Every year around Christmas and Easter, the usual hyenas emerge from the brush to worry at the Church’s heels. This year, as a little gift to the Christ Child, the National Catholic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) has teamed up with an entity I’ve never heard of, the Global Post, to excrete a series of articles which have no other purpose than to harm the Church through distortion of facts.
The Global Post, which is funded by the Ford Foundation, which also funds anti-Catholic groups such as “Catholics For Choice“, and which has board over-lap with Planned Parenthood, and Fishwrap are teamed up to lie about what the Holy See is doing in regard to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR – a subsidiary of the Magisterium of Nuns). See this too, to get an idea of the connections.
Global Post/Fishwrap would have you believe that the “the Vatican” is being mean to the wonderful nuns because they work with the poor, etc.
The Holy See’s doctrinal concerns are not at the thousands of religious sisters in these USA who work with the poor, care for the sick, and teach children properly, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, and whom the Holy See says we owe “admiration”.
To get at what the Holy See is really doing, we have to go back to the Doctrinal Assessment (at the Vatican website HERE and at the website of the USCCB HERE) issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). There, and only there, can any true investigation of what is happening begin.
The Holy See clearly states why the LCWR has been reined in. The Church’s enemies will ignore the Doctrinal Assessment and, as a deception, repeat in a mantra that nuns work with the poor, etc.
The Pope and his Curia have already expressed several times their “admiration” (the word they use) for the work of US nuns in schools, hospitals and care of the poor. The Doctrinal Assessment clearly states that appreciation.
If you want proof, read the Doctrinal Assessment.
The actions taken by “the Vatican” in regard to the LCWR have nothing to do with these good works by nuns in these United States. Nor is “the Vatican” trying to get nuns back into wearing habits or living in convents (good as these things would be). No, the CDF’s disciplinary action against the LCWR concerns doctrine only. For Fishwrap readers, that means it’s about Catholic teaching.
Specifically, the CDF’s Doctrinal Assessment, published in English on the Vatican website (NB: they are not hiding it!), accuses the LCWR of distancing itself from Catholic teaching concerning women’s ordination and homosexual behaviors. The CDF’s written assessment offers as an example “specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious ‘moving beyond the Church’ or even beyond Jesus.”
Sr. Brink tells the nuns that they should move ‘beyond Jesus’.
What’s at stake is the drift among some U.S. nuns away from the Church’s faith in the central role of Christ and His Body, the Church, in human salvation. The CDF implies that some in the leadership of the LCWR have embraced forms of inter-religious dialogue based upon the alleged or supposed equality of all religions.
The CDF’s intervention in the LCWR is not aimed at the nuns’ good works on behalf of the poor.
The CDR is not asking the sisters to renounce Vatican II reforms.
By contrast, the nuns and their allies hurl that false charge back at the CDF while refusing to address the real issues which the Pope and his Curia have openly expressed, in writing, for all the world to read.
Fishwrap and its “global” Ford Foundation/Planned Parenthood/Catholics For Choice allies are engaged in a campaign of obfuscation.
The average age of these sisters is 76 anyway. Most of them are not out doing anything. The few that you see on occasion are the youngest of them. I’m trying to think of the last time I saw a Catholic sister in person. It’s been years.
Either these journalists and nuns are illiterate or they have NPD. I suspect the latter. Even the earlier LCWR – friendly catholic magazine here has stopped writing panegyric articles about their dissent. Very good!
“The CDF’s written assessment offers as an example “specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious ‘moving beyond the Church’ or even beyond Jesus.”
This reminds me of a deceased Marianist religious brother who addressed some of his confreres’ concerns over what they described as “an overemphasis of Mary” in their community by saying, “If you don’t like Mary, you don’t like the Society of Mary. If you don’t like the Society of Mary, then you don’t like Jesus. If you don’t like Jesus, then you don’t like the Church. If you don’t like the Church, then get out!”
Perhaps the sisters who wish to “move beyond Jesus” might want to take this prophetic religious’ advice. I’m sure the Episcopalians, who seem to let their members believe anything they want, would be happy to have them.
One can only wonder what Sr. Brink could be thinking. How can one even contemplate the bizarre notion of moving “beyond Jesus” without understanding that “beyond” can only be outside the Church? I shudder to imagine what these sisters must have been taught in their formation.
Maybe I’m missing something obvious here, I don’t know. Perhaps someone can explain it to me. I can understand why people — rational, educated, thoughtful people — can’t accept the authority of the bishops, an all-male priesthood, “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus,” and other such things. I don’t agree with them, but I can see where they’re coming from; I understand why they’re not Roman Catholics, but are Protestants instead.
