Fishwrap’s advocacy of dissent continues in a chat with Sr. Theresa Kane

The National Catholic Fishwrap, pipe for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR – a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns) continues lapdog-like in its tail-wagging support of dissident women religious.  A case in point:

Former LCWR leader gives take on Vatican order

Among those still trying to understand the implications of the Vatican order as the LCWR board meets this week is Mercy Sr. Theresa Kane.

A former LCWR leader, Kane made headlines across the world when she welcomed Pope John Paul II to the United States in 1979 and pointedly asked [interesting verb choice] him about the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood. [What a gal!]

Kane, now an associate professor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., first spoke to NCR about the Vatican order in a wide-ranging, half-hour-long phone conversation in early May.
Among her reflections then were her initial thoughts on hearing news of the Vatican’s move, how she sees it fitting into the larger history between the Vatican and U.S. women religious, and what advice she has for the current LCWR leadership.
Following is that conversation, edited for clarity and length.


At this point, what do you think about the idea of LCWR letting go of its canonical recognition and just becoming a voluntary organization?

I think there’s some wisdom to looking at the question. The reason I would be uncomfortable with the direction is it’s like giving up the power that we have.  And I don’t really want to do that. [Not when your goal is power, no.  Besides, disbanding and reforming without the approval of the Holy See would make you irrelevant.] I don’t think we have a reason to not be pontifical, to not be officially and canonically Catholic.  [I don’t think we have a reason not to be… hmmm.]
But at the same time, if we were to really do a discernment on this to decide if it’s more harmful to continue as a pontifical organization or not, we may say it is — that it’s taking too much energy, its taking too much time, or we’re misdirecting our energies from the service of people. [That’s one way to justify it.]
I wouldn’t not want to look at it, but I don’t find myself saying that should be our position because I think there are forces in the Vatican and the hierarchy that would be happy if we did it. I really do. [And I think you are deluded.  They would much rather have such a group functioning well and properly. But that is NOT what the state of the question reveals in the case of the LCWR.]

It’s almost like you’re saying that if you go noncanonical, you remove yourself as the thorn in the Vatican’s side.

That’s correct. That’s absolutely right. And I think that we do give up the power that we’ve had.
I’ve been in LCWR since 1970. So I’m in the organization 40 years. I’m not sure that I want it to go that quickly. I really don’t. They actually could have taken it away if they wanted to. After five years, that may be part of their plan. But who knows? [blah blah blah] Between now and then there’s much of divine intervention and divine providence that can come along.

As Sister continues to struggle to understand what is going on and to remain relevant, let me remind you of the paragraph we had about her in the post Nuns Gone Wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane:

Theresa Kane: as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 1979, she greeted Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. In her address she urged him to open all ministries of Church life to women. Her remarks made headlines around the world. Shortly after her address, she stated that “as a result of the greeting, a few congregations withdrew from the conference. Through that experience LCWR became more public; the membership gained new responsibilities.”  Today she supports women in deciding to undergo fake ordinations of women in the Catholic Church as if they were real. “The Roman Catholic women priesthood is small, highly criticized, and not going away,” she went on. “No one controls our future but ourselves.”

Ain’t she a peach?

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  1. benedetta says:

    What can come along is obedience and orthodoxy, being prolife and thinking with the Church.

  2. digdigby says:

    “No one controls our future but ourselves.” Non serviam.

  3. Rob in Maine says:

    I was home sick from work yesterday and while flipping through the channels, I think is very person was on the CBS morning show advocating for woman priests. I’m not sure as I quickly moved on.

  4. irishgirl says:

    I remember when she made her remarks to the Holy Father in 1979-disrespectful then, and disrespectful now.
    I’m glad that ‘her kind’ is on the way OUT!

  5. heway says:

    I didn’t find her ‘disrespectful’ then. She was honest and spoke her heart and mind to the Pope. [No.]
    I seems that some in the Vatican have a problem doing this – speaking honestly. I don’t believe we have ever seen the church in such disarray. We must trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and stop ‘judging’ people. Only He knows their hearts.
    If the Pope is the Pope of unity, this blog sometimes appears to be the blog of ‘gothcha’. [Gosh thanks.]

  6. i remember that incident as seen on TV. His response was to state: “It’s a long way to Tipperary?”

