last 40 years to think that the humble thing for a bishop to do is to pull away his hand. I say, on the contrary, I think there is greater humility in allowing people to show a sign of reverence to the office of bishop. The same could be said of a priest’s hands which are consecrated. I would go so far as to say that for a priest to permit his hand to be kissed, and a bishop his ring, it would remind the cleric that his hands are consecrated.

    No matter how sinful the priest or bishop, his hands confect the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fr. Thomas G. Morrow recounted the story of St. Francis and a priest:

    Once a Waldensian challenged Francis on his unshakeable reverence for priests, by pointing out the local pastor who was living in sin. “Must we believe in his teaching and respect the sacraments he performs?”

    In response, Francis went to the priest’s home and knelt before him saying, “I don’t know whether these hands are stained as the other man says they are. [But] I do know that even if they are, that in no way lessens the power and effectiveness of the sacraments of God… That is why I kiss these hands out of respect for what they perform and out of respect for Him who gave His authority to them.” His challenger left in silence.

    Source: “The danger of criticizing bishops and priests” at HPR –

  9. jbosco88 says:

    It always greatly saddens me to read articles like that, still being written.

    Moreover, comments on the article page such as “I can’t wait to see the first married Bishop of Rome … first female Bishop of Rome … Vatican III is coming…” make me sick to the stomach, that Satan can be so powerful and influential. I’m terribly confused when it comes to apologetics within the Church against wymymymyn because the key doctrines are just “not important” thus a basic understanding differs so radically, they just cannot be engaged.

    Vatican III would be pretty good though, in a few hundred years’ time, if Vatican I is anything to go by – or maybe we could have another Trent.

    I secretly hope that were I to go to seminary and become a Parish Priest, some of my parishioners were of this ilk. A great opportunity for catechesis.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    “To practice a Gospel alternative…”

    That about sums it all up!

  11. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t understand all the resentment of the LCRW congregations. [What don’t you understand? Can someone here help?] I sounds like sour grapes to me. [I hope that stops soon! o{];¬) ]

  12. I want to know, then, what’s going on with the Visitation of the sisters in the US. I read here the below. Is the Vatican backing off? Excerpts:

    Archbishop Joseph Tobin, the secretary of the Congregation for Religious is offering strong criticism of the atmosphere surrounding the Vatican’s apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States.

    The comments by Archbishop Tobin reinforce the perception that the Vatican investigation, which was once seen as a serious challenge to the policies and directions of some American religious orders, is now unlikely to call for major changes.

    Cardinal Franc Rodé, then prefect of the congregation, announced in 2009 that the apostolic visitation would “assess and constructively address” concerns about the welfare of active women’s religious communities in the United States. Archbishop Tobin was named secretary of the congregation in August 2010, and Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz was appointed prefect in January 2011 upon Cardinal Rodé’s retirement.

    Since his appointment, Archbishop Tobin has clearly signaled his sympathies for American women’s religious leaders. He underlined that stand in his latest comments to the Catholic News Service.

    “I believe a visitation has to have a dialogical aspect, but the way this was structured at the beginning didn’t really favor that,” the archbishop said. “Part of the real harm done at the beginning,” he said, was Cardinal Rodé’s decision that individual communities would not have the opportunity to read the reports that visitors were to submit to the Vatican.

    The archbishop suggested that American women religious who help govern their communities in Rome should assist the Congregation in evaluating the visitation reports on individual communities. That suggestion could lead to a new conflict, however. Individual women religious were permitted to speak with apostolic visitors in confidence, on the assumption that any critical comments would not be read by their superiors or other community members. If that confidentiality is now put aside, nuns who were critical of their overall direction of their communities may find themselves in an uncomfortable position.

    Archbishop Tobin indicated that he was sympathetic toward the leaders of women’s religious communities who felt that they were being accused of a lack of orthodoxy or obedience to the Church. He said that the Vatican is now working to restore their confidence.

    “The trust that should characterize the daughters and sons of God and disciples of Jesus isn’t recovered overnight,” Archbishop Tobin added. “I think women religious have a right to say, ‘Well, let’s see.’”

    Archbishop Tobin directed his most pointed criticism towards “canonical advisors” who “exploited” rumors that some communities might be dissolved or be given new leadership.

