An examination of themes of keynote speeches delivered at LCWR Assemblies

At the blog Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam there is a reposted summary of themes which emerged from the writer’s close reading keynote speeches presented at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR – a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns).

Some large excerpts, but you should read the whole thing there:

I read through several of the keynote speeches, and I noticed a couple of themes (that’s what we Old Lit Teachers do–look for themes). Here’s just a few in no particular order:

1. “Mission”: all of the addresses I read (four of them) exhort the sisters to mission. But never the mission of the Church that we would recognize as evangelization, that is, the preaching and teaching of the gospel that Christ gave to the apostles. The mission the sisters are exhorted to take up is always, always some form of left-liberal social engineering disguised as caring for Earth or insuring access to adequate health [care] for women. […]

2). Insularity: despite the exhortations to “mission,” all of the addresses I read include broad descriptions of the history of women religious as a way of “situating” the experience of these women within their own “mission,” in other words, they spend a lot of page space on talking to one another about one another’s grand innovations after the VC2 and how these innovations are radically different from anything that’s come before […]

3). “Prophetic”: as a corollary to their mission and insularity, the addresses harp on how “prophetic” women religious are in these innovations. As far as I can tell, “prophetic” means whatever they want it to mean. It clearly does not mean what the Church means by the term. If the examples used are typical, “prophetic” means something like “doing what we please and then accusing the Church of being too traditional, oppressive, and isolated from the world for not following our lead.” Beware self-anointed prophets! […]

4). “We missed out”: probably the most interesting theme is what I will call the We Missed Out theme. This theme arises in several discussions of the scientific and technological revolutions of the 20th century. Apparently, this theme is meant to demonstrate the superiority of a modernist worldview over and against a wholly Christian worldview. […]

5). Futility: without exception the addresses I read painted depressing portraits of women religious as a tiny rebel band fighting the Sheriff of Rome. As part of the insularity painted by these addresses is a tragic sense of loss and the futility of their “mission” in the face of overwhelming authoritarian oppression by men. Apparently, we are to believe that women religious in the U.S. are guerrilla-fighters engaged in a war of attrition against the Church. Unfortunately for them, the attrition is all on their side. Rhetorically, these portraits serve an important purpose: by painting themselves as righteous rebels fighting a losing battle against the Man, the sisters are able to both continue their rebellion and justify their material failures all the while claiming moral victory. Neat, uh?

6). Jesus ain’t the Way: also without exception the addresses forthrightly deny Jesus’ own claim that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As a way of undermining the Church’s legitimate mission of evangelization, Jesus becomes just another good guy with a really cool message of pacificism, egalitarian communal life, and a feminist concern for eco-politics. In one address, delivered by Joan Chittister, the arrival of mosques in historically Christian lands is celebrated as a great advance for liberty and the pursuit of religious diversity. […]

7). Monotonality: the addresses are uniformly written and delivered by women religious who tell the gathered sisters only what they wanted to hear. There were no addresses that seriously challenged any of the preconceived notions held dear by these women. Without exception. the meme’s of “We Are the Future and Our Agenda is of God” is heard in terms of ecclesial revolution and theological dissent. Not one address challenged the sisters to rethink their assumptions along orthodox lines. Not one address asserted a theme, idea, theology, or political notion that would upset or stir the secular feminist pot these women are stewing in. […]

8). New Stories: as a result of the We Missed Out theme, the addresses pull on recent developments in cosmology to construct “new stories” about creation, space-time, human evolution, and the role of consciousness in our pursuit of holiness. Of course, none of these new stories read like anything found in scripture, tradition, science, or Church teaching. In fact, the purpose of the new stories is to lay a narrative foundation for a particularly gnostic-feminist view of the human person that “frees” us from the confines of patriarchal thinking by re-situating the human race as just another evolved species living and dying in a vast cosmos. Routinely, the addresses privilege “new cosmologies” over and against our biblical narratives of creation and the end of space-time, and undermine God’s Self-revelation in scripture. […]

If you are following the The Reform of LCWR at all, you should read the whole piece and file it away.

In the meantime, I suggest some of you readers go to the LCWR site and download some of their stuff before they change their page and make it disappear.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The memory hole appears to already be in operation! Most links to you to a 404 error message.

  2. plemmen says:

    Their webmaster has been busy this past week. A week ago, I only got 2 404 messages, now most of the documents whose links I saved lead to 404’s, especially those concerning presentations and addresses.

  3. ContraMundum says:

    In 1500 years, archaeologists will wonder: Who really were the LCWR, and why did their civilization vanish?

    A minor cult phenomenon will be spurred by a misinterpretation of one of their calendars as implying that the world will end shortly after its discovery.

  4. Margaret says:

    The disappearing link phenomenon is disappointing, in an odd way. These “wimmin” don’t even have the courage of their convictions, do they?

