CDF and LCWR: A “Dialogue” by Prof. Esolen. Fun and sad.

At The Catholic Thing, Anthony Esolen has a great dialogue, I use the word a little loosely, which typifies much of what the LCWR is doing in the face of the CDF’s guidance.  Let’s have a look at a little of it.  You can read the rest there.  (Don’t miss his concluding remarks!)

Now, Esolen:

I’ve been following with some bemusement the interchanges between Cardinal Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). For readers unaware of the developments, I’ll present them here in abbreviated form:

CDF: “Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, begotten and not made, the second Person of the Holy Trinity?”

LCWR: “Why are you asking us that question? What gives you the authority to ask it?”

CDF: “Again, Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, incarnate by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary?”

LCWR: “You have no right to pick on us simply because we’re women. You arrogant misogynists!  We believe that hierarchical structures must be dismantled!”

CDF: “Sisters, you seem to argue that you are ‘beyond Jesus.’ Do you in fact believe that man may be saved in the name of Jesus alone? That Christ alone reveals the Father to man, and man to himself?”

LCWR: “Why are you using sexist language? We are offended by your pronouns.”

CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father?”

LCWR: “We have advanced degrees in theology. We have received awards from our friends – we mean, from prestigious theological societies. Why are you suggesting that we are incompetent? Is it because we’re women?”

CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, yes or no?”

LCWR: “Where were you when bishops were hiding pedophiles? Why are you picking on us all of a sudden? Is it to distract people from your incompetence?”

CDF: “Sisters, the question is fundamental. At every Mass we affirm that Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the sole savior of man – of the human race. Do you believe this or not?”

LCWR: “We don’t like your attitude! Why are you shouting? What is this really all about?”

CDF: “All right, let’s move to something else. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings regarding marriage, sexual relations, the family, and the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death?”

LCWR: “Why are you ignoring the work we do with the poor?”

CDF: “Work with the poor is not at issue. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”

LCWR: “Too many people forget that the Church has many teachings regarding the poor!”

CDF: “Those are not in question. Do you affirm the Church’s prohibitions against contraception, abortion, sodomy, and divorce?”

LCWR: “Why do you assume that we speak with one voice?”

CDF: “We assume no such thing. We want to know whether you affirm the Church’s teachings.”

LCWR: “The Church needs women in positions of leadership.”

CDF: “As to that, the question is whether you or other womenshould be leading this organization. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”

LCWR: “Which teachings?”

[… there ensues more dialogue, which you can read there… ]

I have a dream. I have a dream that the orders of religious women in America will think of competence, if not of faithfulness, and show the door to women who have overseen the collapse of the glory of Catholic parish life in this country.

When you begin as the general manager of the Yankees, and in three decades your club finds itself overmatched against a good Little League team, it’s time to step down and give the job to somebody else. As it happens, there are orders of sisters that are stocked with novices, and enthusiasm, and love of Christ and His Church. Let their leaders,who are women and religious, lead this conference, and move from strength to strength.

The LCWR has it dead wrong. We want them out, because we want more women religious, more faithful, more influential in schools and hospitals and colleges, and more effective in converting a very silly, sad, and vicious world to Christ.

Fr. Z Kudos to Prof. Esolen, who captured the overall tone of the LCWR’s reactions and responses to the legitimate oversight being exercised responsibly by the Holy See.

Esolen, by the way, translated Dante’s Divine Comedy into English and did a great job of it.  If you have never read the Divine Comedy, you should.  You could start with Esolen (Part 1, Inferno HERE) or perhaps with Dorothy Sayer’s fine version (Part 1, Inferno, HERE).  There are many renderings to choose from.  I am getting into one by Clive James.  I would very much like to teach on Dante someday.  Maybe it’ll happen.

When you make the excellent choice to read the Divine Comedy, here are a couple tips.  First and foremost, make the decision that you will read the whole thing.  Don’t read just the Inferno.  The really great stuff comes in Purgatorio and Paradiso.  Also, read through a canto to get the line of thought and story and then go back over it looking at the notes in your edition.  Sayers has good notes.  Dante was, I think, the last guy who knew everything.  Each Canto is dense with references.  You will need notes to help with the history, philosophy, cosmology, poetic theory, politics, theology, etc.

In any event, Esolen did a good job.  Kudos to him,

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in HONORED GUESTS, Liberals, Lighter fare, Magisterium of Nuns, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, Women Religious and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Deus Vult says:

    “Last guy who knew everything”

    I suspect our host does not know too many high school sophomores.

  2. HyacinthClare says:

    It’s not in kindle yet… I hope it will be soon!

  3. frival says:

    I, for one, am very glad Anthony Esolen is “on our side”. The man has a particular gift for language the point of which I would rather not be on the wrong end.

  4. Ed the Roman says:

    A bit like the way P.J. O’Rourke referred to being nice to Mike Royko because “…Mike’s got a tongue like a lash and I don’t want to get in its way.”

  5. pberginjr says:

    Indeed, I’ve long felt the same way about him and his work as an essayist (for several publications). One of the few features that’s “not to be missed” each month in my Magnificat.

  6. Stephen McMullen says:

    Here would be my Dialogue with a LCWR member: “Sister. I have wonderful news for you. Starting this Sunday, you can OFFER MASS.” LCWR: “Why can’t I start today?”

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Sounds like every other nun I have met in these parts. I remember a long conversation over lunch in 2007 with some of the nuns on the bus. The head of the order said, “I cannot understand why we do not get any vocations.” Another one answered, “That is because now women can find careers in the world without entering a convent.’

    They had lost their first, bridal love for Jesus. Too sad…

  8. Lutgardis says:

    There was a commenter on one of the LCWR articles on the National Catholic Reporter the other day who was trying to claim that the fact that the nuns on the bus were all so old was proof that they were dedicated servants of God (because they had not bailed out on their vows decades ago), while the new burgeoning orthodox orders full of young people had not proven themselves yet and (she heavily implied) those hordes of new vocations were coming from girls who would not still be sisters decades from now because they would not show the same perseverance that the nuns on the bus have. Sad.

  9. Lutgardis, That commenter’s problem is an obvious one. She appears incapable of distinguishing between perseverance and intransigent (dare we rather say invincible) ignorance !

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  10. Lori Pieper says:

    Esolen’s take was hilarious and perfect! The only one of the LCWR mantras missing, I think, was “You are forcing us to obey when we are prophetic life forms!”

    Life forms from . . . ?

    And thank you, Father, for the heads up on Dante.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Z wrote, ” First and foremost, make the decision that you will read the whole thing.” In my experience, one of the most amazing things about the Comedy (which is saying a lot, about something full of amazingly good things) is that it goes on getting better and better right to the last line (and that’s in translation: what must it be like for a fluent Italian reader?).

  12. MikeM says:

    Well timed. I’ve just started reading the Divine Comedy. I’m loosely following along with the Holy Apostles MOOC on the Inferno right now. If anyone else is interested in a somewhat guided reading of the Divine Comedy, I’m not sure if you can still register for the course on the Inferno, but, even if not, the courses for the other two parts are following right afterwards, stretching through the summer.

  13. terryprest says:

    In Britain when suspects who know the “form” are invited to the police station for questioning, the usual recognised and accepted response to questions is “No comment”

Comments are closed.