The other day in the National Catholic Register, I read a piece about the upcoming annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR – a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns). The writer, Ann Carey, is all over this topic. She has commanding knowledge of the LCWR types. Check out her fine book Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Communities.
In her NCReg piece, which you should read in full, there is this interesting bit (my emphases and comments):
The LCWR board responded to the mandate in a June 1 press release, complaining that the assessment “was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.”
[LCWR Pres.] Sister Pat said Archbishop Sartain [appointed by the CDF to over see the LCWR’s overhauling…] will not attend the assembly, but the LCWR will inform him of any decision the assembly reaches before that information is released to the press.
According to Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the bishops’ conference, [NB:] Archbishop Sartain offered to come to the assembly, but he was told his presence “would not be helpful.” [Get that? Can you imagine? But they don’t want him there because they are going to dialogue about dialoguing. I, by the way, am still waiting for my invitation.]
One reporter referred to a July 24 NPR interview with Bishop Blair that was a follow-up to the Sister Pat interview. In that interview, Bishop Blair was asked about Sister Pat’s wish to dialogue on the issues in the mandate. He had replied that if the LCWR wanted to negotiate the doctrines of the Church that was not the kind of discussion the Holy See envisioned. The reporter asked Sister Pat if that was an accurate representation of the LCWR position, and she replied:
“I would also say that there are very few doctrines in the Church that are not discussable, that are absolutely infallible. [?!?] And I think those kinds of commentaries [the NPR interviews] are a reflection of a slightly different perspective that we have on obedience.
“And as I have stated in other interviews, one of our concerns is that questioning is seen as defiance, and that’s not healthy for our Church, nor is it our intention. And that our sense of our own fidelity [Our Fidelity – Our Selves] means that we continue raising and responding to questions, according to our own consciences and according to new information and questions that arise in our day.” [Tota mea!]
Sister Pat told the press conference: “The one thing that I think we’ve constantly communicated is that we … in however we respond to this [CDF mandate], we want to help create a safe and respectful environment, [There’s that “safe” BS again. This is feminist code language gleaned from the Andrea Dworkin types.] where Church leaders and grassroots Catholics can raise questions openly and search together for truth freely to the very complex issues of our time.
“Anything that we can do in the way that we respond to this that could contribute to the climate of open and deeper dialogue in the Church is one of our greatest hopes.” [And the buzz words just pile up higher and higher and higher.]
What a farce this assembly is.
Friends, no matter what the nuns claim, this whole mess with the CDF and American bishops is not about bishops having power over nuns, or men being over women.
The problem is that the LCWR types are “moving beyond Jesus”. They are drifting out Christianity.
That looks like hyperbole when I state it this starkly, but this is really where they are going.
I don’t think these nuns even realize where they are going.
When you come right down to it, their problem is – ironically – with the documents of Vatican II! They really have a problem with Lumen gentium on the constitution of the Church. They don’t know who the Church is and who they are in the Church. They no longer understand what consecrated life is (they think they are “prophetic” and therefore are allowed to “question” any teaching and are free from the “institutional” Church and hierarchy) and they have forgotten who their Lord is (they are moving beyond Jesus).
And their real enemy is Vatican II. They have more problems with Vatican II than the Lefevbrists have. We will probably reach an accord with the SSPX before the LCWR is squared away.
I know where they are going. The LCWR gals are on a train, zooming down the track straight toward a canyon, and the bridge is out.
I think you’re perfectly correct.
Well, I should say, except for the last paragraph. But I do agree that the LCWR has moved beyond the theologies of the Catholic Church. I don’t the bridge is out nor is there a canyon. What I wonder now is how representative they are of the American Catholic laity.
We will probably reach an accord with the SSPX before the LCWR is squared away.
The fact that heretics like these don’t need an “accord” with Rome is one of the reasons why there is not yet an accord with the SSPX.