    “It’s like Fox News: they keep people coming back because they keep them afraid,” he said. “But certainly, on our side of the river or our side of the pond, we had created an atmosphere where that was possible.”
    This guy sounds like a real tool of the left. Anybody else see this? Thoughts?

  13. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I have had my hand kissed by laypersons; one time a woman knelt and kissed my foot.

    I didn’t ask for it, I don’t promote it; but I receive it. It is profoundly humbling.

    To do anything else, except say “thank you,” is an insult.

    As far as “reciprocity,” then by all means, clerics should honor that which is distinctive about the role of the laity. Wouldn’t it be great if we had special blessings for fathers, for mothers, if we honored lay volunteers, if we thanked them, if we had a theology about the dignity of baptism, if we had ways ritually to remember baptism…

    Oh yeah, we do.

  14. Joel says:

    FFLF. Might this be from the GL lexicon? :)

  15. Joel: YES! That’s where it came from, thanks for the reminder. GL!

  16. Choirmaster says:

    Wow! There was a gem of a comment over at the NCR, and rather than try to best it, I think I will just quote it here:

    Submitted by Gail F (not verified) on Aug. 16, 2011.

    Gee, you’re right. We educated, self-sufficient, breadwinning American women are STUPID! We haven’t noticed that we are oppressed, and that it is the ever-shrinking number of Catholic priests who are doing all the oppressing! As Homer Simpson would say, “D’Oh!” How in the world have I missed how oppressed I am all these years? How have I gone to mass all these years in a parish where women run and staff nearly all the committees and do nearly all the work — and make up more than half the assembly? Here I thought women were pretty much running the place, planning the liturgies, picking the music, proclaiming the readings, distributing communion, making everyone eliminate masculine pronouns and the word “Father” whenever possible, and running Parish Council. Don’t they see how the priest is oppressing them and imposing his sexist theology on everyone??? I think I will call them all and tell them RIGHT NOW.

    Now, I’m not advocating getting smart-a** with people or yelling at them just because they’re in complete disagreement with me, but Gail’s comment brought a wry smile to my face. Too long have I (a man) suffered under the domination/submission model of the tyrannical church-ladyism described here. It’s time that we men rise up and look for new ways of “being church”; ways in which we allow the spirit to move us out of earshot of the shrill voice of Sister Mary Bitterness; ways in which we can refer to each other as “he” or “him” without having to endure persecution of the pants-suite dominated matriarchal culture.

    In all seriousness, I would like to mention that this really doesn’t ruffle my feathers because I truly believe that their orders will die due to lack of new membership. I don’t actually want them to go, indeed, I would rather see them change their ways and a new springtime emerge for the LCWR, but I don’t think it will happen without a tremendous changing of hearts and a miraculous outpouring of divine grace.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, intercede for the salvation of the souls attached to the LCWR!

  17. APX says:

    I found pictures!!! (Not sure if they’re the ones you’re looking for, but there’s some weird mass arm raising ones.)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  18. Brad says:

    “…receive power…”

    Whose power? Their creaturely own? His? Via whom? Via what? In what licit way? In what valid way?

  19. ecs says:

    Is the frjim4321 above a Catholic priest? I have seen many a strange comments on Fr. Z’s blog by a frjim and was just curious if he was truly a Catholic priest in good standing. Thanks. [I really hate that sort of question, just launched steaming onto the middle of the floor like that. frjim4321 is a priest in good standing, as far as I know. Deal with his words or positions, and let me worry about his standing.]

  20. Brad says:

    Re the linked pics:

    Where is one image of the Lord?

  21. jaykay says:

    Nice to see they’re doing their bit for good ol’ Ma Gaia, though. Recycling the worn out stuff year after year.

    Fr. Jim: it’s not “resentment”: it’s humour. For resentment you have to go to the Sisters themselves. They seem to have that market cornered.

  22. Joe in Canada says:

    the anecdote about the Mexican seminarians is reassuring. These sisters haven’t forgotten everything they learned in 1955.

  23. “I don’t understand all the resentment of the LCRW congregations.”

    Resentment? Sounds to me like good clean humor, perhaps directed more at the NCR than at these poor women. Really, what could be funnier than the rigidly straight-faced seriousness with which this purportedly Catholic periodical reports events of stunning irrelevance to Catholicism.

    [Henry, we may have an objective genitive and subjective genitive problem. Did he mean resentment by some here against the LCWR or the LCWR’s own resentment. That’s the question!]