  7. Mrs. O says:

    This is what I thought of as I read this, and her double negatives….”Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.”
    (Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Friar’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales).
    But back to the substance, this is what they have been doing the whole time and correction is needed. Although one would hope they could get it together and stay at the table, it is telling that the seat is all about “power” to them. I will keep praying especially that it doesn’t cause division among the faithful.

  8. irishgirl says:

    @ Hieromonk Gregory: ” His response was to state: ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary?’ ”
    Meaning, ‘ There is no way, no how, that women can be ordained priests in the Catholic Church. Nada, nix, never’.
    Thanks for bringing up the Holy Father’s response to ‘sister’ Kane’s gall….deep, unmitigated gall…

  9. Glen M says:

    This extremely sad situation (which may very well end in schism) is a clear example of what can happen with disobedience. The LCWR (and others (Jesuits)) have been behaving badly for decades. Dissidence went from being a novelty to the established norm among some communities. If a parent allows their child to misbehave long enough it may be impossible to correct later. Bl. Pope JP2 should have taken action when Sister Kane publicly challenged and embarrassed him. It was not pastoral to do otherwise. Such lack of correction has probably contributed to further dissidence such as pro-choice nuns.

  10. cdnpriest says:

    “No one controls our future but ourselves.”
    Hmmm… It does not sound like there is much place for God in that equation.

  11. OrthodoxChick says:

    These poor, misguided feminists who tear down the Catholic Church and still call themselves “religious sisters” need to be educated about how highly the Catholic church, Holy Scripture, and God Himself regard women and their role in the Church (and indeed throughout Salvation History). These LCRW women are professed religious and yet they work actively and tirelessly to undermine the Church, the BRIDE of CHRIST. The entire Church herself is assigned a female gender and nature to accomplish the Lord’s work in the world. The Church does not ordain women because Jesus did not ordain women. His apostles were all men. Period. End of story. That does not mean that Jesus Himself did not value women or “discriminated” against them. Who would DARE accuse Him of such a thing?!

    We are still in the Octave of Pentecost where we just heard the account of Blessed Mother being with the apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Nowhere in the Biblical account of that story, or any other, does it say that Our Lady was protesting to become an Apostle. She is Jesus’ mother and He was always obedient to her, as He was at Cana. If she, who was born without the stain of original sin, she who Scripture tells us was filled with Grace, if she felt that a woman needed to be included among the Apostles, all she had to do was ask her Holy Son to make her (or another woman of her choosing) an apostle and out of obedience to His mother, He would have complied. She did no such thing. We can only speculate as to why. Considering all that she had personally experienced and had witnessed, and seeing how Jesus regarded her and the other women of their time who are mentioned in Scripture, especially Mary Magdalene, how could anyone who reads Scripture in the Spirit of discernment not notice the high esteem women are held in?

    It’s as basic as pondering the Incarnation. Think about it. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He did not HAVE to send His Son to earth as a mere mortal, taking on our human weakness and sin in order to accomplish our salvation. If He wanted to send The Son to the World as our Savior and Messiah, God could have chosen to just “beam” Jesus down here if He wanted to. He could have done it any way that He wanted. Scripture clearly reveals God’s Divine Will. His plan for Salvation History was not to be a distant God but to be on the most intimate level with us by becoming one of us. He loves us that much that He would come down to our level. It’s such a vivid , intimate act of Divine Humility (one that would not be His last, as we know). And He chose a WOMAN to accomplish the most vital part of His plan. He did not have to do that. The simple fact that He did so should tell us all that we need to know about how much God loves women and how highly He treasures them. The apostles, the first bishops, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, as incredibly important as they are, pale in comparison to the place afforded to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in our salvation and in the life of Jesus Himself.

    Someone please tell Sr. Kane that the LCRW needs to “really do a discernment on this”.

  12. iPadre says:

    They are “not going away”. I remember when I was ordained 20 years ago. There were a group of women at the Chrism Mass every year. They would be at the end of the Communion line, wearing purple stoles (actually scarves), and carrying books by Hans Kung, Charles Curran, Edward Schillebeeckx, yet not one, carried the Holy Bible. They no longer come to the Chrism Mass – all are gone now. I’ve not seen anyone pushing their wheel chairs down the aisle. If they are not gone by choice, they are gone by fate!