How can both groups possibly exist in the same Church? The truth is, they don’t, whatever the paperwork says. [The Church hasn’t actually made that determination yet. I don’t think you should either.]
I think that it is important that we keep in mind that although this organization purports “represent” 80% of nuns in this country, these orders have less than 20% of new vocations. In short order the bioloical solution will take care of this problem. This is an important “talking point” for the times you get people coming up to you exasperated because “The Pope is attacking the American nuns.”
This is serious. Closing the door to the established hierarchy of the Church is surely a sign not only of rebellion but of intransigence and heresy. Once a group rejects hierachical authority, “the rest is history” as they say. Luther, Zwingli, Knox, Cramner, Hus, all shut doors.
God forgive them and I hope they do not know what they are doing, but sadly, I think they do know and this is consistent with years of “I shall not serve.”
Of course, it would be politically incorrect to excommunicate these nuns, as then they can play the victim card. It is they who have moved away from Rome, not Rome which has moved away from them.
Sr. Pat. … Sr. Mary Ann Walsh. Do the names themselves not indicate a problem? The maintenance of secular identity. The maintenance of a surname by a woman who is “betrothed, mystically to Christ” (CCC 923) seems to me a red flag.
wmeyer, my aunt who is a nun dropped her nun-name in the 1970s. This happened very quickly and it was hard for us in colleges and schools, as we had to switch from Sister Ignatius to Sister Debbie in a hurry. I have stories of these name changes and they are all for the worse, not better.
Can you imagine, Sister John Therese to Sister Maggie, or Sister Mary Magdalene to Sister Diane? Or Sister Sebastian to Sister Terry. I mean, really.
One has to be versed in the language of “double speak” to understand what the LCWR types say. What I can’t understand is how these women, who probably have more than average intelligence, can believe the stuff they spew forth. Most difficult of all to believe is how any one of them can turn her back on the beautiful gift of a vocation to religious life.
Well, Supertradmum, when I read Sr. Pat…. I can’t help thinking of the SNL androgynous character Pat.
I’m more interested in seeing how the Vatican responds when all is said and done. After… what? 10 years of dialoguing? Will these apostate nuns finally be condemned? [Somewhat against worldly reason, I hope for their conversion.]
One can only pray the Bishop’s presence “would not be helpful” because they want an environment where they can work out their anger toward him and then double back without having to save face afterward.
There are times most of us feel the need to vent out of earshot of the person we’re angry with before we can approach them and work out our differences. Dear God, please let this be the situation here.
I think Cardinal Levada nicely summed up this “dialogue” when he referred to it as a “dialogue of the deaf.” The sisters don’t get it and won’t ever get it because they do not choose to do so.
Fr Z wrote, “The LCWR gals are on a train, zooming down the track straight toward a canyon, and the bridge is out.”
And, all that’s left to say to them is, “Bye, bye!” In sign language, perhaps?
Perhaps His Excellency’s interpretive lens for the sisters’ murky mucky statement should be St. Pius X’s encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis. That would clarify it for all of us, I think.
Ann Carey was recently interviewed on EWTN’s “Bookmark” show. She said she has revised her book to incorporate recent developments and a new edition is supposed to be coming out the Fall from Our Sunday Visitor Press.
You can listen to her EWTN interview here. It is listed as Program 2: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/frmselecrprog.asp?seriesID=6132&T1=bookmark
Donna Steichen has also written on feminism in the Church which she documents in her book “Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism” published by Ignatius Press.
oops , wmeyer, for your comment a follow-up. But remember, in some orders the women took male saints names and some of the going back to baptismal names was rebellion against that. Sigh…toddlers.
I think we all know what they mean by a ‘safe’ environment. One where their lack of loyalty will not be mentioned, where their disobedience will not be called by its name, and where their rebellion will be called by a nice euphemism. They don’t want ‘dialogue’ – they want agreement to their areas of infallibility – which, unlike the Pope’s, cover everything.