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    One time my pastor got upset with me for a particular (just) reason and even threatened that he could forbid me being involved in things at my parish. I apologized very much, and next time I saw him I took his hand and wanted to kiss it. My intent being simply, that he is my pastor, a priest, he acts in the person of Christ, I respect and love him precisely as priest. He was startled and tried to tell me no don’t, and I insisted that I could, and I did, kiss his hand. Then he took off down the street at a very rapid pace! When I apologized later for not letting him tell me no about it, he assured me I did nothing wrong, and everything has been very well between us ever since then.

    It would make no sense and be inappropriate if a priest wanted to kiss my hand. The whole point was that his hands were consecrated at his ordination, and bread becomes the Body of Christ in his hands, I was venerating his priesthood.

  25. frjim4321 says:

    Pastor of 750 household parish in the Midwest – someplace with lots of Bluebirds – very much in good standing the last time I checked. Though you never know, with the VC2010 on the way that might just be the last straw. (A bit tongue in cheek, but sometimes I wonder.)

    Very active church with growing attendance and PSR enrollment.

    In these parts there are several large LCWR congregations all of which are doing spectacularly good work. I daresay were it not for the LCWR I and several of my classmates would not have participated in a Vocation Weekend between seventh and eighth grade which resulted in admission to the HS seminary the following fall.

  26. Jack Hughes says:

    Dear frjim4321

    Whilst I would not deny that several congregations who are part of the LCWR do and have done good works in the past, the problem remains that many of them take part in activities that are condemed by the Church e.g. labrynths, aiding and abetting in the murder of the unborn (think of the Sister who was an ‘escort’ for an abortion mill) and spreading heresy in Catholic schools.

    In name these women are espoused to Jesus True God and True Man, in practise they are adultresses of the first order.

  27. frjim4321 says:


    Anecdotal evidence is the least reliable of all, and entirely ungeneralizable to the population.

    Social Research Methods 101

  28. Elizabeth D says:

    FrJim, you are a faithful reader of WDTPRS, but when you post here it seems usually to casually opine against or express indifference to some or other Catholic teaching or liturgical law. What is it that is attractive about this blog, for you as someone who doesn’t practice a devout obedience himself? As a young (33yo) revert Catholic, I find in my Catholic religion something (Someone) intensely compelling and fascinating, wonderful, beautiful, that asks everything of me and particularly intellect and will, and I am sad now how in the past I didn’t understand and turned away in so many ways, and I suppose I am still on the journey of conversion, and others, even priests still understand poorly and the love that they do have for Jesus Christ and for the Catholic faith is not strong enough to desire to say Fiat, to let it penetrate their whole intellect, will and memory. Some Christians are comfortable and satisfied with something less than union with God in love, to the point that they are actually rejecting this love.

  29. Tom says:

    dmwallace – “What is the origin of using “Church” without the definite article in liberal circles? E.g. “other ways of being church become possible.” What left-wing grammarian decided this?”

    I KNOW! I HATE this, too! It has become pervasive beyond obsession, and not just with the word “church”. I would rather light firecrackers in my ears than hear that construct. Maybe it has some origin in Tom Conry’s “Anthem” – now there’s a song which should be consigned to oblivion…. WARNING: If you are not familiar with the song, and feel the urge to look it up, have a vomit bag near by, and make sure there are no sharp object which with you might be tempted to gouge out your eyes….

  30. SouthTxMom says:

    Anyone think “changing cultural models” sounds worrisome? Nah! “transforming alternatives”? Once you’ve heard that feel-good phycho-babble, it’s easy to recognize from a mile away! We tried “being church” for years, and would have most likely left the Church out of sheer ignorance of our faith. Breaking bread with community, and hidden tabernacles are so 2008! We’ll stick with the Magisterium of the Church, thanks! What is more transforming than reverence for and faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? and clear, simple teaching of the Faith?

  31. frjim4321 says:

    “We are cold, we are frozen, we are ice for one another?” You mean that song?

    (Old seminary joke.)

  32. APX says:

    I KNOW! I HATE this, too! It has become pervasive beyond obsession, and not just with the word “church”. I would rather light firecrackers in my ears than hear that construct.
    There’s a priest in my diocese who constant uses the phrases, “we are Eucharist” and “be Eucharist for one another”. It drives me nuts!