  13. Clinton says:

    It’s interesting to contrast this post with Father’s earlier post “The Future and Our Choices”.
    Fr. Kramer sees the future of the Church, while the sisters of the LCWR appear to be stuck
    gazing at their own withering navels.

    It’s my hope that after these sisters ‘do a discernment’, at least some will open their eyes and
    move to pull their congregations back from the brink. If the obtuse pride of Sr. Kane is the norm
    among these ladies though, then it appears they’d rather wed themselves to irrelevance and
    oblivion. A pity.

  14. Centristian says:


    “His response was to state: ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary?’
    Meaning, ‘ There is no way, no how, that women can be ordained priests in the Catholic Church. Nada, nix, never’.”

    I suppose it must have been what he meant, but it was a strange song lyric to make that point with, since the song speaks to the longing for his “Molly” in Tipperary of an Irishman in London. Bear in mind that the line, “it’s a long, long way to Tipperary,” is followed by the line, “but my heart’s right there.”

    How might Sister Theresa Kane, an Irish lass, have interpreted that, I wonder?

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The congregations that left LCWR went over to the other conference, the one that actually is serious about being servants of God and brides of Christ. So Sr. Kane is useful to the Church, in her way.

    (Insert “mark of Kane” joke here.)

  16. disco says:

    They really like the word ‘discernment’. Like how is “doing a discernment to decide”, different from “deciding”?

    I think people who refuse to speak plainly rarely speak the truth.

  17. SonofMonica says:

    “I think people who refuse to speak plainly rarely speak the truth.”

    disco, as a lawyer and briefly former Episcopalian, I agree 100%. So let’s take a look:

    I note the LCWR statement released today never says that the CDF’s doctrinal assessment was false; rather that it was”based on unsubstantiated accusations.” Shorthand for “you haven’t proven it.” It’s hard to take seriously, when even Commonweal admits that the doctrinal assessment was correct about the sisters’ dissent on women’s ordination and introduction of New Age practices.

    The LCWR statement goes on to criticize the CDF’s assessment for being the “result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.” This is shorthand for “we didn’t get to be involved in drafting it!” As though the method by which the report was prepared somehow invalidates its content, or as though the LCWR was supposed to be involved, logically or by right. Hmm, where have we seen this sort of thing before? Ah, yes. The Praytell-led attack on the “transparency of process” leading up to the release of the new Roman Missal. I’m sure most here got to witness Fr. Ruff’s tantrum about being left out of the process, and the screeds of his imaginary pen-pal, Xavier Rindfleisch.

    It’s the same old song and dance about coming to the table as equals and making you sit there until we get our way. If you’re not familiar with how these folks took down the Episcopal Church, pair your google of “Episcopal Church” with such terms as “listening process,” “indaba group,” and “live into the tension.”

  18. Frank H says:

    I just took a look at her address to JPII on this site:

    At least she had the decency to kneel for a blessing from him.

    There are more choice comments from her on that page….

  19. eulogos says:

    Perhaps, “It’s a long way from Tipperary” means that Sr. Kane as an Irish girl is a long way from her Irish roots, and no longer the sweetest girl anyone knows.

    Perhaps it means, “In your dreams!”

  20. JKnott says:

    Where in the lives of the saints who were mystics has the Lord ever said to any of them, “I love you for your power”? Yet He reminded His most cherished ones, “You are nothing.”

  21. Jackie L says:

    It’s always about power with these fishwrap types.

  22. Vecchio di Londra says:

    ‘Doing a discernment’: hmm.
    ‘Discernment’ is inwardly understanding what the Holy Spirit wills.
    ‘Doing a discernment’ is having a good old natter and taking a vote on what the Holy Spirit ought to do.

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    This begs the question if the LCWR would remove itself from “canonical” jurisdiction if it finds a readjustment too confining or ill-fitting.
    Then again, they would have to be self-supporting, and that is a challenge.

  24. irishgirl says:

    @ eulogos / Susan Peterson: ‘Perhaps it means, ‘in your dreams’ ‘.
    My thought exactly! Thank you!
    @ JKnott: Yes, that’s just how Our Lord spoke to His chosen mystics! I’m thinking especially of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart. He called her one time, ‘Dust and ashes, thou art!’ (I think I’m paraphrasing this, but that’s essentially what He said to her)
    He loved His consecrated spouses in religious life, but He let them know time and time again ‘Who was Boss’. And it wasn’t the mortal lady….

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