Supertradmum, a difference without a distinction? Whatever the reason, the result seems to me to be a change in identity which is consistent with their current battle against the authority of the Church.
jessicahoff: Well said!
But of course, the problem has been known to manifest in bishops, as well.
They need a visitation by Pope Clement XIV
If he has been placed in direct authority over them, I do not understand his. “offer” to attend. I have never had a boss ask if I would like his attendance at meetings. Nevertheless, knowing that there are politics of a sort involved, I think it is time for the faithful Sisters who are members of the congregations to invite the Bishop themselves.
Note that Archbishop Carlson of St. Louis will be giving the opening greeting to the LCWR assembly. See the archdiocesan newspaper, the St. Louis Review:
What would be nice to see…
From: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Vatican
To: President and all LCWR attendees, St. Louis, MO
Date: August 7, 2012
You’re done. Please turn off the lights on your way out.
Das ist alles,
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller
They are drifting out Christianity.
Warp speed, warp 9 or better,
totally warped for that matter ;>)
I’m afraid I have to disagree with the view that it was a bad thing for nuns to revert to their own names; although I would add that it should have been done within certain boundaries. As a girl growing up in the 1950s I remember feeling sad for the nuns who had male names because it seemed as if for some reason the Church was trying to downplay the fact they were women. Of course some of the Sisters had female names and and I used to think they were the lucky ones and wondered if the ones who got male names were being punished for being too female or something. I know the nuns received the names of Saints but most of them had been named after Saints anyway so why take away a name like Teresa (after St. Teresa of Avila) to name her Timothy (after that Saint)?
The notion that nuns should change their names because they’re brides of Christ doesn’t really make sense either because how many brides change their first name when they get married?
Having said that, I can understand that there needs to be certain limits to the names in the sense that they should be after a recognized Saint of the Church (including their female derivations, so Patricia is okay because it’s after St. Patrick). If the women don’t have Saints’ names (Madison doesn’t cut it) they should be allowed to choose the name of a female Saint that they have a devotion to (with the approval of the order, of course). Also, no nicknames so no Sr. Pat. I’ll be happy to add that if any woman wants to take the name of a male Saint she should be allowed to do so but I don’t think a male identity should be imposed on a woman by the Church.
I realize not everyone will agree with this – but I think there’s a tendency to paint the pre-Vatican II world as perfect in every way and I don’t think that was true. There was a reason the Council was held and that reason was that some of these disciplines had passed their by-sale-date and needed to be looked at with fresh eyes to see what their relevance was. I remember how joyful the Sisters were at getting their own names back and I don’t understand why we belittle them for that. After all, they weren’t marching or protesting about it (unlike today) – that right was given to them by the heads of their orders who felt they were responding in an appropriate way to the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council. And perhaps they were.
“I would also say that there are very few doctrines in the Church that are not discussable, that are absolutely infallible. ”
Wow. She’s a protestant; she needs to move on to the Episcopalians. They’ll welcome her with open arms and a parade.
Are they zooming down the track, or are they already just smoke rising from wreckage?
Canonically, what happens to their property once they have “drifted away?’ [Good question. Canonists and civil lawyers have to work on this. Two years ago Card. Burke held a conference on church property for lawyers and canonists. But something has to be done.] That is the real issue, since so many of them seem past reclamation. I expect there has already been some “alienation of property” through the incorporation of trusts, foundations, et c. If the Church does not secure these assets which are the legacy of people who gave in good faith for purposes now being betrayed, the last sister in each of these fading Orders will be rich indeed. [Turn out the light, Sister.]
Nice combo: unorthodox and arrogant. And there were those that questioned the appropriateness of the Holy See’s decision. Sheesh
gracie, the reason for the new name is not comparable to that of a married woman. The new name was a name of “religion”, which meant that the old person had died and a new person was coming into being. It represented death to the world, the flesh and the devil. It was a symbol of the acceptance of being a “sign of contradiction in the world”. It was a badge of honor, like being called Lt-Col Jensen instead of Sam.