    Maybe it has some origin in Tom Conry’s “Anthem” – now there’s a song which should be consigned to oblivion….
    But…but…it’s such a catchy up-beat, hip-rocking, guido fist-pumping, piano-pounding, toe-tapping tune! It always lifts my spirits as I sing “we, we, we” all the way through, so at the end of Mass I feel the strength to go out and be Church. *sarcasm*

    “We are cold, we are frozen, we are ice for one another?” You mean that song?
    Uses the pronoun “we ” 14 times in the chorus? Yeah, that’s the one.

  33. DFWShook says:

    If men do it or like it, it must be stopped.

    Which explains their affinity for the Liturgy Puppets.

  34. Athelstan says:

    Hello Fr. Jim,

    We can certainly generalize about the aggregate data and practices. The average age of an LCWR order nun is 75. The average age of a CMSWR order nun is less than half of that. The former have almost entirely dispensed with habits, communal living, or regular traditional devotions. They engage in radical, frequently dissenting theologies and dubious new age practices. I suggest that their utter failure to attract new vocations over the last few decades is not, in fact, a coincidence. If Humanae Vitae or changing social opportunities for women were to blame, the Nashville Dominicans (to take but one example of a CMSWR or traditional contemplative order) would also be hurting for new vocations. But they’re bursting at the seams.

    And what shall we say of the souls that their dissent has helped shipwreck, or the schools which have been forced to close to consolidate because they ceased living their traditional vocations? They – and those who led them down this path – have much to answer for , not least in light of the great works and tremendous witness their forebears in these orders once manifested. Some continue to do good works, but we cannot turn a blind eye toward the terrible chaos which has come to accompany it.

  35. Jack Hughes says:


    The propensity of congregations affiliated with the LCWR to enage in New Age practises is well documented, Do I actually have to give you the references of the New Oxford Review or EWTN articles? The case of the sister who worked as an escort for an abortion mill was documented on this blog, what about Sr. Carol Keehan who pushed abortion loving obamacare? What about the public apostates who left the Church to join the episcopal heretics because that nasty old JP II was faithful to his vocation and said that women could NOT be ordained as priests? The religious such as Sr. Joan Chittister who publicaly spout heresy and think that Sin doesn’t exist.

    Or better yet we have it from the mouth of these jezebels that they wish to remake the Church in their own image, free from the supposed cultural restraints of the first century, If that doesn’t contradict Pascendi then I don’t know what does.

    Your Son In Christ

    Jack Andrew Henry Hughes

  36. Springkeeper says:

    It greatly saddens me that these women have, for all intents and purposes, turned their backs on the incredibly beautiful riches of Christ and His Church to embrace the secular world and seek it’s acclaim. They still have the opportunity to do great and wonderful things to serve the Lord and help people instead of immersing themselves in feminism and almost goddess worship. I pray for their immortal souls.

  37. Frances M says:

    The line from the 70’s about religious women in J.C. Penney’s pantsuits continues to hold true.

  38. Mouse says:

    More than anything, this is really sad. We should refrain from sarcastic or mocking comments, even though it does tend to provoke them, and pray for the Lord to touch the hearts of any of these women who have good will, that they will be brought to the truth before they die. Some of them could really be on their way to hell, and that is no joking matter. We should feel about them as we would (or should) feel about any of our mothers or sisters, if they were involved in the same things that many of these sisters have been. We love and pray for and when there’s an opportunity try to reason with our mothers, sisters, etc. We can never have a “good riddance” or “you get what you deserve” attitude towards any human being.

    About the hand-kissing: Once I learned of this custom, I loved it. But I have only had the courage to kiss the hand of one priest – a priest from Latin America who says the Traditional Latin Mass (as well as the new one). Because he’s from Latin America and is traditional, I knew I could get away with it. To me, it is not just reverence and gratitude for his priesthood and his sacrifice, but also an act of love and reverence for Christ, who comes to us through his hands.

    Maybe if some of our somewhat tepid priests had their hands kissed by someone, it would reignite something in their hearts (especially if they are old enough to know about the custom, maybe some young ones don’t). After all, didn’t St Francis convert a sinful priest by saying nothing but just knocking on his door and kissing his hand? Unless I remember the story wrong and there was no handkissing….

