Bp. Blair about the LCWR

You will recall that Sr. Pat Farrell, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns) was interviewed on the liberal radio network NPR.  NPR followed up with an interview of one of the bishops who are overseeing the overhauling of the LCWR, His Excellency Most Rev. Leonard Blair, Bishop of Toledo, Ohio.

In the interview, which you can hear at the site of NPR, HERE.

Interview Highlights

BISHOP LEONARD BLAIR: Well, I think it is very striking when it’s very clear to everyone inside and outside the church that the dignity – the threats to the dignity and rights of the human person from conception until natural death is so much under attack. And we’re – you know, even popes like Pope John Paul have talked about it as one of the great moral issues of our time.

And the church has been so strong in defending that right to life, you know, it seems that one would expect the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to stand up and be counted in upholding this right and working for its defense.

And the reality is that there’s nothing really said by the Leadership Conference on this issue. They have had statements on things like human trafficking and immigration, which are wonderful things, you know. Those kind of things should be addressed. They’ve had statements on ecology and climate change, militarization of space, nuclear weapons, but nothing on the issue of abortion and the importance of upholding the right to life.  [Exactly.]

On the LCWR not taking a hard-line stance on abortion

“I recall something that Pope John Paul II said: He said that all other human rights are false and illusory. If the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and condition of all personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination … to relativize or say, well the right to life of an unborn child is a preoccupation with fetuses [Which is what the LCWR types do.] or [it is] relative in its importance, I cannot agree with that, and I don’t think that represents the church’s teaching and the focus of our energies in trying to deal with this great moral issue.”  [Abortion is NOT a women’s issue.  It is a human rights issue.]


On the dialogue that the LCWR would like to have with the Vatican

If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.”


BLAIR: Well, I think another great issue of our society today is the defense of the God-given institution of marriage between one man and one woman. And I think everybody knows this is at the front line of moral issues in our country today. And so what we would imagine happening for the organization of Catholic religious women would be that they would be front and center in speaking on behalf of this fundamental teaching. And yet we don’t find that.

And this raises another important point, I think, that no one is questioning the compassionate, pastoral care that has to be given to people – for example, people who have a homosexual inclination. And I think sometimes there’s a disservice done when it’s made to sound as if the church condemns homosexuals, and that is not the case.

The bishops in the United States have written a guide for pastoral care of people with a homosexual inclination. So we want to extend that care to everyone, and we want to treat everyone with dignity and respect. But that’s very different than insisting, then, on the claims of a gay lifestyle or gay culture and trying to undermine the institution of marriage.

And that’s something where I think Catholics would reasonably expect that a leadership group of women religious would, you know, subscribe to that and want to be part of that effort.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Emanations from Penumbras, Linking Back, Magisterium of Nuns, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Women Religious and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. markomalley says:

    Not a bad interview at all. In all honesty, though, I did a double take on it: “Is this the same Bishop Blair who…” ?

    I then noticed the lack of an “e” at the end of his name. I wonder how many other casual observers will make the same mistake.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    This is excellent and one wonders why there are not more bishops saying the same thing.

  3. Wouldn’t be grand if the LCWR were put under the authority and direction of the SSPX? A win win for everyone.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Interdict would be better.

  5. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “The bishops in the United States have written a guide for pastoral care of people with a homosexual inclination.”

    Is his excellency speaking of “Always Our Children”? Boy, I hope not. :( Most who read this blog know the story of that document.

    It was not voted on by the body of bishops at the time it was released. Rather, it was put together by a sub-committee – and, gee, don’t they have a great track record in the USCCB?

    Otherwise, his comments are fantastic.


  6. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I heard the interview. Hard to justify tagging NPR as “liberal” when it frequently presents respectful and balanced interviews like this from all across the ideological spectrum. Just because a particular media is thoughtful and intelligent does not mean it is “liberal.”

    It still seems somewhat Kafkaesque to me for a person or organization to be subject to reprisals not for what they are saying but for what they are not saying.

    As always, Terry Gross conducted a very fine interview.

  7. acardnal says:

    There are sins of commission and omission. . . .

  8. wmeyer says:

    frjim4321: Not hard at all to justify tagging NPR as Liberal, which is what they have always been, and which colors most of what passes for reportage on their programs.

  9. frjim4321 says:

    wmeyer: I guess it is a matter of the perspective of the beholder.

  10. wmeyer says:

    frjim4321: Yes, I prefer honest journalism (a very nearly extinct thing) to polemics and selective presentation. Both of the latter, though always couched in such civilized tones, I find in abundance on NPR.

  11. Indulgentiam says:

    Frjim4321– “It still seems somewhat Kafkaesque to me for a person or organization to be subject to reprisals not for what they are saying but for what they are not saying.”

    Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.” 
    –Pope St. Felix III

  12. Mrs. O says:

    Regarding documents on homosexuality – I think fair criticism is warranted for Always Our Children. What specifically is wrong with the newest released in 06? I have read it. I don’t remember anything that was incorrect. A guide is just that – a guide. I don’t think it goes into detail in how to deal with those who want to be considered a homosexual couple and how to respond to them and bring them around. That reigns in prudential judgement in how they will address it.

