An imaginary dialogue of US nuns and Vatican officials

As the number of leaders of groups of US women religious being summoned to Rome has been growing, an expert on the status quaesitionis of the same US groups, Ann Carey, offers some insights in the form of a dialogue.  You all will want to see her book Sisters in Crisis (UK HERE).

At CWR. Here is the first part:

The Dispatch: More from CWR

Vatican and American Sisters in Conversation: A Creative Summary

This is an imaginary yet likely conversation between Vatican officials and the leader of one of the several religious orders who recently have been summoned to Rome to discuss “areas of concern” coming out of the Apostolic Visitation of United States Women Religious conducted by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life CICLSAL).

The Sisters of Justice and Peace (JP) are an imaginary religious order, but all the positions voiced by its leadership in this conversation are approximations of actual statements or writings by U.S. women religious in recent years.

Vatican: Welcome, Sister Mary. We appreciate you coming for this serene conversation.

Sister Mary, JP: We always are happy to cooperate with requests from CICLSAL and to be in dialogue with our brother bishops. [“brother bishops”… remember: Magisterium of Nuns] And we welcome the opportunity to tell you about the mission and commitment of our order.

Vatican: Oh yes, we have heard many wonderful things about your order and all the good works your sisters are doing. That is why it is difficult for us to believe reports that some of your members have publicly dissented from church teachings by supporting “gay marriage,” promoting access to abortion, and directly countering the U.S. Bishops’ efforts to protect conscience rights. Surely, this is not true, is it?

Sister Mary, JP: Well, the hierarchy often interprets things as dissent that really aren’t dissent, you see. What these sisters are doing is standing in solidarity with oppressed and marginalized people, a Gospel value that we embrace. When the church does not understand the necessity for women to be able to control their own bodies, some sisters feel called to support these women. And when the church calls illicit the genuine love between two sincere people, some sisters feel they must work for the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. As for so-called conscience rights, some sisters feel that the right of poor people to receive the full range of reproductive services outweighs the right of others to object to such services.

Vatican: Well, your empathy with marginalized people is certainly laudable, and we share your concern for them. , but how can your sisters support behavior that clearly is immoral?

Sister Mary, JP: Since women are marginalized and face injustice within the church and are not given positions of power and authority in the church, we feel especially empowered to raise our voices against injustice and to continue to fight for systemic change on behalf of all oppressed peoples.

Vatican: My apologies for our confusion, but have you told these sisters that under their vow of obedience, they must cease this activity?

Sister Mary, JP: Oh, goodness, no. As a Gospel-based faith community, we believe we must not stifle our members’ freedom of conscience, for they are adult women who claim and embrace the right to make their own moral decisions. Besides, we Americans have a different view of the vow of obedience than do those of you sequestered in the Vatican. For us, obedience is discerning well and then responding to the Spirit.

Vatican: How then, do you perceive a sister’s obligation to her vows of poverty and chastity?

Sister Mary, JP: Poverty can mean many things to us, including making oneself available to other people, engaging in dialogue, working for redistribution of wealth, caring for the earth, and divesting our order’s institutes, buildings and properties. Chastity means for us to be in right relationships with people.

Vatican (growing less serene): We see. These are certainly very creative and innovative interpretations of the vows. Could you help us understand how your order implements the spiritual and community life of your congregation, for we are having trouble comprehending how your way of life resonates with the Church’s definition of apostolic religious life.

Sister Mary, JP: Well, we believe there are different understandings of religious life: The European understanding, the hierarchal understanding and the understanding that U.S. sisters have evolved. In fact, we U.S. sisters are constantly birthing new forms of religious life, and our order is on the cutting edge of this prophetic vision. After all, your congregation approved our constitutions.

Vatican: Oh, yes, we were very happy to approve the language of your constitutions. But we are confused by reports from some sisters in your order that your actual manner of living religious life does not conform to what your constitutions say.


Read the rest there.