  39. Tom says:

    @APX hahaha. Reminds me of a song or poem I was once told about, where the person calls all sorts of mundane things in his day “eucharist”. Something like “I walked down the sidewalk, it was…. eucharist. I had lunch with friends, it was….. eucharist” etc

    It’s not bad enough they attack the Church, Her liturgies, dogma, etc…. but now grammar, too? What’s next, kittens?

  40. smad0142 says:

    I saw that silly poem/song prayer card about the Eucharist once. My solution was to take all of them from the Parish, as an act of charity to spare other people from such foolishness. They haven’t been replaced since :).

  41. Bryan Boyle says:

    You know, up until the end of most dictatorships (and we’re witnessing the decline of the dictatorship of relativistic humanism), the True Believers ™ of the lies all gather in their particular bunker and perform self-congratulatory acts of obedience to their own narrow view while sticking fingers in their ears so as not to hear the incoming artillery that is destroying their Potemkin Village overhead. Happened a lot in the last century; I’m sure if you go back throughout history, you’ll find many other examples.

    Taking a look at the photographs, I was struck by the nicely coiffed grey hair, lined faces from years on the front lines of the progressive protest marches, picket sign carrying, and tilting at authority. While many of them are still spry (and why shouldn’t they be…three hots and a cot, all their worldly needs taken care of, and they’re free to do what they choose…nice work if you can get it ), tempus fugit. Truly. While not totally irrelevant, they are fast approaching that state. So, it may be aggravating…it may be humorous…it may be sad…but relevant to the One True Church? Less and less, IMHO.

    Father’s biological solution is close to beginning to start to take its measure to solve the immediate problem in God’s time. There’s a lot of wreckage left in their wake to sweep up, repoint the bricks in the wall that are left, new bricks to replace the tissuepaper stage sets these folks have erected on foundations of sand. Let the Lord sort it out (I personally would not want to have to answer for driving someone away from the Truth and the Faith…I’m going to be a bit busy just with my own personal faults than to have THAT on my soul…)–our job is to preserve the Catholic Faith in light of its unbroken tradition (which, admittedly, has been in hiding in exile these last few years…but is sticking its nose out further and further) and belief, so when this time of white martyrdom at the hands of these protestants in pseudo-Catholic garb are gone…there is STILL the Church He founded standing here in spite of their best efforts as the enemy’s useful idiots. So…instead of veering off about a bunch of superannuated children of the 60s stuck in that warp in the time-space continuum spouting their new age psychobabble and practicing their aggrieved victimhood…look to the future and lay the groundwork for the glorious dawn of the resurgence of the Faith.

    Just my $.02. Pray for them. Probably few do. They (and we all) need it. Some more than others.

  42. jbosco88 says:

    The obvious has to be pointed out – the picture of them with their arms raised in salute for a disillusioned cause is worryingly familiar with another regime of the early 20th century.

  43. RichR says:

    Today on the invaluable site of NCFishwrap we learn that at the meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) the gathered sistren are turning to a brand new plan in the face of their dwindling numbers

    Seems that the marketing department of the LCWR needs some tips on reaching young people if they are advertising their “plan” in the NCF.

  44. Jaceczko says:

    ““To practice a Gospel alternative,” she said, “we need to de-construct the domination-submission model that most of us have internalized and which is an underlying condition of our cultures.” [1 Tim 2:11-15]

    Fr. Z, perhaps a better Scripture passage to have glossed this with would be Philippians 2:5-11.”

    Or maybe 1 Cor. 14:34–35. It always gets me that nobody seems to read 1 Cor 14, since it’s the chapter immediately after one of the most famous single chapters of the NT.

  45. Gail F says:

    Choirmaster: That was me! I was reading through the unbelievable comments on that site and I could not take it any more. Glad it made you smile.

    It is funny in many ways, but very sad as well. The comments on the NCR page really show how little grounds there is for hope for these women. True, there are many wonderful women represented by the LCWR who do many wonderful things — I have met some whose holiness put me to shame — but as a whole it seems they believe all that silliness about giving birth to a new church and eliminating the sexism they see EVERYWHERE and clinging to being oppressed victims when they are actually highly educated and accomplished people, many who have received accolades from high places and even run multi-billion dollar corporations. What can you do? The vocal, powerful ones really believe all that and don’t care so much about God. The rest (and I hope there are many) have no say.