    I am glad he stopped the spin on the claim that they want dialogue.

  13. Frank H says:

    Despite the liberal leanings of most NPR programming, I find much of it quite interesting, and have particularly enjoyed Terry Gross’s wide range of guests over the years. She is usually quite a good interviewer, but in this one with Bp. Blair, there were points during which she sounded almost tongue-tied. My impression was that, on a couple of questions, she just couldn’t put aside her sense of solidarity with Sr. Farrell and the nuns to be able to phrase her questions clearly.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    … there were points during which she sounded almost tongue-tied …

    I think she was trying to point up some of the inconsistencies without coming off like she was badgering him.

  15. teomatteo says:

    “….but why would women have, want to have positions of leadership in the world but be subservient in the church?”
    This really seemed like a ambush question. Did the interviewer ask the nun if she felt subservient? or did she ask the nun if she wanted to be a priest so as to have power? Terry G. did backtrack on the use of word subservient after the good Bishop challenged her on it. To me that question of hers kinda lets her true opinion come thru. But i could be wrong in this reading of Terry’s personal question.

  16. PostCatholic says:

    I think Terry Gross did a good job of being respectful to the bishop and in pushing him for continued depth to his explanations, from the place of the wide majority of mainstream American culture which does think Catholicism has a misogynistic and anachronistic view of society and modern values.

    I think the bishop for his part spoke very articulately about why he disagreed with Farrell and with the mainstream viewpoint, and he shied away from nothing and soft-pedaled nowhere. I thought he was entirely wrong on most of that, of course, but he wasn’t cowardly about stating his positions, and the same definitely can’t be said for Farrell who kept trying hard to nuance her statements in ways that made them unintelligible. It was tense listening to her because she wouldn’t be forthright about what she wanted to say; it was tense listening to Blair because he was so forthright. All in all, I give Gross high marks for this respectful, insightful and worthwhile interview.I can’t think of someone I feel could have done better with journalistic integrity and skill in a long-form interview, including most of NPR’s other talk show hosts.

  17. Angie Mcs says:

    I’m totally sick of hearing about these Nuns on their bus. I understand they have to be dealt with but enough is enough. Every week in church I see Nuns and Sisters in their various habits. They are often young, serene and their faces glow with a beautiful love for the Lord. They look happy and content.

    It’s a horrible waste that these Bus sisters are getting so much attention, and I’m glad that NPR addressed this issues from both sides. The public doesn’t know the difference so perhaps a light will turn on in someone’s head after this – but the sixties are over, ladies, you aren’t 18 anymore and burning your bras. You have to take responsibility for your actions and your words. And as long as your ideas counteract so sharply with the Church’s, all your in -your -face screaming, foot stomping, and victimization will get you nowhere. Just get back on the bus and keep going west.

    And I will go to confession for that statement.

  18. AvantiBev says:

    “Well, I think another great issue of our society today is the defense of the God-given institution of marriage between one man and one woman. And I think everybody knows this is at the front line of moral issues in our country today. And so what we would imagine happening for the organization of Catholic religious women would be that they would be front and center in speaking on behalf of this fundamental teaching. And yet we don’t find that.”

    ON THE FRONT LINE that the Bishop spoke of is Dan Cathy. Here in Chi town, the words of a Baptist business owner, Dan Cathy, speaking in a Baptist publication have earned Chick-fil-A a condemnation and “no vacancy” warning from our Mayor and 1st ward alderman Proco Joe Moreno. Mr. Cathy spoke to the interviewer about the family owned businessmen of Chick-fil-A thanking God for their wives, for their Christian faith and then saying that we of this era are “prideful and arrogant” to want to change the God given laws and the definition of man-woman marriage. This means his business already “banned in Boston” by Mayor Menino (it truly pains me to say the first Italo-American mayor of bean town), is not welcome in our bankrupt, bleeding, dying and dying for jobs city!!!

    Freedom of religion, Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of association have all been despised by the Left. They also would rather see no new jobs than allow a Christian –who spoke to a Christian publication expressing non PC thoughts — come here and build a store.

    On the ecumenical upside, I am not surprised to learn that I have more in common (and in common sense) with Baptist Mr. Cathy than a bus full of kumbaya katholic “religious” sisters.

  19. AvantiBev says:

    St. Anne pray for us on this your feast day! Intercede for our families here in the States and in the West.

  20. fvhale says:

    Cheers for Bp. Blair!

    I find this “dialogue” between Sr. Farrell and Bp. Blair is carried out by the medium of NPR interviews. God can use all things.

    I have also recently been pondering on the keynote speaker for the imminent LCWR Assembly in St. Louis, Barbara Marx Hubbard. Since I will not be at the Assembly, I found an interview with her (from 2010) on Youtube, of about 7.5 minutes length. It is enough time for her to present her message.


    This seems quite consistent with what is on her foundation website.