We do the same thing in taking a Confirmation Name, but the teaching has gone by the wayside.
The married woman takes her husband’s name to show that two become one flesh, which is the sacrament of marriage. Many modern women do not do this, as in my own immediate family where some of the women kept their maiden names, for “professional” reasons.
Names are symbolic and if I were going into a convent I would desire a name change to show the world and the Church that I am no longer who I was but being made into something different. How beautiful and how sublime…..if the old name can be incorporated, fine, but the new name is death to self, to the old person.
May I add that the new name also represented a break with the family, so that no one could claim material hierarchies, such as a title or status. All the sisters and nuns were therefore created anew, separated from their natural birth and being reborn into their religious orders.
I think this is so beautiful…Look at Edith Stein, who was Husserl’s best pupil and a genius in the academic world of Phenomenology. As Sister Benedicta of the Cross, she died to her old self and became someone new. And, she died as her name said, of the Cross. How wonderful…
gracie, many in the Bible were given new names to mark a spiritual change – Abram to Abraham, for instance, or Jacob to Israel. I thought and prayed about my new name for Confirmation a long time. It was extremely meaningful to me to take that new name. The thought of turning back to a status of bearing just my original name would be like rejecting the transformation my new name marked. I can’t even imagine it.
Was it the case that the sisters’ names were imposed upon them? I just assumed they chose their own.
Uncounted men, outside of religion, were given saints names at birth in old Europe: Jean Marie, in French, comes to mind. I should think that, historically, it is we who are in the minority for being squeamish.
The nuns clearly should have invited Archbishop Sartain in the spirit of hospitality, if nothing else. However, the Abp. should not have invited himself. [Noooo.]
Fr., you mentioned Andrea Dworkin in your critique. If there was ever a messed-chick, it was Andrea. I am assuming you are referring to her hatred of all orthodox religions, stay-at-home moms, and patriarchies.
I sincerely hope the nuns and sisters have not read her trash or followed her antics. She was bi-sexual, openly so, and a hater of anything remotely “right-wing”. She was involved at one time in the anarchist movements of Europe. She managed to irritate both the Right and the Left. If there is a connection, and you have pointed this out, it is in her absolute hatred of any role of a woman which supposedly subordinates her to a man, such as in traditional marriage.
In fact, I have wondered if the nuns and sisters we have been examining here today believe that the lgtb movement will end patriarchal religion. I think the support of homosexuals, lesbians, etc by the LCWR is underlined by hatred of real men and the patriarchal Church, which God invented, by the way, through the Old and New Testament.
There must be this connection. Andrea Dworkin was so mixed up and confused about morality, I sincerely hope she is not on the reading list for these sisters and nuns.
PA Mom touched on this already…
Archbishop Sartain tried the diplomatic approach; i.e., he gave the LCWR an opportunity to retain some dignity, but alas it didn’t work. Clearly, he sees a need (a duty, even) to be there. Is there any reason he should refrain from simply announcing his intention to be present? Poor manners, BTW, doesn’t seem to me to be one of them.
“Was it the case that the sisters’ names were imposed upon them? I just assumed they chose their own.”
All the nuns I knew had their names imposed on them. In other words, the nuns first learned what their new names would be on the day they professed their final vows when whoever was doing the ceremony declared to them what their new names would be. They didn’t choose their own names; the names were chosen for them. It was the luck of the draw what you got. I’m sorry but I can’t see the point of wiping out one’s Baptismal name when becoming a nun. Priests also die to the world when they profess their final vows so by that logic their names should be changed too.
(My great Aunt Bessie was a nun from way back (1906) and she loved being a nun except for the name they gave her: Stanislaus. She used to joke it was her cross to bear because she couldn’t work up any connection to the guy.)