Fr. Z kudos to Ann Carey.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Benedict Joseph says:

    One doesn’t have to make this stuff up at all. One need not even make up a religious congregation. One may drop in at a prominent Roman Catholic parish in a thriving archdiocese as I did this past Tuesday while visiting New York City. Returning to St. Francis of Assisi parish which years ago was a locus of great consolation for me during my decades of being a native New Yorker. I pick up the parish bulletin for the Twelfth Sunday in ordinary time and am rendered this reality sandwich to gulp down by the Friars Minor…
    “Inspired by our faith in Jesus Christ, and rooted in the charism of St. Francis of Assisi, we actively welcome all people.”
    This is the first declaration in our parish mission statement. It is how our community at St. Francis operates.
    We are again celebrating this radical welcome to all at our United in Love Celebration. This is a Weekend of Prayer for and with our LGBT Brothers and Sisters. The high-point of the weekend will be the 5:15 Mass on Saturday, June 25, 2016.
    This is an opportunity for our whole parish community to remember that the Lord invited all people to follow him, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, gender or
    sexual orientation.
    It is also an opportunity for all of us to invite to Mass any of our friends who many not feel welcome at the table of the Lord for whatever reason, but especially if they are gay or lesbian. Take the opportunity to bear witness to the unconditional love of God by reaching out and inviting back a brother or sister who hasn’t been home in a while.
    I, enjoying the good grace of living in a remote region of the desert southwest and blessed by a parish priest of orthodoxy, simplicity and devotion, had forgotten how things can be. But our fourth year into the new way of approaching things seems to have let all manner of nonsense go wild.
    The “good sisters” have nothing to fear.

  2. TNCath says:

    Ann Carey is spot-on with this “imaginary” dialogue. I can attest to have heard firsthand many parts of this parody from sisters over the years.

    A few years ago, I attended the Funeral Mass of a sister, “Sister A,” who taught me in elementary school. The funeral was held at the order’s motherhouse, where a friendly older priest, “Father X,” served as chaplain. He had been present for the Vigil the night before. The day of the funeral, however, he was nowhere to be seen, and a priest from a nearby parish served as the celebrant of the Funeral Mass.

    When I inquired where “Father X” was, one of the sisters, “Sister K,” said to me, “Well, he didn’t want to intrude upon the funeral because he knows how WE feel about concelebration.”

    Knowing exactly what she meant, I “innocently” replied, “Sister, you mean to tell me that you would exclude your chaplain, a man who says Mass for your Sisters every day, was good friends with “Sister A,” and anointed her before her death, from even being on the altar for “Sister A’s” funeral Mass?”

    “Well, we didn’t exclude him; we just don’t like concelebration,” Sister K countered.

    “Hmmm,” I said, “I guess ‘all aren’t necessarily welcome in thiiiiis plaaaaace.'”

  3. Andrew D says:

    Good article though I’m not sure it’s creative writing. These orders are feminists first, progressives second, democrats third and catholic (lower-case c is intentional) is all the way at the bottom. Let them die out and pray that they die out – yes, I did just say that. When religious orders become so polluted as the vast majority of LCWR orders are, it’s time for those weeds to meet Round Up so that new orders (flowers) can take over the garden. I live in Philadelphia and it will be interesting to see how many of these LCWR feminists show up in support of next month’s Democrat National Convention and the convention’s high priestess, Mrs. Bill Clinton. By the way… how do these renegade orders stay viable financially? What can we do to put them out of business and yes, for the sake of the Church, I want to see them put out of business.

  4. benedetta says:

    Certainly a lot of these women religious are outspokenly supportive of pitting women against children — you will hear them say, even in a church, “Of course I am for choice”, and said with a smile. It just is devoid of all credibility to style something that was promoted for eugenics by Margaret Sanger and by patriarchy publishing in cheap “women’s magazines”, and has never been an authentic, feminist, or humanist value, pitting little ones, a fetus, against his or her mother in a survival of the fittest/power struggle for life. There just is no Gospel value to be found in that equation which only favors brutality, torture, coercion, exploitation of women and children, and not solidarity. So many young women, even seculars question this dogma now that it is just, well, of a certain age, and highly hypocritical, and really just wonder how it is that these religious women would knock themselves out about the death penalty and at the very same time refuse to listen to the cry of how many tens of millions, many of them little girls, and their mothers, all because Cosmo said so, back in the day, or because establishment and greed based politics depend upon perpetuating a legal fiction?

  5. Athelstan says:

    Returning to St. Francis of Assisi parish which years ago was a locus of great consolation for me during my decades of being a native New Yorker.

    Yes, I am afraid that St Francis has rather famously gone off the deep end.

    If I were you, I would go to Holy Innocents several blocks away on all future visits to Manhattan.

  6. Athelstan says:

    Hello TNCath,

    What couldn’t Fr. X simply sit in choir?

  7. TNCath says:

    Athelstan, they’d have still had a FIT, for this is about “male dominance” on the altar. The irony was that there were more women on the altar than men, even if he had been in the altar. Insanity.

  8. JesusFreak84 says:

    Thankfully I did NOT have soda in my mouth when I read that =-p Too bad it’s all accurate, though I half-expected Sr. Mary to say, “Goddess, no!”

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