Card Levada makes pointed comments about LCWR

The nearly ubiquitous John L Allen, Jr., still and sadly writing for the Fishwrap, reports for the same the following. I insert some emphases and comments:

Vatican official warns of ‘dialogue of the deaf’ with LCWR [a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns.]

by John L Allen Jr [1] on Jun. 12, 2012

ROME — In the wake of Tuesday’s meeting with representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Vatican official responsible for a recent crackdown[I have come around to thinking that this is a good word for what happened.] said he still believes the relationship can work, but also warned of a possible “dialogue of the deaf,” reflected in what he sees as a lack of movement on the Vatican’s concerns.

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, floated the possibility that should the LCWR not accept the reforms outlined in an April 18 assessment, the result could be decertifying it in favor of a new organization for women’s religious leaders in America more faithful to church teaching.  [HEY!  There is one, too!]

Levada strongly rejected charges that the move against the LCWR is based on “unsubstantiated accusations” or lacks transparency, both complaints leveled in an LCWR statement issued last week.

“In reality, this is not a surprise,” he said, insisting that the process began four years ago and that its results are based not on secret accusations but “what happens in their assemblies, what’s on their website, what they do or don’t do.”  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Levada also denied press reports that retired Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston helped instigate the move against LCWR, saying, “He’s not involved in this.”

Levada made the comments in an interview with NCR held shortly after the meeting between officials of his office and Sr. Pat Farrell, president of the LCWR, along with Sr. Janet Mock, the group’s executive director.

The LCWR is the largest umbrella group for the leaders of women’s religious orders in the United States. [Thank you, Mr. Allen, for getting that right.  LCWR is for the leaders of groups and not for all the members of the groups represented.]

Capping a four-year review, in April, Levada’s office issued a stinging eight-page assessment of LCWR, citing “serious doctrinal problems” and “doctrinal confusion,” including alleged “silence” on abortion and other pro-life concerns, [“alleged”?  Okay, Mr. Allen, or LCWR, where is the open support of the Church’s pro-life teaching?] a policy of “corporate dissent” on matters such as women priests and homosexuality, and the inroads of “certain radical feminist themes.”

After Tuesday’s meeting, Farrell and Mock released a statement describing the session as “open” and saying LCWR would ponder its further response in upcoming regional meetings and at an August national assembly. They declined to comment beyond the statement.

In his NCR interview, Levada said he believes the breach between Rome and the LCWR can be repaired.

“I believe it can work,” he said. “That’s my hope and prayer.”

At the same time, Levada described the risk of a “dialogue of the deaf,” saying the Vatican has been in talks with LCWR for four years, but along the way the group has made choices that, in Levada’s eyes, signal it’s not taking their concerns to heart.

[Want proof?] Specifically, Levada cited publication of an interview with Fr. Charles Curran, a moral theologian censured by the Vatican in the 1980s for his views on sexual morality, in a recent issue of the group’s Occasional Papers as well as decisions to invite Barbara Marx Hubbard, often described as a “New Age leader,” to address the upcoming August assembly meeting and to bestow an award on Immaculate Heart Sr. Sandra Schneiders, another theologian sometimes critical of Vatican policy.

Levada acknowledged he had given LCWR the go-ahead to proceed with its August assembly, but said he wasn’t aware at the time of the choice of speakers or honorees, and that “I wish they hadn’t made these choices.”  [Interesting.  No?  But this gesture of – what can you call it – naivete? – should be taken as a proof of good will towards]

“Too many people crossing the LCWR screen, who are supposedly representing the Catholic church, aren’t representing the church with any reasonable sense of product identity,” Levada said.  [It’s the Duck Rule.]

Levada said while church officials cannot force LCWR to change course, if things come to an impasse, they can withdraw official recognition.

“What we can do, and what we’d have to do, is to say to them, ‘We will substitute a functioning group for yours,’ ” he said.


Read the rest there.

Very encouraging!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    I am already feeling the urge to find Bishop Levada and kiss his shoe. Certainly he’s on the right track, and best of all, it seems the right man has been selected for the job at hand. Bravo!

    I get now, that 1500 of the nuns are “members” of the LCWR, in that they are the leaders of the various orders, etc. But really, leaders are expected to speak for the members, and represent them in multiple ways. Can anyone imagine someone like St. Teresa of Avila being “led” by nuns such as these? The easiest way for me to figure out which side of a fence an issue is on is to imagine what somebody I trust would think about it, most likely. There is no way St. Teresa of Avila would allow herself to be represented by dissident leaders. If it is not acceptable to her, why should it be acceptable to any nun?

    There is no room for cowardice in our world. There is no room for self-serving decisions. Silence equals agreement in many situations. There is a need for the courage of one’s convictions and the actions that follow. If not now, in our thoroughly confused world, then when? Nuns ought not be represented by those who have distanced themselves from Jesus Christ and indeed, truth. They ought not allow it, and if they do, they no longer represent the Catholic Church, and I hope they would be removed, like a cancer.

  2. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Father Z – I suspect that when Cardinal Levada approved the August Assembly, he was just giving them a whole lot of rope to see what they would do with it. I don’t think he needed this so much for himself; rather, he needed documented, public proof that they were not interested in making changes, and he got it.