The more I think about it, this story says more about the state of the episcopacy than it does about the LCWR.
The latter, in the immortal words of Dennis Green, “are who we thought they were.” Of course they don’t want the Archbishop there! Most kids don’t want their fathers in the room when they’re plotting with one another how best to circumvent the rules of the house.
And Archbishop Sartain is the father in this story, is he not? And not only that, he is the father of some very troubled children who have already demonstrated a lack of sound judgment and a great need for guidance, no? So, why even make the rather weak “offer” to attend in the first place? Why not simply announce the firm intention of being there for the good of all concerned? Wouldn’t that have been more in keeping with the way responsible men father their children?
I am sorry to say, the Archbishop’s approach is neither new nor surprising. The Church has lacked shepherds who are willing to rule as strong fathers; leading the way with broad shoulders and a healthy balance of love and firmness for decades now.
And we wonder the House of God is in turmoil.
As a resident of St. Louis I’m conflicted about Archbishop Carlson attending this meeting. My initial reaction to hearing the news was one of anger and thinking the Archdiocese is not getting any more of my money! After a little while to think about it I still don’t see how the Archbishop can be doing anything but lending legitimacy to dissidents.
From the St. Louis Review article: “The archbishop said he understands some local Catholics might be upset that the assembly is being held in St. Louis and perhaps be confused by some of the content to be covered. However, he noted that his “style for 42 years as a priest and 28 years as a bishop has been one of dialogue. I find that an effective way to be a man of the Church and to live out the Gospel.””
Is this “dialogue” not playing in to the hands of the liberals who have used “dialogue” to distort the faith for decades? My hope is that he gives a strong message about fidelity to Christ and His Church and invites the “sisters” to conversion.
We do the same thing in taking a Confirmation Name, but the teaching has gone by the wayside.
Not really, the candidate is still confirmed by name and is encouraged to utilize the baptismal name due to the extremely close and direct relationship between the two sacraments.
Archbishop Sartain tried the diplomatic approach; i.e., he gave the LCWR an opportunity to retain some dignity, …
I don’t think I buy that. It was clear that this meeting was going to be about the LCWR determining its course of action following the reprisals recently imposed up on them. It was disingenuous for the bishop to give the impression of assuming he would or should be welcome. Clearly there would be no benefit to his presence.
Further, Sartain should be recusing himself anyway, he has a conflict of interest, a sister who is a member of a religious order represented by the other, much smaller, parallel organization.
Fr Jim – Give me a break. The Archbishop is not a Supreme Court justice. There is no conflict of interest in the Church. The only interest is fidelity to Christ. Your comment, as are all of your comments, is reflective of a typical liberal who sees the Church through the lens of politics. Who cares if the CMSWR is “much smaller” now? The LCWR are all going to be dead soon anyway. The CMSWR congregations have the overwhelming majority of new vocations but you know that. Also, it’s Archbishop Sartain. If you want to be called Father I would think you would have the respect to refer to the Archbishop by his title and not just his last name.
[Somewhat against worldly reason, I hope for their conversion.]
I would hope so as well, but at the rate we’re going and the attitude the Church has taken thus far, the soft approach has not worked to convert them, only to embolden them that they somehow have the moral high ground. I’m not suggesting the hard approach will convert them either, these are of the sort whose will I believe will not change and are unwilling to see logic. Their hearts are hardened. Eventually after years of enslaving those who looked up to them, the time comes for the harsh response of plagues against Egypt and there will be casualties. In believing that the enemy will all convert and there’ll be some happy ending for every single one, is to believe we’re going to accomplish something even Christ could not do…
Right now we’re only going around in circles. The Vatican says one thing. The sisters say another. Both sides are talking about completely different things! The Vatican tries to point out that it is the LCWR not preaching or upholding Catholic morality. Then the LCWR repeats the same refrain and chorus that the Vatican is preventing them from helping the poor and is discouraging ‘dialogue’ and they just can’t understand what’s wrong with that… and this keeps going on and on like an endless waltz… One minute they’re playing their reverse card, and the other side is going to play their reverse card. And they’re going to keep playing their reverse cards until somebody gets Uno.