    At some point, shouldn’t the classic rebel stand his (her) ground and shout defiantly, “Yes!!! This is what we stand for!” Instead we have this site scrubbing silliness…

  5. tcreek says:

    This was from last Sunday at a parish 1 mile from my home. The parish is known for inviting those who dissent from Catholic teaching as McBrien, New Ways Ministry etc.
    This is not MY parish.
    by Maureen Fiedler on Apr. 24, 2012

    This past Sunday, I was privileged to give a talk at Epiphany Parish in Louisville, Ky. This is a lively, progressive parish with social justice at the center of its life.
    As luck would have it, the topic on which I had been invited to speak on some months ago was “faith-filled dissent.” I began by thanking the Vatican for providing me with so much rich material just before the talk. I was referring, of course, to the ultimatum from the Vatican that, if implemented, would destroy the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as we know it.
    The Epiphany folks roared. Their sentiments, like those of the vast majority of Catholic (and other) commentators ranged from “What are these guys thinking? Do they really think they can win?” to “Hey, nuns are the best thing going in the church” to “You go, girl!”

  6. digdigby says:

    Yes they go out among the poor (some of them anyway) encourage abortion, break up families in the name of feminism, cultivate ‘class anger’, sow envy and ’empowerment’ (a new code word for what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven). Hey we are COOL nuns….please love us!!! Above all, they have a ‘rich and rewarding life’ serving the poor. What an ego trip these flakes are on! I’ve met them.

  7. pfreddys says:

    I have to tell you: (LCWR – a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns) just doesn’t get old. I still get at least a chuckle when I read it. I can hear an announcer voice saying it like “A GE susidiary” or “A Hasbro company.”

  8. Has anyone tried Google cache? When His Hermeneuticalness had to pull the Bitter Pill’s hatchet job from his blog, several other bloggers recovered and re-posted it from that source.

  9. Joseph-Mary says:

    “This is a lively, progressive parish with social justice at the center of its life…Hey, nuns are the best thing going in the church” to “You go, girl!”

    How incredibly SAD! Here we thought Christ and His Gospel was to be the center of all parish life!
    They have so lost their way. As though dissenting and disobedient “nuns” were the best thing in the Church! I can only hope that eyes will be opened to He who is The Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is not about ‘us’ and our personal vision of ‘church’! There are tens of thousands of those we call protestants who go in that direction. The unfaithfulness to charism is why these dissenting bands of secular ‘nuns’ are dying out…and not too soon for their continuing scandal has led many from the true faith.

  10. ilovethepope says:

    A few snippets from a great example of why the LCWR is in trouble (Keynote address- Elizabeth Johnson CSJ 2009)

    “Human thought and love, we are learning, are not something injected into the universe from without, but are the flowering, the concentration, in us of deeply cosmic energies. Matter, zesty with energy, evolves to life, then to consciousness, then to spirit. We human beings are earthlings, part and parcel of this planet, the part that has become self aware.”

    “Quite literally, human beings are made of stardust.”

    ““Who is my neighbor?,” the lawyer asked Jesus (Lk 10:29). Riffing on the parable of the good Samaritan, our answer today needs to include not only the human person in need, the Samaritan, the outcast, the enemy all of these, of course but also the dolphin caught in tuna
    nets, the polar bears on melting ice, the rain forest being slashed and burned. Our neighbor is the entire community of life, the entire universe. We must love it as our very self.”

    “Again, the church itself continues to live by patriarchal values that, by any objective measure, relegate women to second class status governed by male dominated structures, law, and ritual. The challenge of the gospel, made clear in Jesus’ own condemnation of patterns of domination/subordination, summons our consciences to action on behalf of justice that will transform exploitative structures, whether based on class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other marker by which we divide ourselves, in view of the coming reign of God’s justice and peace.”

  11. Toronto AU Catholic says:

    I knew nothing about the LCWR until this recent incident involving the CDF.

    To test the accusation that they are overly focused on “social justice” and avoid issues like “abortion”, I searched their website for these two terms: 42 hits for the former, and 3 for the latter (two of which were short statements denying that the organization supports abortion and the third of which is a mention of the 1984 “Plurality and Abortion” controversy).

  12. AnnAsher says:

    It takes so long and so much effort and cash to reform. I ask is this organization essential to the Church? If LCWR did not exist, what would that look like? I say repress them and be done with the matter.

  13. mumstheword says:

    About 20 years ago I had occasion to read Donna Steichen’s book “Ungodly Rage”. At first it angered me that the order of sisters who had taught me back in the early sixties had taken such a dissenting turn. Then it saddened me. Over the years, as I have followed the stories of the LCWR, I have wondered why these women ever joined their orders and what or who in their lives caused them such anger and apparent bitterness. They need our prayers.

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