  3. Maynardus says:

    “We will substitute a functioning group for yours”

    Gotta love that comment, only wish we heard it more often, e.g.: Cardinal Levada stated “if necessary, we will substitute a functioning episcopal conference for yours!”

    Kidding aside, it’s certainly appropriate at this juncture to put the pantsuit sisterhood on notice that there *is* a limit to the nonsense up-with-which-Rome-will-put…

  4. Andy Milam says:

    The Vatican’s position is very clear that while they were, “nice” that the discussions were not a form of “dialogue” as defined by liberal-speak. Rather that it was a way for them to express their concern and for the Vatican to take what they will under advisement. But the Vatican also clearly states the bottom line, “According to Canon Law, a conference of major superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local conference of bishops (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 708-709). The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.”

    This is not to be seen as allowing for them to continue to operate in a manner which in inconsistent with Church teaching and remain Catholic. The sooner the nun’s realize this, the better. And it will save everyone a lot of pain and un-needed angst.

    (As a matter of transparency, this is what I wrote in my blog yesterday, )

  5. Bryan Boyle says:

    Diane: that’s what I was thinking.

  6. acardnal says:

    Yesterday the LCWR and today the SSPX. Cardinal Levada must be ready for his August vacation by now.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    When parents have a child who is old enough to go out at night and take the car, those parents have to trust all the training and truth that child,now a young adult, has appropriated. These nuns have misused the trust that Holy Mother Church has given them, That the Cardinal has approved the conference in August indicates that he is giving them one more chance to prove their loyalty before they are grounded. If the rebellion is deep and big enough, they will end up out of the Church. If they repent and prove that they can be obedient daughters of the Church, so be it. High Noon.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: nuns “letting” themselves be represented by the LCWR —

    First off, you don’t know the life of St. Teresa of Avila. As part of her vow of obedience, she did indeed “let” other nuns (like the abbesses of the community where she lived) represent her. She didn’t just wake up one day and anoint herself the leader of the new Discalced Carmelites; she spent a whole lot of years politicking, submitting to various superiors, and accepting manure. Even after she became an abbess herself, she still had to “let” herself be represented by various confessors, bishops, nobles, and so forth. Some of her superiors were idiots, wrong, crazy, non-orthodox, or criminal; but she obeyed because that was her vow. (And also, a Christian virtue even for those who haven’t vowed it.)

    Second, if you’re a nun who’s about 100 years old, living in the order’s nursing home, and not even given a vote in the order’s elections (although many orders that went hippie in the Sixties also dropped a lot of their ancient democratic institutions, for that matter), I don’t see how you think said nuns could resist, even if they stopped taking their vows of obedience seriously. If you go to the motherhouse of most crazy orders, you will find that the old nuns there maintain their own community life in a much more fitting way than their younger and more dissident fellows; but this doesn’t seem to sear the conscience of the younger ones, who think they’re being very nice for “letting” such nuns have various small privileges. They think this, because other orders are still pretty adamant about preventing older nuns from having any continuity with the older way of life of the order.

    You don’t know what’s going on, or what has gone on in the past.

  9. benedetta says:

    Yeah, “alleged silence on prolife matters” is one thing, and there is certainly plenty of that around from those lacking in fortitude and specializing in duplicity. But it’s worse than that, it’s that people in this organization literally speak and act on their convictions that abortion is a “good”, for women, for society, and that the unborn matter nothing at all. It’s much worse than alleged silence on prolife matters, as sad and culpable as that omission is.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    Cardinal Levada thinks it could still work out because Catholics believe in miracles. It will be interesting to see what really happens, now that the LCWR is finally really on the Vatican’s radar.

    There were actually two investigations, one into the LCWR and one into specific congregations of sisters in the US. We’ve seen the results of the LCWR investigation. I haven’t yet see the results of the other one. That will be interesting too.

  11. catholicmidwest says:

    Diane at Te Deum Laudamus,

    Agree. Documentation, pure and simple.
    It’s going to function like the 1998 failed translation did for ICEL. It provides a perfect example of the kind of nonsense that this group engages in.

  12. Traductora says:

    This is great news. It sounds as if they really plan to do something about the LCWR, which is in any case not a very old organizationbut somehow seems to have hijacked the active orders.While it’s true that only the leadership were actually members, this naturally had an effect on all the sisters, and one of them in a local order told me that she felt it had really held them back from addressing some of the excesses of “reform” that resulted in their order not having had a vocation in decades.They had lost their sense of purpose, to a great extent, but unfortunately the influence of the LCWR worked against their recovering it or even feeling they had the independence to work at it, since that was obviously not part of the LCWR’s program. I think the LCWR suppressed the individuality of the orders in favor of the imposition of a radical agenda, or at least in favor of making it seem as if everybody was subscribing to their radical agenda.

    I think many orders would consider it a blessing to be free of the LCWR.

  13. HeatherPA says:

    The LCWR cannot help but bring to mind the “clique of older ladies” at church that run the women’s organization “their way or the highway”, withering anyone who suggests good and fruitful changes that are for the good of the Parish and its participants that they didn’t conceive themselves. That image always comes to mind. I daresay everyone has had an experience like that at some parish.

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    At the risk of sounding too picky, what is the Latin for “product identity”? Even if Cardinal Levada is being ironical (about “leaders” who seem aptly characterized as ideological ‘hucksters’), it still does not seem the best choice of words…

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