This is a vicious endless loop the Church is stuck in. It’s time to break the cycle. It hasn’t served us and the stalling has only served to lose more and more souls and demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Church is powerless to do anything ,that’s even if the Catholic Church can properly be recognized anymore from the fractured face of Catholicism around it all claiming to be the actual thing. If this isn’t dealt with swiftly, I fear that for the sake of saving a few peas in the LCWR, like the monkey in Aesop’s fable, we’re losing handfuls of other peas in the process. Better to cut them off, place them outside the walls of the city, restructure with the remaining faithful we have left within, and then seek to convert them again together with everyone else under the same category.
I have also wondered what happens to the properties if they continue on this path. Particularly, I wonder about the numerous older schools then run. At my old high school, the sisters claim themselves to be owners and operators. Seems they have been preparing.
Why is it so surprising/upsetting that this group declined to have Abp Sartain present as they discussed in body their continuing response to the concerns of Rome (he being Rome’s delegate in the particular matter)? Would it be different if SSPX declined the offer of Rome’s delegate to be present as they discussed their response to Rome’s concerns (in closed session)?
Regarding women religious and names… Part of the change (rightly or wrongly) was involved in the changes of the time regarding Sisters working (or studying at university level) and being tracked by social security numbers and legal names. It became an issue of having two identities.
Most convents, monasteries, and mother-houses belong to the orders, not to dioceses and this has been the case for a long time, longer than my entire life and indeed in Europe for over a thousand years in some cases.
In America, dioceses may have originally given land or rented land to orders of nuns and sisters, but over the years this changed. I know that in my diocese, which had a huge lawsuit for sex crimes, that the nuns’ and sisters’ properties could not be plundered to pay for the priests’ settlements. I am sure most orders elsewhere own their places and even colleges, as was the case in girls’ schools and colleges. So, it is not an issue.
As to names, most could not choose their own, which again, is dying to self. I do not see this as a bad thing. In some orders even today one gives a list of three names and the superiors chooses. She may even choose one not on the list. The same is true for Benedictine orders of monks in England, for example. The abbess or abbot pray about the new name. This is an old and honored custom and should not be denigrated. It is a spiritual sign of new life and dying to the old, as I said above. As to two identities, that is not the case, as one actually changes the name legally, as I know from having nuns in the family. Religious names are still accepted for driver’s licenses and such. The religious name becomes the legal name, just as a married woman changes her name legally when married. And, perhaps back again when divorced and annulled in some cases.
I think it is cynical to think these nuns and sisters have all of the sudden bought their own property. Just as male orders own their property, so to do orders of nuns and this has been the case since the middle ages in England, for example, until the horrible Protestant stealing of property. Many monasteries of women were not only started by women but owned by the nuns.
If you want to get invited, you first need to have your ears pierced, and find a double knit
pant-suit to wear. You might also want to find a groovy lapel pin while your at it. Then shorten your name to Johnnie, and you just might make it in.
By the way, I know that these names were actually the names of real sisters: Ascelina and Maxelinda! Thank God they did not shorten their names or else we would have had Sister Ass and Sister Max!
When I was growing up, Father John Doe would have been referred to as Father Doe, not Father John. So the shift from Sister Francis Xavier to Sister Debbie didn’t strike me as all that weird, not when the priests were doing the same thing.
The downside? My four year old son happens to have the same first name as our parish priest. When I asked my four year old, “Would you like to be a priest someday?” he replied, “There is already a Father D______.”
So there you have it, the reason for the vocations crisis. We have an unusual last name, so I know there isn’t already a priest with that last name.