    I write for a Catholic radio station and you may like these essays on the subject: The first, about how sad it is:
    And the second, about how ridiculous it is:

  46. ContraMundum says:

    Brad (16 August 2011 at 3:55 pm) largely stole my thought.

    It’s one thing to pray over someone. That actually has both a long history and a perfectly reasonable explanation for why it is useful. However, it has to be a prayer, a petition, to have any value whatsoever, something like, “May the Lord grant you power,” or better, “May the Lord grant you the power needed to fulfill His will,” or even better, “May the Lord grant you the graces needed to fulfill His will.” Does anyone (aside, perhaps, from the authors of the lame-duck ICEL) really believe that what were saying has the same meaning as that last formulation? Any real prayer is an admission of insufficiency, of a neediness before God, and of an acceptance that God both understands the needs and loves the people for whom we are praying more than we do, and so is in an infinitely better position to determine what is for their good.

    Only one exception to the “may the Lord” formulation pops into my mind, and that is the confection of a sacrament by a priest in persona Christi. When a priest grants absolution, it is not with the words, “May you be absolved” but “I absolve you”. The former would be a prayer from the priest himself, not a sacrament; the latter is the forgiveness which Christ alone has the authority to offer being granted through the priest. (This situation happened to me once, and I had to repeat the confession later.)

  47. Clinton says:

    I notice that the ladies of the LCWR took time out from contemplating the fecundity of chaos
    to award the 2011 “Outstanding Leadership Award” to Sr. Carol Keehan. This praise and
    endorsement was heaped on Sr. Keehan in spite of (or because of?) her very public
    efforts over the last year to undermine the bishops’ teaching re: problematic aspects
    of Obamacare, publicly-funded contraception and abortifacients, and the abortion recently
    performed in an Arizona ‘catholic’ hospital. Clearly, the LCWR chose to bestow this award
    because it agrees with her deeply problematic views.

    So the women of the LCWR have told us where their hearts lie.

    An earlier commenter pointed out that for all of their faults, the sisters of the LCWR still
    accomplish a lot of good for the Church. I don’t doubt that they still do a great deal with the
    debris that remains of their congregations. I just wonder what might have been done for
    the Church if they had remained, well, faithful.

  48. Jeremiah says:

    I find that when I find myself being driven to distraction by Sr. Plainclothes Wannabeapriest, or by such congregations and communities as the LCWR, I just sing to myself (to the tune of “Favorite Things”)

    Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George,
    Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles,
    Congregation of Saint John; contemplative and active:
    These are a few of my favorite orders!

    When the heterodox speak,
    When the 70s sing,
    Driving me stark raving mad,
    I simply remember my favorite orders,
    And then I don’t feel so bad!

    I do think that we should add such sisters to our petitions with the prayer that a friend of mine who just made her first profession requested of me: that she might be a faithful bride of Christ.

    In Christi,

  49. jeffreyquick says:

    “I don’t think the Horst Wessel Lied has ever been played on a guitar”
    Sorry, that’s not a sign of innocence; here’s proof:

    [Sigh. Who knew? You can’t even kid around about things without them turning out to be true after all.]

  50. Catholicspirit says:

    Here’s a question for anyone who is knowledgeable in canon law (and the like) to answer: Has there been any statements released by the Catholic Church regarding the standing of such institutions as the LCWR that embody lifestyles and beliefs contrary to the Church?

    Where are the orthodox communities of sisters in the U.S.? As a young Catholic woman, to see such unfeminine “feminists” in the posted photos is embarrassing to say the least.

  51. Luke Whittaker says:

    FrJim: Regarding the “good” that the LCWR has done/does: It is easy to be impressed by the social good that so many people do. But Saint Paul points out that if you presume on your merits or works, then grace is no longer given to you. We were chosen by God to be good through the grace of the one choosing us. For grace did not find merit, but made merit. ‘What then? What Israel sought he has not obtained.’ What did Israel seek and not obtain? The Apostle said that ‘by pursuing the law of justice, Israel has not arrived at the law of justice’ Why not? ‘Because they sought it not by faith, but by works” (Romans chapter 11). One of the major indicators of how well or poorly I am doing spiritually is to make an honest assessment of how I adhere to the teaching Church. It’s just a fact, even during those times when we find particular teachings difficult to give our assent to. In the words of Jesus our Lord, “He who hears you (Church), hears me, and so on…” (Lk 10:16). To wrestle with the teaching authority of the Church publically, it would seem, leaves one dangerously close to finding oneself in the position of not cooperating with grace. I am, personally, much more impressed (in awe) by the manner in which God uses those who do cooperate with grace (the mystical body of Christ) to encourage those who are far from him. And as much as I am grateful (truly) for your priesthood, is it possible that the inspiration you found through the LCWR whilst in eight grade serves as little proof of their authenticity as members of the Roman Catholic Church?

