|Seattle Archbishop Sartain is now the Pope of the LCWR. Hope he's still in the mood to allow for a little choice.|
Today we not only get the good news about SSPX, we also get the release of the results of the CDF investigation of the Leadership of Catholic Women Religious. This investigation was initiated in 2009 and should not be confused with the Apostolic Visitation of religious orders under the auspices of The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life headed at the time by Cardinal Rode, and carried out by Mother Mary Claire Millea. The CDF investigation was after heresy and dissent. Gosh darn it all, didn't they find just that. I am shocked.
The following is the final paragraphs of the letter written by the CDF and given to the USCCB. It names Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as the man assigned to head the five year program whose mandate is to get the ladies in line with the Vatican and redo just about everything involved in the LCWR. He will be assisted by Bishop Leonard Blair, who conducted this investigation for the Holy See, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki who has garnered some fame for his fascination with exorcisms. (Bishop Paprocki is another one of those intellectual bishops from Illinois.)
Therefore in order to implement a process of review and conformity to the teachings
and discipline of the Church, the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, will appoint an Archbishop Delegate, assisted by two Bishops, for review, guidance
and approval, where necessary, of the work of the LCWR. The Delegate will report to the
CDF, which will inform and consult with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Congregation for Bishops.
The mandate of the Delegate is to include the following:
1) To revise LCWR Statutes to ensure greater clarity about the scope of the mission
and responsibilities of this conference of major superiors. The revised Statutes will be
submitted to the Holy See for approval by the CICLSAL.
2) To review LCWR plans and programs, including General Assemblies and
publications, to ensure that the scope of the LCWR’s mission is fulfilled in accord
with Church teachings and discipline. In particular:
- Systems Thinking Handbook will be withdrawn from circulation pending
- LCWR programs for (future) Superiors and Formators will be reformed
- Speakers/presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by
3) To create new LCWR programs for member Congregations for the development of
initial and ongoing formation material that provides a deepened understanding of the
Church’s doctrine of the faith.
4) To review and offer guidance in the application of liturgical norms and texts. For
8-The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in
LCWR events and programs.
5) To review LCWR links with affiliated organizations, e.g. Network and Resource
Center for Religious Life.
The mandate of the Delegate will be for a period of up to five years, as deemed
necessary. In order to ensure the necessary liaison with the USCCB (in view of Can. 708),
the Conference of Bishops will be asked to establish a formal link (e.g. a committee structure)
with the Delegate and Assistant Delegate Bishops. In order to facilitate the achievement of
these goals, the Delegate is authorized to form an Advisory Team (clergy, women Religious,
and experts) to assist in the work of implementation. (Where have we seen this charade acted out before? Oh, I know, with those ever so effective Diocesan review boards for clerical abusers.)
It will be the task of the Archbishop Delegate to work collaboratively with the officers
of the LCWR to achieve the goals outlined in this document, and to report on the progress of
this work to the Holy See. Such reports will be reviewed with the Delegate at regular
interdicasterial meetings of the CDF and the CICLSAL. In this way, the Holy See hopes to
offer an important contribution to the future of religious life in the Church in the United States.
I wrote way back in 2009 that this investigation was aimed specifically to bring the LCWR congregations in line under male leadership, and that the other one conducted by Cardinal Rode was kind of smoke screen. The Vatican under Cardinal Levada wanted the LCWR leadership muzzled and for political reasons. This letter certainly states the LCWR will be muzzled.
If readers take the time to read the entire CDF letter, and if you can remember some of the talking points from three years ago, you will laugh. The letter even mentions the key note address given by Sr Lauri Brink at the 2007 LCWR convention in which she outlined four possible paths that LCWR congregations could take in the future. She called the third one Soujorning in a New Land not yet Known" and the Fourth one "Reconciliation for the Sake of the Mission". I knew at the time this third approach had thoroughly upset the Temple Police. I am hardly surprised this particular speech was singled out in the CDF letter. I just wonder how many congregations will now take this path rather than put up with the total ecclesial male domination called for by path number four.
April 18th is turning out to be a very sad day for progressive Catholics. But before more traditional and conservative Catholics take too much delight in this most recent salvo from the Vatican, I hope they think about who the hell is going to foot the bills for the enormous infrastructure of Roman Catholicism when all that's left in the pews is them because the rest of us have gotten the message and left.