Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vatican Men Enter The Uppity Liberal American Nun Battle

The LCWR readies for battle with Bishop Blair.

The following is an excerpt from a longer article published on the NCR website yesterday.

It deals with a second investigation the Vatican is launching into the state of American Religious Women. This second investigation involves the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The LCWR represents approximately 95% of American Religious Women. It is an association of leaders of Congregations of Religious Orders. It is somewhat analogous to the USCCB in that it's composed of the leadership of the various orders. It certainly isn't analogous in any sense of authority.

The Vatican assessment has become necessary, according to Levada, because at the 2001 meeting between the women’s leadership conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took place in Rome, the women were invited “to report on the initiatives taken or planned” to promote the reception of three areas of Vatican doctrinal concern: the 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the 2000 declaration Dominus Jesus from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and “the problem of homosexuality.” (At least they seem to have gotten the abortion thing right.)

Ordinatio sacerdotalis, Latin for “On the Ordination to the Priesthood,” was a Vatican document that reasserted that Catholic ordination to the priesthood is reserved for men alone and that the church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.” (I've always found it kind of fascinating that this is the only issue on which the church claims they have no authority.)

Dominus Jesus was a declaration that, in part, insisted that non-Catholic Christians are “in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation” and that non-Catholic Christian communities suffer “defects.” It was viewed at the time by some Catholic theologians and leaders of other religions as a major setback in interreligious dialogue. (That's because it was a major setback.)

In a 1986 letter written by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, to the world’s bishops, he wrote: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” (The most misleading term in this sentence is to refer to homosexuality as an 'inclination' as opposed to an intrinsic orientation. Notice how the word intrinsic is used to describe it's moral evil. In other words, this is the devil's work and not a God given orientation.)

Regarding the investigation of the women’s leadership conference, Levada informed conference leaders: “Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.” (It's only been eight years, at least you could have given them fifty years like you did Maciel and the Legion.)

As a result, Levada said, the Vatican had decided “a doctrinal assessment” of the “activities and initiatives of the LCWR would be helpful.” (I'm quite sure that's already been done and that the answer to that has already been written.)

Levada added that the decision was reached while in communication with Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Under Rodé’s leadership, his congregation last December announced it had begun its own investigation of U.S. women’s religious communities with the expressed aim of assessing the “quality of life” among their members and to determine why numbers of women religious have fallen in recent decades.

The Rodé study is being conducted under the direction of the superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Clare Millea, whom Rodé appointed as apostolic visitator.
The new assessment of the women’s leadership conference, Levada stated in his letter, will be conducted by Leonard P. Blair, bishop of Toledo, Ohio, a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. (Bishop Blair is as orthodox as they come. So orthodox he himself says the Extraordinary form of the Mass.)

Levada said Blair’s principal purpose is to “review the work of the LCWR in supporting its membership as communities of faith and witness to Christ in today’s church, and to offer any useful assistance.”


It looks to me like the big boys in the Vatican decided Mother Clare Millea wasn't up to the task of taking on the big bad women of the LCWR. Apparently Mother Millea doesn't have the right equipment to represent Jesus in this task of investigating American Women Religious. First and foremost I see this second investigation as a major insult to her and her abilities. If Mother Millea actually thought she had the confidence of the Vatican, I guess she now knows she doesn't.

The commentary on the NCR site was interesting to read. There weren't near the number of orthodox coming out to support the CDF as there were for the announcement of the first investigation. Are even the orthodox a little queasy about this second investigation? Why do American nuns merit two Vatican investigations when the Legion reluctantly only gets one, and the seminaries who cranked out all those abusers only got one? Does this mean uppity nuns are more intrinsically evil than sexually abusive priests? Or does it just mean it involves tricky treacherous women and tricky treacherous women need two Vatican salvos, not just one.

I keep waiting for the Vatican investigation into the USCCB and their penchant for covering up sexual abusers. Seems to me that's done a whole lot more damage to the American Catholic church than the tricky treacherous uppity nuns of the LCWR. Why that's even cost some dioceses to throw convents of nuns out on the street so they could sell off their property to pay off lawyers and abuse victims.
Of course those nuns were also placed under a gag order and removed from their property under their vows of obedience. Those are REAL nuns, not uppity treacherous liberal nuns. On the other hand there are these observations from an ex nun in the above linked article.

"One of the reasons I left is you have no voice," said Gutierrez, who wore the habit for eight years in the 1960s. Now retired from a second career teaching English, she expressed dismay that the Los Angeles archdiocese, after being pilloried for its reluctance to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, appeared to have gone to ground again.

