Long interview with Card Levada about the mean Vatican picking on the nuns… NOT.

My friend the nearly-ubiquitous John L Allen Jr (still alas with the Fiswrap) has a fascinating and long interview with the Prefect of the CDF Card. Levada about the LCWR and Sr Farley and “being mean to nuns”.

Must read.

Here is an excerpt:

ALLEN: You said a moment ago that this is not about “the sisters,” but LCWR. Yet looking at recent events, including the apostolic visitation of women’s orders in the States, the LCWR crackdown and the notification on Sr. Margaret Farley, many people can’t help concluding that there is a broad attack underway on nuns in America.
CARD L: I’ve read some articles along those lines, but it’s just not the case. These things take a lot of time, and they all have their own logic. For instance, we didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s go after Margaret Farley.”  [I love it.] Frankly, this came up because of an interview she gave in Ireland. She was there for a conference, and said something along the lines that Ireland ought to approve same-sex marriage. Someone in Ireland objected, asking, “Why is this sister coming from the States and pushing same-sex marriage?[This is why Fr. Z suggests that sometimes it is a good idea to write to the CDF.] We wrote to her superior and got a vague response about how she’s a wonderful person who enjoys great esteem. That’s how Margaret Farley came onto our radar screen. It had nothing to do with the LCWR. We then found [her book] Just Love, read the reviews, and the process developed from there.
I don’t see any conspiracy. All of us as Catholics have responsibilities, but especially bishops, priests and religious, to speak the good word that is the faith of the church, which is that God is revealed through Jesus Christ. We have nothing to say about the “Gospel according to Maureen Dowd,[LOL] of course, but Margaret Farley is a woman who represents the church.
If anything, [the Farley case] collaterally gives another example of why this LCWR assessment is taking place. 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.

I’ve gotta hand it to both of them. Read the whole thing!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Magisterium of Nuns, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Supertradmum says:

    Good article…but, wondering about this comment from Cardinal Levada.” For the record, let me say again this is not about a criticism of the sisters. No sister will lose her job in teaching or charitable work or hospital work as a result of this assessment, as far as I know. … This is about questions of doctrine, in response to God’s revelation, and church tradition from the time of the apostles. We take that seriously. I’ve been doing this work for seven years, and I do it willingly, because I believe in it. It’s not easy in a secular society like ours in the States, or in Europe for that matter.”

    Why can’t these heretics and apostates be fired? Some of us have been fired in the past for being too orthodox. I have proof of this in the lives of my real Catholic friends and myself.

    We need teeth in the Church behind censures. Let us see what happens at or after the conference.

  2. kab63 says:

    I have a hard time reconciling Cardinal Levada, “devoted disciple of his boss and mentor, Pope Benedict XVI”, with Archbishop Levada of the diocese of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005. The scandal at Most Holy Redeemer may be the greatest in the country, and it progressed under his watch. Seriously, I’m not trying to be smug. I don’t understand how this happened.

  3. HyacinthClare says:

    Is anybody else creeped out by the term “product identity”? What does that mean other than we have a product to sell that we want to separate in people’s minds from other, essentially equivalent products? I’m being picky. This man is speaking clearly when clarity is in very short supply.

  4. Kevin B. says:

    It sounds like his Eminence is preparing to subject the poor little nuns to… THE COMFY CHAIR!

  5. dans0622 says:

    kab63: while offering no criticism or praise of Card. Levada’s actions as a bishop or prefect, I think a difference you see in his actions reflect the various demands of two separate functions in the Church. It’s like with the Holy Father: people said “Oh, he’s such a hard-liner, only concerned with doctrine.” I suppose so, since that was his job for over 20 years. The papacy is different.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Supertradmum: Because the CDF believes in fair treatment and due process and worships Justice Himself, Mercy Himself. (Unlike the heterodox and dissidents.) Also, two wrongs don’t make a right. (Even if they make awesome schadenfreude.) Beyond that, anybody who got fired outright could escape to the lecture circuit, which doesn’t count as punishment except in a very longterm way. Repentance means you don’t get out of working it off.

    What I noticed is — that somebody Irish complained, and the CDF investigated. Sounds like we need to keep those cards and letters coming, when there’s a real orthodoxy problem and bishops or superiors don’t handle it.

  7. acardnal says:

    @kab63: I, too, was very surprised when Levada was selected to be the Prefect for the CDF when he had so many sexual abuse scandals to deal with in his diocese.