  52. Luke Whittaker says:

    But then, I forgot to share the good news contained in Romans 11: “But even those who fell will be grafted back in, unless they persist in their unbelief…”

  53. Mdepie says:

    My only question if why are these people not formally excommunicated? IS the institutional Church supporting them in any way? IF so they are wasting their (our) money. they have long ago ceased to be Catholic or even recognizably Christian. If they were formally excommunciated they would cease attracting more attention they they deserve. They are basically the equivalent of some sort of fever swamp fringe religious element akin to snake charmers and wiccans. If the Church would just declare them excommunicate we could removee absurd Christian gloss with which they are covering themselves and they would mercifully fade away into oblivion. And maybe, just maybe the act of excommunciating them would focus their attention enough that one or two might repent before the shuffle off this veil of tears and finds out just how lost they really are.

  54. frdgss says:

    Great pics! Can anyone confirm that the Response to the Psalm was “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” (cf.Acts 19:35)?

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  55. The other catch phrase that gets to me is Faith Formation classes beginning in September? So now we have to wait to have our Faith formed?

  56. AnAmericanMother says:

    I have an unusual two cents to put in here.
    It’s a very long story that I won’t bore you with, but I have a very dear long time friend who became a third degree Wiccan priestess.
    A pretty significant amount of the goings-on at this conference were ‘borrowed’ without any credit from the modern Wiccans. I recognize an awful lot of it.
    Now, the modern pagan movement, particularly the American Wiccans, is largely just that – a modern invention. But to the extent they are able, they have revived and reconstructed ancient pagan practices – priestesses, magic, summoning, etc. And I think the LCWR is tempted into these practices because the primacy of women and the ‘goddess principle’ in Wicca dovetails so nicely with their prejudices. More specifically, there are groves that are called ‘Dianic’ that are frankly anti-male and completely goddess-oriented. That’s what I’m seeing here.
    These ladies are playing with fire.

  57. AnAmericanMother says:

    What an apropos observation. They’d rather refer to “the authentic female spirit of church” or some such tommyrot. I hope they don’t mean what they say, and that they’ve just sort of backed into all this. Because if they really mean it, I am frightened.

  58. germangreek says:

    Sorry, that photo on top reminds me of Mick Jagger:

    All I can think is: “You’re 68 years old, for crying out loud! When are you going to GROW UP!”

  59. Father, if you are wondering how they got a letter from the White House, remember this little tidbit.

    Sr. Weisenbeck, FSPA, former head of LCWR(she is the one pictured being teleported) was appointed by Obama to his “White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.”

    I am certain she did not sign the document due to the obvious fact that it’s a gold rainbow star payback for pushing Obamacare.

  60. Truly, it’s ineffably sad.

  61. Sandmama says:

    There do not seem to be any attendees at this conference who are under the age of 55 or so. I think this will all prove to be rather a short-lived rebellion as younger religious women seem to be far more likely to be living their vocations in more faithful and traditionally Catholic ways.
    I try to pray every day for these young sisters who do not seek to dismantle, but to serve the Church and by extension, its people. They and their brothers are a source of tremendous hope for the future of the Catholic faith in the US.

  62. benedetta says:

    I have no doubt whatsoever that whoever may fall will be grafted back in unless they persist in their unbelief. So the Church continues to look for reconciliation of all. False teaching by those in position of public leadership and responsibility who have supported abortion on the name of the holy Church have wrought visible and concrete destruction, past merely theoretical or in the air stances, now to the number of 30 million, more fatalities than all war, a lost generation. Also concretely threre has been untold suffering, material and spiritual because of public false teaching by those with responsibility to prevent this, in our Church. Public false teaching is something of a different suffering for the faithful than the private journeys of individual believers. Helping the leaders to have an opportunity to be grafted back in goes hand in hand with preventing them from harming innocents and those who have not had an opportunity to know the love of God.

