Skip to comments.Crisis between U.S. nuns and Vatican has been a long time coming
Posted on 04/27/2012 2:42:55 PM PDT by NYer
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by U.S. Cardinal William Levada, has asked for a deep reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the organisation which represents the majority of religious womens orders in the United States. The request for the reform came after the conclusions of an inquiry showed that the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern. The Congregation concluded that an intervention from the Vatican was necessary to reform the group. The Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, was chosen as the Vatican delegate to supervise the reform process. The leader of the LCWR will have to assist in reviewing the groups statutes, plan programmes, review liturgical texts and reconsider the groups affiliations to other organisations.
The Congregations declaration based on the results of an apostolic visit by the Bishop of Toledo, Ohio, Leonard Blaire, revealed "serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life." According to the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, many American nuns have drifted away from the fundamental Christological centre and focus of religious consecration. One of the more serious accusations was that nuns had challenged the teachings of the Catholic Church on subjects such as homosexuality and the priesthood and that they had promoted radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith. The organisation was also criticised for making public statements that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals. American bishops are critical of some aspects of Obamas health care reform and yet dozens of nuns signed a document in support of it, detaching themselves from the stance taken by the Holy See on the issue. On its website, the LCWR says it has 1500 members and represents 80% of women religious in the U.S.
But this crisis goes back a long way. After having studied this for many years, I think it was 40 years in the making, Ann Carey, author of Sisters in crisis: the tragic Uraveling of Women religious communities said. Relations between the LCWR and the Vatican have been stormy since 1971, when the LCWR rewrote its statutes. The Vatican was patient, trying to give the sisters some guidelines to modify the direction they were taking, and they resisted that. The changes made were so drastic that some nuns actually left the LCWR and formed a separate group, known as the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR). But - and this is probably one of the many reasons that have driven the Holy See and particularly the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while the Congregation for religious life has taken a much softer line it is this minority that has the largest number of vocations. Indeed, numbers of women religious in the U.S. have dropped from 179.954 in 1965 to 55.000 today.
After their initial reaction to the inquirys conclusions, the leaders of the LCWR are now saying they are cautiously open to dialogue with the commission of American Bishops set up by Rome and led by the Archbishop of Seattle, J. Peter Sartain. We will engage in dialogue where possible and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit: We ask your prayers for us and for the Church at this critical time," the Archbishop said in a statement. Mgr. Sartain said he was committed to help[ing] the sisters and the LCWR recognize that we are all in this together. He went on to speak about his personal appreciation for the role of religious women in the United States and all the all the extraordinary things they have done. Sartain is aiming for a soft approach. Others, however, are less diplomatic. For example, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, head of the Vatican Supreme Tribunal, who some time ago denounced the "public and obstinate betrayal of religious life by certain religious."
Of course, the secular press immediately sided with the nuns against the Vatican. But there are others who are asking themselves whether certain kinds of behaviour and attitudes should be tolerated in the Church. George Weigel, a Church historian, writes that in most cases, as far as the LCWR is concerned, their spiritual life is more likely to be influenced by the Enneagram and Deepak Chopra than by Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein; their notions of orthodoxy are, to put it gently, innovative; and their relationship to Church authority is best described as one of barely concealed contempt.
In some communities of nuns belonging to the LCWR, many do not attend the Eucharist regularly because - Weigel says - they cannot abide the patriarchy of a male priest presiding at mass. Some churches allegedly celebrate fake Eucharistic services. In others, liturgical rules are said to bend the liturgical norms to the breaking point in order to radically minimize the role of the male priest. And as Weigel mercilessly adds, The other fact to be noted about the LCWR congregations largely unremarked in the Gadarene rush to pit plucky nuns against Neanderthal prelates is that they're dying. Faced with the theological, spiritual and behavioural meltdown of many congregations, young Catholic women have quite sensibly decided that, if they wish to do good works or be political activists while dressing like middle-class professionals and living in apartments, there is little reason to bind themselves, even in an attenuated way, to the classic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. According to Weigel, without a radical overhaul, it is a matter of a decade or so before these orders, which are becoming greyer and greyer, disappear.