  8. Flos Carmeli says:

    The Cardinal ended on a very good note: OBEDIENCE. We are all expected to be obedient to Holy Mother Church’s teachings on Faith and Morals, but these sisters have publicly taken the VOW of Obedience to their superiors, which raises the expectations and responsibilities up to a whole new level. Also, it *should* make it easy for the good Sisters: all they have to do is obey.

    I also gladly noticed that the investigation into the case of Sr. Farley was a result of someone from Ireland complaining! We should take heart, we are not being ignored!

    It was a good interview. I do wish the interviewer had not so persistently referred to our Church as “the church” (lower-case c). Punctuation means something.

  9. NescioQuid says:

    As a lay member of the Church, I have to say thank God for institutions such as the USCCB. While I am based on the other side of the pond, I had first hand experience recently of this kind of creeping (or perhaps not creeping) dissension amongst female religious. I was shocked. One of the female religious I encountered, someone I like and still respect, echoed all kinds of ideas as damaging as the LCWR. Why was I shocked? I absolutely agree with Cardinal Levada that religious members of the Church have “a representative role as spokespersons in and for the church also have a higher responsibility”. I do believe the attribution of “higher responsibility” holds for anyone who has received more spiritual formation.

    It seems as if these religious members have jumped on the general secular bandwagon of dissolving differences between men and women. I have long noted that emancipation of women for many who call themselves “feminists” consists of largely suggesting that women should be as much like men as possible. Do not misunderstand me. As a woman, I am grateful for the right to vote, I am grateful that women have the same rights to property and education etc. And I am grateful that I could pursue an advanced education, and hold the same rights within my profession. This does not mean that I feel men and women are the same. Surely, when women have campaigned and won the right to longer maternity leave than men, we are inherently acknowledging some of the more obvious differences. Yes women can perform certain jobs as well as men, but does this mean we must go about performing them in the same way? To give you an example, Margaret Thatcher is widely acknowledged as having been very masculine. Many would argue that she needed to develop masculine qualities in order to become such a successful politician. Perhaps then. But surely, to continue thinking along these lines is antiquated and damaging to the essential dignity of all that being feminine is about. Why must feminine qualities be so submerged by this deluge of militant feminism? The more we undermine or even deny the qualities which are unique to women the more we disrespect the inherent strengths of a woman. I think there are a great many professions which women can do just as well as men, but this does not mean that men and women would or indeed should approach these roles in the same way. At the same time, I think it is completely obvious that there are some professions which lend themselves better to respective qualities that women or men have.

    While I honour and respect the priesthood, I do not understand why these nuns so devalue their own ministry to the point of saying that “it is not enough” and that they must be priests. Do they not understand how they undermine women in general by saying this?

    I have mentioned a number of practical arguments, but of course ultimately as believers, there are the very prominent issues of faith in all that has been revealed, obedience to the Magisterium, and quite obviously the virtue of humility.

  10. PostCatholic says:

    I don’t know how anyone can read the whole thing when it’s set in 13 pt Lucida italics.

  11. Dorcas says:

    Reading the comments over there is so depressing. Who are those people…so paranoid and venomous. Nothing will clarify the issue for those readers, they want to be in the dark it seems.

  12. Laura R. says:

    @HyacinthClare, I agree. I liked what Cardinal Levada had to say in this excerpt, but wonder about his use of what I assume to be advertising terminology. I think I understand what he means, but it strikes me as odd — putting the Church’s proclamation on a level with something like Coca-Cola.

  13. UncleBlobb says:

    I wonder how much of the action (finally) being advanced against Sr. Farley and the LCWR is from the fact that Papa gave us an American prefect of the CDF…. But then, the LCWR process has been coming for many years.

  14. WesleyD says:

    I laughed out loud when I read this line:

    We have nothing to say about the “Gospel according to Maureen Dowd,” of course, but Margaret Farley is a woman who represents the church.

    Clearly Cardinal Levada has a dry sense of humor….

  15. anna 6 says:

    “the Gospel according to Maureen Dowd”. I laughed too…but I kind of wish he had said something like “Mary Dowd” or “Maureen Dodd” or “Darren or Derwood”… or some other botched variation, just to annoy her.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Cardinal Levada makes perfect sense on this. If it looks like a lot of disciplinary actions are coming up at once, it’s because a lot of actions requiring disciplinary action came up at once, due to the accelerating difficulties in women’s orders.

    If they want the attention to slow down, then they have to stop….and think about what they’re doing that’s setting things off, and then give it time to get through the process. It’s all very simple.

Comments are closed.