  63. Frank H says:

    If your eyes need some relief after viewing those pictures from the LCWR, take a look here:

  64. Tom T says:

    The real big meeting and illicit mass, which you probably covered before I started reading your
    blog, despite two warnings from Detroit`s Archbishop took place in June around the 11th and 12th.
    The American Catholic Council (Acc) had a national gathering which included other womans organizations and featured, amongst others, none other than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend the pro-abortion, pro gay marriage advocate, who also happened to be the head of a lecture series at
    a well known Dominican college in Northern Calif. and also our forefront advocate for womans
    ordination, Sr. Joan Chittister OSB. It was not only strange to me but even bizarre to see these
    woman drssed up as priests and con-celebrating mass with an elderly retired priest whose name
    escapes me at the moment. What I don`t seem to understand is the fanatical need to change Catholicism to fit their agenda. I mean there other faiths that ordain woman and there were quite
    a few at this paricular meeting dressed in roman collars and black suits and that is all available to
    them as Episcopalians or whatever. I guess I just don`t seem to understand the psychology behind
    it all. Seems to me they are missing the point. Just my thoughts. Pax

  65. Centristian says:

    “To illustrate her point, she told of two Mexican seminarians who were delighted to have their hands kissed by parishioners during a Holy Week mission. When she questioned them about their attitude, they said they’d been taught not to resist this sign of respect. Calling this attitude part of a “clerical culture” that needs to be reformed, she said, “I suggested that at least they could offer to kiss the person’s hand in return as a sign of mutual respect.'”

    Guess what I think she can kiss.

  66. Jack Hughes says:

    Personally I love the idea of Kissing the hands of the Priest, there is absolutely nothing wrong in kissing the hands that call Jesus down upon the altar, the hands that are sanctified to hold God, Esse ipsum subsistens, the great I AM in the flesh. These are the hands that baptise, that are lifted to pronounce the words of absoulution that impart God’s blessings.

    Who WOULDN’T want to kiss those hands?

  67. pfreddys says:

    Horst Wessel Lied! ROFL!!!

  68. lordhavemercy says:

    @Frank H
    Yes, that does make me feel better, thank you!

  69. irishgirl says:

    I’m going to be 57 soon (in a few days’ time), and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a gathering like that!
    There must be some Sisters who are of my age bracket who don’t like what is happening in their communities….there has to be…..
    Frank H-thank you for the link and the photos! These are wonderful to see! They make one feel that there is hope for true, authentic religious life in the Church!

  70. John Nolan says:

    “To practice (sic) a Gospel alternative we need to deconstruct the domination-submission model that most of us have internalized etc.” Please, please treat this verbal garbage with the ridicule it deserves; it is even more hilarious because it was presumably meant to be taken seriously. Chesterton, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

  71. MaryRoseM says:

    Then all 600 sisters in attendance extended their right hands as they chanted a blessing: “Receive strength and light; receive power, receive love.”

    Chanted is right. That sounded pretty close to a Wiccan chant.

    I don’t understand why they shy away from praying a “Hail Mary” prayer? If they’re so crazy about feminism, they should acknowledge that our Blessed Mother has the highest honor a woman could have — to give birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t be surprised if either one wasn’t mentioned at this conference.

    “Chanted” really, really irritates me. What is wrong with saying, “Prayed?” But then again, the “airy-fairy” words really didn’t sound like a prayer.

  72. Bill69 says:

    Jan Novotka, the Horst-Wessel-Lied strummer at LCWR seems to have quite the CV (from her website…these are good): leader of song for retreats and rituals (I wonder what kind?), theology teacher, campus minister, retreat director, school guidance counselor, pastoral associate in a Catholic parish, bio-spiritual focusing companion, trained wilderness/vision fast guide AND…Master Gardener/Organic Gardening Consultant. In 1994 she studied at Genesis Farm, receiving certification in Earth Literacy. The focus of her work has been The Universe Story, eco-spirituality, and the evolutionary shift in consciousness. She sings of the sacredness and oneness of all, the unfolding Universe, care for the Earth, the awakening of a new and vast dimension of human consciousness, and the Still, Silent Presence within.

    I don’t know about you but I would not eat any tomatoes she grows.

  73. Gail F says:

    Bill69: Do these people hear themselves?????

    I bet she was one of the “Earth Elders” a couple of years ago at the EarthSpiritRising co-hosted by a Catholic university here in Cincinnati.

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