Most Orders and Congregations are now corporations, and as such, have a corporate plan in place if they ever have to “liquidate,” which from my experience with sisters, would included clauses on keeping money for the care of the remaining sisters, maybe money to charities and institutions, or transfer of assets if they merge with another congregation.
The is really no way that Rome can get their property or money, as it is all covered by USA corporate law. So, the notion that Rome is doing all this to “get the sister’s property and money,” it totally unfounded, because it can never happen legally.
Agreed Father Z. The LCWR has been led by feminists far more interested in feminism than they are in the Gospel. There is nothing subtle here, it is flagrant. So many people led into error, for so long.
Not knowing who is in charge exactly, or how these things might conclude, there is only one likely and desirable result. Someone has got to pull the plug on the LCWR. If there was an intention or a hope of “reforming” these nuns, it appears very unlikely that this would happen. I am glad I’m not in charge. I’m already impatient with the nuns and want to get it done. These nuns don’t think unborn babies are worth protecting. Only their causes are worth defending, but whatever their cause, it pales in comparison to the life of a baby.
While I feel sorry in some sense for these aging nuns, when I think of the people led into grave error, the black eye they give our faith, the way they mislead people, the skewed priorities, I feel this situation would be better off corrected sooner rather than later. Personally I would like to see my church take a hard line on obvious dissenters.
Supertradmum: Thanks for the background on the religious orders. I hadn’t ever put much thought into who owns all these places until now. I was not very clear. More so than buying up properties, etc, I was thinking they have been advertising that they are owners in case they break away. Because it seems that many of the sisters do not want to cooperate with the Archbishop. (Though I hope the ones who have drifted theologically do come back.)
When I was growing up, Father John Doe would have been referred to as Father Doe, not Father John.
An exception to that might be some of the order priests; our Franciscans went by “Fr. Linus, Fr. Donard,” etc.
I go only by “Father Lastname” and never by “Father Firstname” and absolute never by “Father WronglyPresumedNickname“!
The MO of names in religion varied. Sometimes a person was given three names and could select one. In some places a person was able to choose it from scratch. And there were also places where the superior dictated the name.
Most likely they are the owners and operators and have been for a long time, although there may be canon law stipulations on the property UNLESS they’ve gotten them removed and gone civil, which they can do without notifying anyone.
There is a famous case of a religious order in Wisconsin, where two still-vowed-sisters set up a network of civil, but not canonical structures. Then they proceeded to transfer the various properties and assets of the religious congregation to those civil structures under civil law. When that was done, they got themselves released from their vows, and walked away free and clear, out of the reach of the Church, rich women. The church can’t do a thing to them, as long as they’re ex-Catholic and in the US, where canon law is not the law of the land. They now operate a retreat center on the property, using ubiquitously religious-sounding language which has entered the mainstream–which the church can’t prevent them from using because it was never protected.
I have no doubt but that some of this is in place for many of these congregations already in some form, in the eventuality that they don’t get what they want in this matter. They got advance notice several years ago when the investigation began that this might be in the offing.
The case in Wisconsin involved the last 2 members of a dying congregation, so nobody got thrown out into the street over the split. It’s not always that pretty, however.
When the IHM Sisters in Los Angeles blew up way back in the 70s, 315 sisters went civil (called going non-canonical), many simply left completely and went home to parents, and about 50 remained in the traditional order, but were kicked out of their convent and lost all their assets. The Cardinal of LA at the time, Cardinal McIntyre, had to provide housing and a stipend for them to keep them from being destitute. This can happen.