Rather different, though, are people who, on the one hand not only call themselves “Catholics,” but have actually taken vows of obedience to the Roman Catholic Church, yet, on the other hand, have numerous fundamental disagreements with the basic structure of the Church. Various LCWR actions, of course, and a momentary skim through the NCR comment section, for example, reveals positions that someone like Ian Paisley would probably never publicly support. These people are not merely not Catholic, like a average, well-adjusted Lutheran or Baptist might be, but actively anti-Catholic. Some of the comments there are really moving into disturbing Jack Chick type of territory.
Again, I understand that some people aren’t Catholic, again, I don’t agree with them, but I can see where they’re coming from. But if you fundamentally oppose the Church, why do you call yourself Catholic, or write for or read a publication claiming to be Catholic? Are they merely misguided and confused? Or is there something more sinister at work here?
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“The actions taken by ‘the Vatican’ in regard to the LCWR have nothing to do with these good works by nuns in these United States.”
Might not it be added that the LCWR positions criticized by the Vatican have themselves nothing to do with “these good works” by U.S. nuns?
It’s very difficult to believe that these people are serious Catholics, interested in the truths of the Church, or interested in truth more generally.
Patrick K, I think I have an answer for you. Years ago, the egregious ‘theologian’ Rosemary R.
Reuther was asked why she continued to identify herself as a Catholic when she was so publicly
contemptuous of the Church’s dogmas. Her refreshingly blunt and honest response was
“because that’s where the mimeograph machines are”. Love of Christ and His Church was not
part of the equation, you’ll notice. (You’ll also notice the mention of mimeograph machines–
as I said, this was many years ago).
I suspect most LCWR/Fishwrap types are of a like mind– for them, the Church is the enemy,
and using the enemy’s own resources to subvert Her is a win-win. Actually engaging with
what the CDF really says about the LCWR would require intellectual honesty– just like
leaving a Church for which one long ago ceased to love. For these folks honesty seems to be
only an accident, not a priority.
Patrick-K & pmullane, These people are not serious Catholics. But they know how to play the game. If they left the church and either started their own denomination or joined another, they would no longer get the headlines and publicity that “dissidents” do. If I held a press conference to say That I’m not a a part of a group because I don’t agree with them, there’s no story. Now, if they made a big stink about leaving the church, they would get a lot of attention at once, but then nothing thereafter (maybe a “where are they now” story every few years). But as long as they pretend they are still part of the church, they can keep the gravy train of publicity making it’s regular deliveries.
@pmullane: When you embrace the “Dictatorship of Relativism” (Pope Benedict’s phrase), the first thing that must go is truth, that is, true Truth with a capital T. Once truth is banished, then all beliefs, dogmas, principles, doctrines, etc. become nothing more than personal opinions. Feelings trump facts, emotions trump evidence. The ladies of the LCWR are a lot like Pilate, who sneered, “What is truth?” as if it were a nonsensical question. May the Lord open their eyes.
Fr., whenever you write about such nuns, I just find it too painful to read. I can’t understand how people who have not only been invited to dwell in the house of the Lord as Catholics, but have also been given the immense grace of a religious vocation can not treasure the Church; and how they can not watch over their own doctrinal orthodoxy most carefully to preserve the grace they have been given. :(
Is it customary for nuns in the US to wear … pearls? :-o
Picture of Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell (from the ncronline.org website)
If I understand it correctly, the doctrinal assessment doesn’t even address any works at all about women religious in general – good or bad. It’s *only* addressed to the conference organization itself – not the members.
And of course criticizing the decisions of the leaders who are organizing and making decisions. But only the few. Some others may need correcting who aren’t the leaders (or perhaps a generation of women religious need to be untaught the garbage) – but it wasn’t part of the assessment.
National Catholic Reporter/Global Post/Ford Foundation/Planned Parenthood/Catholics For Choice/LCWR, I can’t say who might be just “Useful Idiots” or who might be “Intentional Communists/Marxists”, but the following documentary sheds quite a light on their game and could just as easily be titled ‘Undermining our Church’:
AGENDA: GRINDING AMERICA DOWN
I highly recommend that people read Sr Brink’s words in context. https://lcwr.org/sites/default/files/calendar/attachments/2007_Keynote_Address-Laurie_Brink-OP.pdf
Her remarks about ‘moving beyond Jesus’ are not a prescription but a description of the current state of many sisters–she has some very pointed criticism and asks some hard questions about the choices that are facing their congregations. Read her whole piece….the CDF quote misrepresents her commentary somewhat; she has very accurate picture of the problems and choices on the table, and she strongly favors remaining within the church and making the changes needed to meet the expectations of the Church.
I highly recommend that people read Sr Brink’s words in context. I can’t post the link, but you could find it via google, search for 2007 LCWR keynote address.
