|Bishop Olmstead on EWTN radio with you know who looking larger than life and over his shoulder. Look out LCWR for Bishop Olmstead now has the power to protect the 'simple' nuns from you intellectuals.|
The orthodox hurricane continues to swirl. It's now taken Phoenix's Olmstead and whirled him right to Rome where he will replace Archbishop Tobin as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. This move removes the LCWR's best friend and replaces him with another ladder climbing Grand Inquisitor. The following is the first paragraph of Vatican Insider's coverage of this impending move.
The Bishop of Phoenix, Olmsted, will soon be officially announced as the new Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Lifemarco tosatti - rome - Vaticn Insider - 12/7/12 The official announcement of the appointment of the Bishop of Phoenix (Arizona) Thomas J. Olmsted, as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life is expected any day now. Olmsted should replace fellow American, Tobin, who occupied this delicate position for a very short period. Tobin heads the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Olmsted’s approach in the Congregation is expected to be far closer to the sensibilities of American bishops with regard to issue of the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious)’s rebellious stance towards Catholic bishops and the Holy See. The number of nuns in the United States dropped by over two thousand members in just one year, from 57,113 to 55,045..........
The Vatican is surely on a roll. If LCWR congregations lost 2000 members in one year, they will undoubtedly lose more after this announcement. Perhaps Pope Benedict's first tweet will finally acknowledge the Vatican is conducting a purge of historic proportions. A purge which is aimed squarely at the progressive 'feminist' wing of the Church. Over on her blog Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl has listed the priests who have been punished by the Vatican in 2012. Not surprising most of them have been censured for public statements of some sort in favor of women's ordination or gay civil marriage. A number of these men have been censured in the last month. The same month in which Pope Benedict issued a motu proprio demanding adherence to Catholic identity markers take place of prominence in Catholic social outreach ministries.
The move to replace Tobin with Olmstead is reminiscent of the appointment of Cordileone as Archbishop of San Francisco. It's a way of placing favored orthodox lions in perceived wolves dens. In reality these kinds of appointments come across as 'in your face' statements of unilateral power and hence very juvenile. I've maintained for a long time that Pope Benedict's real desire is to actually create a leaner and meaner church and that as the end of this year approached we would start to see one decision after another that was designed to create this kind of Church. The consequences of these moves will be a leaner and much meaner Church, but I'm not sure that is the motivation behind these moves.
Back in 2009, I wrote a piece in which I used this quote from Italian marxist Antonio Gramsci. I'm not sure of the year in which Gramsci wrote this, but since he died in 1937, he didn't write it in response to today's Church. In a sense then it is prophetic.
"The strength of religions, and of the Catholic Church in particular, has lain, and still lies, in the fact that they feel very strongly the need for the doctrinal unity of the whole mass of the faithful and strive to ensure that the higher intellectual stratum does not get separated from the lower. The Roman church has always been the most vigorous in the struggle to prevent the “official” formation of two religions, one for the “intellectuals” and the other for the “simple souls” … That the Church has to face up to a problem of the “simple” means precisely that there has been a split in the community of the faithful. This split cannot be healed by raising the simple to the level of the intellectuals (the Church does not even envisage such a task, which is both ideologically and economically beyond its present capacities), but only by imposing an iron discipline on the intellectuals so that they do not exceed certain limits of differentiation and so render the split catastrophic and irreparable."
What I find most interesting is that in his defense of silencing Fr Hans Kung, Cardinal Ratzinger used just this rationale when he said the task of a bishop is to protect the simple faithful from the intellectuals. I truly believe this has been Pope Benedict's motivation all along, not to motivate the 'simple' to a more mature faith, but to protect them from such a move. There are all kinds of other reasons for the Vatican to engage in such a strategy. The 'simple orthodox believer' is motivated from obedience, not maturing in Christian notions of love. For them one matures in love, or demonstrates love, through obedience. Obedience, as the cardinal virtue, greases the wheels of patriarchal authoritarian structures. It is balm for the Vatican soul. That it also leads to gross violations of human dignity, as exhibited in Catholic countries in World War II, is irrelevant. That the pursuit of perfect obedience is in essence utterly self serving and self protecting, goes unmentioned. That it is designed to promote the status quo is unacknowledged except in official acts which silence voices of forward movement.
It is no wonder that the orthodox Vatican part Roman Catholic Church has become fixated on fighting women's ordination and gay marriage. Women's ordination threatens the exclusively male status quo and forces a different view of women as equal in the spiritual realm, and accepting gay marriage means elevating notions of relational love over obedience and mechanistic biological notions of gender complementarity. Both of these issues directly threaten traditional notions of obedience to male authority, but more than that, they threaten the notion of male authority as the complimentary piece giving order to the otherwise chaotic feminine spirit of creation. For Catholic culture to move forward on either of these issues threatens chaos, especially for the 'simple' believer, many of which seem to reside with in the Vatican's walls.