robtbrown is correct. Sometimes the sisters (and brothers) got to pick their names, sometimes they didn’t. It seems to me that this is a complicated issue, like so many to do with religious life after Vatican II. I have been assured by people I trust know what they are talking about that many rules of religious life had ossified, and that often changing or relaxing them was a good thing. Unfortunately, what often happened was the complete abandonment of things like new names, habits, community life, etc. — sometimes overnight — coupled with fads in philosophy, pscychology, and education. This is just as dumb as clingining to a rule about not bathing or wearing habits that caused skin problems. I have not read Cary’s book yet but I plan to. I did read most of Donna Steichen’s book but, though it has a lot of great information in it, it has a hysterical tone that (however justified) I couldn’t take after a while. But as someone who was not around during those days, I want a calm, comprehensive account. I feel so sorry for many of these women. They are really living in a much more immediate way what the rest of us are living from afar — a time of adjustment in the Church that is painful and makes many wrong turns in its practical living out. I can only imagine how many women felt when evertything they signed up for and believed in changed. The LCWR doesn’t talk about them.
Gail F., Some of the sisters and nuns wanted and welcomed the changes and some did not. The orders were split. I was taught by four orders of nuns: Holy Cross all through grade school; Blessed Virgin Mary through high school; Franciscan in college and; Humility of Mary in college. I was very close to many of my teachers as I was in philosophy and theology. Some were my close friends. I have an aunt who is a nun. There were tensions within the orders of those who wanted changes and those who did not. However, the chapters voted and decided.
I have read two biographies of Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. He upbraided one of his own sibling-sisters for leaving the convent which had changed and become liberal. He told her she should have stayed faithful to the original vision and toughed it out. Some did stay. Many left. One of my best friends left in the turmoil.
I also lived with sisters for over two years while in graduate school and even after. Again, there were mixed views. Sadly, in most cases, the liberals won the day. In my college, there were two sisters who refused to go along with the chapter’s decision to abandon the habit. God bless them. They were allowed to wear the old habit to their dying day.
The account cannot be calm, as there are still hurts and scars. As one who was very close to these times and the problems, I can say that it may never be that we can have an objective account for at least a very long time. The orders lost many vocations, as those of us close but on the outside were saddened by the changes. Even today, I have a close friend in a Carmelite Monastery which went gaga. She wanted me to come and of course, I said no. The momentum is for more and more disobedience and liberalism. They say one of those unapproved, inclusive language Divine Offices. They are not in habit. Their chapel looks like a protestant church. From what glory they have fallen…
I actually came all the way back to this post to note…
…when it comes to dialogue…
Point two is relevant to the constant prattle about “dialogue” by people to whom the word means that nobody can actually tell them they’re wrong, even granting that the Church isn’t a democracy it is relevant that radical dissent is dialogue-stopping rather than dialogue-promoting; point three is relevant to the Magisterium of Nuns being political activists; and point four is relevant to the LCWR’s looking the other way at support for abortion (one of the most flagrant violations possible of the right to life). Heck, there’s even relevance in regard to point one — perhaps regarding the biological solution, but more likely regarding the inability of the LCWR to see where human equality really exists in sin and redemption and in not really having a say in what the Truth is rather than nuns also having a say in what the truth is (as if priests and bishops had!).
Granted, they are “believers” in whatever evolving cosmopsychic consciousness gobbledygook they’re pushing (and they claim that Rome’s accusations are unsubstantiated, merely because Rome didn’t formally cite their own conferences and website?), but inasmuch as they insist on taking the role of dissent from orthodoxy they behave as skeptics, as outlined above, with all the problems outlined above.
Fr Z, I congratulate you for discovering LCWR’s motto as ‘Tota mea’…this sums it up in 2 words…how they sneered though at the patriarchal authority of the person whose motto was ‘Totus tuus’…this person who was too much influenced by the rural culture of Poland, while they were from the sophisticated complex part of the world…
So much pride in the LCWR…liberal equality full of derision and contempt…amazing double standards.
I have been following this closely. I am sad that these nuns have ‘lost’ their way. I was educated by a completely different brand of nuns…faithful…habit wearing…teachers of the faith. I owe them my early faith formation. But this has gotten to the point of being absurd. These nuns will not comply and I pray the Church will suppress the LCWR so that many in its congregation can rejoin faithful communities.
It’s about time.