What the NOW gang is to America, the LCWR is to the RC Church.
All bad news.
Both you and the author have confused the term sister and nun. Nuns are cloistered, sisters are not. Big difference between the two.
I think Paul VI’s stance against artificial contraception was the defining moment of his papacy, and had no parallel under JP II. While JP II did give us Cardinal Ratzinger, in the US Church the Cardinal was the scapegoat for the continued conservatism of the Church; JP II was slow to enforce orthodoxy in the US bishops and it was left to Ratzinger to do so.
Reform comes slowly. Consider how long it took for the Council of Trent to meet after the popes overcame their antipathy to councils and agreed to call one. But the situation in the United States was more like that in England when Queen Mary to the throne. Under King Edward, the Protestant party led by Cranmer has instituted radical reforms which went against the grain of the people who were still largely Catholic in sentiment. This is why the Queen , led by her kinsman Cardinal Pole, dared to resume relations with Rome. But there was still a large Protestant party with which Princess Elizabeth was still tenuously allied. But in the United States in 1979, the bishops were mainly reformers. There was no equivalent to Cardinal Pole. If Mary had lived another twenty years, probably Elizabeth would have turned Catholic, maybe even married her Robin. But ifs dont matter in history.
“Reform comes slowly.”
What happens to the souls of those who pass in the meantime?
Shouldn’t there be a bit of a sense of urgency about this?
One can be as urgent as one wants, but that doesnt mean one can make powerful men do what they dont want to do. The USCCB is a power bloc, and its leaders, like many of the leaders in the Vatican itself , were liberals. The apostolic delegate had been busily packing the episcopate with soulmates, so Bernardin had the votes. John Paul faced similar situations everywhere. Pius X only pushed modernism underground and V2 gave it its opportunity to emerge in force. Myself, it has only been in the last 20 years that I have come to see what ruin has been done in the name of its spirit.
John Paul II appointed most of the current bishops (at least by the time he had died); the buck stops there.
The USCCB is a paper tiger in terms of power, which is why Obama doesn’t fear them; I’d like to see how many voters they can pull from the “D” column with this current battle. The majority of Americans listened to their bishops as long as the path to salvation was wide; I’m curious to see how this shakes out.
Wrong. The pope ratifies their appointments. The American bishops usually nominate them. It is then sent up the chain through the apostolic delegate, then to Rome. The Curia has much less control over who gets bishop than it did during the time of Pius XII, who had pointmen like Spellman in the USA.
“The pope ratifies their appointments.”
Enough said; he has 100% control over who “gets bishop”.
Theoretically the President picks” the asst secretary of hod-carrying. Get with it. The pope does not KNOW, seldom does know these people personally. He may know someone like Kurt Campbell, who has a resume as long as your arm, but leaves the lesser missions to underlings. Furthermore, the Holy Father is now having adliminas in groups of bishops because he no longer has the energy to see them one on one for even fifteen minutes. John Paul was in worse shape for the last ten years of his life. The Vatican is a court, and the pope is only the head of that court. The power of that court was greatly limited by the manuevers of Vatican II. Remember that the Curia could not even set the agenda of the Council. Like many councils in history, the council was a revolt against Rome. Trent and Vatican I were notable exceptions.
There is a reason why Jesus picked Peter to be the first Pope, while asking John to care for His Mother; some people will try, and some people have earned the right not to be put to the test. John the Beloved was the only apostle not to die a martyr’s death, while Peter insisted on not being crucified in the same manner as Our Lord (he was crucified upside down instead for his protestations).
There is no defense, especially in this day and age (media-wise) for inactivity on the part of our shepherd.
No general is better than his army.
There are many faithful religious who do these things and ask for nothing.
God bless this Pope and help him to cleanse the Church.
Thank you for this clarification. Holy Orders is not so clear to many Catholics as it once was.... and things have changed so much since the 1960’s when I was first introduced to the subject and possiblity of becoming a Dominican Nun.
Love you Salvation... you are always always always there with THE MOST important links!!!
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