Her remarks about ‘moving beyond Jesus’ are not a prescription but a description of the current state of many sisters–she has some very pointed criticism and asks some hard questions about the choices that are facing their congregations. Read her whole piece….using that single quote misrepresents her commentary somewhat; she has very accurate picture of the problems and choices on the table, and she strongly favors remaining within the church and making the changes needed to meet the expectations of the Church.
No disrespect intended, Dorcas, but even in that context, it isn’t much better.
Dorcas, reading the comment “moving beyond Jesus” in context does not change the critique given by Father Z here. In fact, the entire statement falls into the same type of thinking which the CDF criticizes specifically in the Vatican document. Here is a summary from that document:
Addresses at the LCWR Assemblies. Addresses given during LCWR annual Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.
Policies of Corporate Dissent. The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.
Radical Feminism. The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.
If you, Dorcas, want to defend the positions behind this clear critique, please do so. Nothing has been taken out of context.
If “moving beyond Jesus” is a descriptive of what has already come to pass, then it seems the doctrinal assesment may even be understimating just how severe the problem is, for it suggests it has become a significant part of religious life, and this observation from one of the sisters herself.
If it were prescriptive, that would be damning enough “maybe we should look beyond Jesus…” is terrible but still yet preventable, but to say that “some of us have already chosen to move beyond Jesus…” is a far worse. To describe the state of the LCWR and its membership as having in any way moved beyond Jesus, in their keynote address by a respected member of one of their own congretations, that is condemnation enough, very nearly a confession to the allegations behind the doctrinal assesment.
Good on for the sister to be willing to speak openly about what she saw, and to urge that the sisters turn back and stay with the Church before it is entirely too late. Too bad however that for too many there is even a need to evaluate that choice.
I did not read the whole article as I am burying my beloved husband in the morning. But I was struck by the comments about the Ford Foundation. Most all of the Catholic hospitals that I have worked in, were greatly suppported by the Ford Foundation. Many whole departments owe their existence to this group….One hospital got a heliport, another received a chapel from Coca Cola president…..
great blog & very informative!
“Moving beyond Jesus…”
Smells like the rotten, fermenting fruit of decades of moral and doctrinal syncretism. Hopefully the LCWR is able to “move beyond Sr. Brink,” but I have my doubts. I think it needs to be dropped like a bad habit.
Supertradmum, not sure what you are supposing me to want to defend…I only wanted to point out that Sr. Brink’s words were less a recommendation than an observation. Given the amount of verbal distraction that has confused what the CDF investigation/remediation has been trying to accomplish, I only wanted to point out that Sr. Brinks expressed, at least in 2007, more honesty about the troubles of the LCWR than we have seen the leadership capable of lately. I recognize that she still doesn’t sound to be 100% rigorously embracing orthodoxy…but I still think her address had a gutsy honesty, considering her audience. The LCWR is in trouble, and they get heaped with justly deserved derision, but that is no reason to ignore some little good; in this case, Sr. Brink’s comments were part of a hard hitting critique that addressed at least some of the concerns of the CDF. I just wanted readers to be aware of that fact…no need to think or wish for people or organizations to be worse than they are.
I took your recommendation and read Sr Brinks’ address, but I’d have to say her words about some religious women ‘moving beyond Jesus’ are presented by her as not simply ‘an observation’, still less ‘a hard hitting critique’, but, in her words, as one of ‘four different general “directions” in which religious congregations seem to be moving’ with ‘not one of the four [being] better or worse than the others.’
Though it is not in the end Sr Brinks’ personal choice out of the four, she says that those taking the path “beyond Jesus”:
‘are courageous women among us. And very well may provide a glimpse into the new thing that God is bringing about in our midst. Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God? A movement the ecclesiastical system would not recognize. A wholly new way of being holy that is integrative, non-dominating, and inclusive. But a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life…They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness. Theirs was a choice of integrity, insight and courage.’
Like most readers of this blog I’m sure, I believe this to be utterly misguided. However, I have no wish to tear down Sr Brinks – I just feel so very sorry at how far from the right path she and others have gone. But I now experience even more clearly the genuine pastoral heart in the words of the CDF assessment quoted above: ‘Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.’
What exactly is to be found “beyond Jesus” Who is source of all goodness and light? How do the mystical wannabes miss the obvious that beyond Jesus is darkness and death?
From reading the text of Sr. Brinks statements, it sounds like she praises those who have “moved beyond Jesus.”
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Here is an article asking Bishop Finn to give us direction concerning the Register.
@ heway– I will pray for his soul
Beyond Jesus? I thought he was Alpha et Omega. People looking elsewhere for fulfillment are looking into a veeeerrry scary place.