    She speaks of “great avatars: Buddha, Jesus…” and of “Christ consciousness or Buddha consciousness,” and the evolution of homo sapiens and the coming noosphere, brought to us by “great avatars, without benefit of clergy, not a religion.” Typical New Age rambling.

    Then she says that she got her “faith from Teilhard de Chardin…’Phenomenon of Man.'”

    No mention of God, as Creator in her evolution. Neither any mention of Jesus as Redeemer. I wonder if she actually read Chardin’s “Phenomenon of Man” or just a few quotations, as uses him to clothe herself in some pseudo-Christian legitimacy.

    I mean, here is a quote from “Phenomenon of Man” (Harper Perennial Modern Thought edition, 2008):

    p. 293-294: “As early as in St. Paul and St. John we read that to create, to fulfil and to purify the world is, for God, to unify it by uniting it organically with himself. How does he unify it? By partially immersing himself in thing, by becoming ‘element’, and then, from this point of vantage in the heart of matter assuming the control and leadership of what we now call evolution. Christ, principle of universal vitality because sprung up as man among men, put himself in that position (maintained ever since) to subdue under himself, to purify, to direct and superanimate the general ascent of consciousnesses into which he inserted himself. By a perennial act of communion and sublimation, he aggregates to himself the total psychism of the earth. And when he has gathered everything together and transformed everything, he will close in upon himself and his conquests, thereby rejoining, in a final gesture, the divine focus he has never left. Then, as St. Paul tells us, God shall be all in all….God, the Centre of centers…In that final vision the Christian dogma culminates.”

    Chardin writes that Christianity, including its rites, hierarchy and doctrine, is the unique way, unlike all other religions, in which man’s ultimate end can be reached.

    His book concludes, “In one manner or another it still remains true that, even in the view of the mere biologist, the human epic resembles nothing so much as a way of the Cross.”

    Somehow, although she might make a passing reference to “Phenomenon of Man,” as the source of her “faith,” I fear that what she will present will be Godless, Christless and faithless.

    Why would she be the keynote speaker?

  21. BLB Oregon says:

    He’s saying there is a not a “don’t ask, don’t tell” place in the Church where people representing the Church can fail to advocate for the most basic teachings of Christianity because of all the other great work they do. Yet that is what I hear, “Oh, how can the Church dare correct these people, considering all the good they do?” Good heavens, as if any religious sister or brother couldn’t answer that one correctly ten times out of ten, when the silence concerned something they could recognize as damaging to the truth.

    There aren’t enough works of charity to earn someone the right to be silent or to be complicit with evil. This is just common sense. I don’t think anyone in religious life thinks otherwise.

  22. Dennis says:

    As a resident of the Diocese of Toledo, I feel very blessed to have Bishop Blair as our shepherd. In all of my encounters and discussions with him (I have had many being a former seminarian), he has always had a calm disposition while remaining strong in defending the Church. While no-one alive is perfect, I wish more people had his patience, compassion, and strength.

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    I did not hear the interview. NPR is decidedly “left” and yet people hear it and “hear” mainstream or centrist viewpoints. All depends on your perspective for sure. I like NPR at times. I love discussions or interviews that are actual conversations, not verbal free for alls, which I dislike. I often wonder why conservative radio can’t duplicate that, since so many listeners do seem to appreciate it. We’ve got good content, but the pace, the screaming, the interruptions. It’s like a hockey game, at times, a conversation breaks out.

    Looking at the transcript of what was said by the good Bishop, it seems an adequate counter to the LCWR. I yearn for “fire in the belly” types of rebuttals. There is room (and need!) for all types of responses, and this one is good. We’ve got to walk before we can run, and just getting people on board is where we are. Speaking out on abortion and traditional marriage has become fairly rare, hasn’t it. Sad comment on where we are. So this is a good start.
    It still sounds passive. Changing hearts and minds is up to the Good Lord, but our part is to present a strong case for our beliefs, in as clear, no-nonsense, and direct a way as we can. People understand having the courage and confidence of our convictions. People who are afraid of repercussions or being misunderstood and possibly yelled at can’t put that out. It’s not easy. I know, but the Bishops are our quarterbacks, linebackers, linemen, receivers, and running backs, all rolled into one. I guess we should pray for them even more.

  24. Johnno says:

    It’s a lot more than just them not ‘talking about’ abortion, homosexuality, Church teachings etc.

    They are active heretics pushing pro-abortion views, pro-homosexual views, pro-contraceptive views, and equating other false religions and religious figures with Christ. Just read and listen to them! They’re not hiding it!

    All this ‘dialoguing’ and ‘softening of words and phrases’ has been going on for what? 10 years now? How’s that worked out? Nothing will change at this rate, and evil will continue to grow.

  25. But Father! says:

    I’m a little late to the combox here but..

    I awaited this interview with much nervousness considering the mind numbing,
    disgusting drivel that Bishop Blair was given to rebut. I thought the bishop did well.

    There is a curious silence in the Catholic and Catholyc blogosphere on the interview.
    I can understand why the dissidents are silent since I felt the bishop knocked some
    balls out of the park (they were very slow pitches to be sure such that any intelligent
    Catholic could have anticipated them).

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