"It's the same mistake all over again: 'Be quiet, be quiet. Don't say anything. Don't rock the boat,' " Gutierrez said.

Another former Bethany sister, Evangelina Diaz, said the defensive posture was also apt to hurt recruiting, seldom easy for the Catholic Church in recent decades.

"Look, a gag rule on three nuns! Holy mackerel!" said Diaz, 74, in the parking lot outside the convent. "They do this to the ones who've been around for 57 years? No wonder they don't get more vocations. Would you want to join?"

Perhaps Mother Millea will want to investigate why an Archdiocese would kick out three old nuns in order to sell their property. It may shed some light on quality of life issues as well as the recruitment problem.

I hardly think Bishop Leonard Blair would be motivated to take on such an investigation himself. He's had his own problems since coming to the Diocese of Toledo, and my gosh, one of his biggest problems involved an uppity nun.

This link is actually pretty fascinating. Toledo happened to be home to one of the most sensational of the abuse stories. A story that involved satanic ritual abuse, the murder of a nun and the subsequent cover up by both the diocese and the Toledo police. The priest, Fr. George Robinson was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Another kind of fascinating coincidence is that Toledo is the home diocese of Barbara Blaine the president of SNAP. The USCCB considers Barbara Blaine to be a very uppity and treacherous woman. She is not particularly fond of Bishop Blair and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. SNAP and the diocese waged quite a battle over opening a window of opportunity for abuse victims beyond the statutory limit. This was the Ohio bill for which Bishop Tom Gumbleton testified and where he admitted to his own abuse by a cleric. It was subsequently amended to remove the year window and then signed into law.

Bishop Blair did himself proud to get that year window out of SB 17 and now he gets to take on the LCWR. Barbara Blaine could probably give the LCWR some insight into the strategies of Bishop Blair---one of which was to call in the male clerical troops to take on uppity lay legislators from their pulpits. Apparently it worked well enough to get SB 17 amended to the Bishop's liking.

Personally, I'd love to see Bishop Blair go toe to toe with Sr. Joan Chittister. I'm sure Blair would win the day, having the entire Vatican male clerical corp behind him, but Sr. Joan would win the war of words, and in the end that's real power.

In the meantime, Mother Clare Millea has already been run over by the male clerical corp in their obsession with uppity liberal American nuns. I wonder if she realizes she has their tread marks all over her body?


  1. Why is all of this so hard to understand?

    Greed, lust for power, hatred of women, vanity, etc. These are the hallmarks of the Magisterial Authorities and the Vatican today. These are the qualities that continue to be expressed, the qualities that continue to be reinforced, as the RCC leadership continues on its kamakazie course to be the fullest expression possible of a modern day pharisee.

    Why indeed are we surprised. Just as one can always tell where a slug has been by the trail it leaves, it is the same with these men as well.

  2. Carl, you are so right that it is "greed, lust for power, hatred of women, vanity, etc. I will add that it is pride, ignorance, lack of faith, hope and charity that "are the hallmarks of the Magisterial Authorities and the Vatican today."

    The reinforcement of these qualities are creating demonic monsters in the laity with no sense of compassion and no thoughtfulness or fortitude in their actions against their neighbors.

    They are fast becoming the enemies of Love itself.

  3. I think Benedict stepped in a pile of it with his Prada loafers when he lifted the excommunication of Bishop Williamson, the holocaust denying, Lefeberite bishop. Now the Vatican is using the investigation of American Women’s Religious Orders to try to help wipe the stuff off.

    Recall that back about November the Vatican was on the fast track to excommunicate Father Roy Bourgeios, M.M., the Maryknoll priest who faced death squads in Bolivia and is the founder of the School of Americas Watch. Father Roy refused to recant his support for the ordination of women and reminded the Vatican he is and has been a faithful Roman Catholic priest for thirty-six years.

    Fr. Roy’s mistake in the eyes of the Vatican, was to appear at the ordination of a woman priest in Pittsburgh last August. Notice that number #1 on Lavada’s list of grievances against the LCWR and women’s religious orders is the matter of the ordination of women.

    Well, it is now April and Fr. Bourgeios has not been excommunicated. He received a lot of support from these same women’s religious orders that are now being investigated. Benedict and the Vatican would look rather foolish lifting the excommunication of a holocaust denying, Lefeberite bishop and then excommunicating a faithful missionary priest and advocate for peace and justice.

    At the time it made me want to say: “Excommunicate me, too” “Excommunicate me, too!” This all makes Benedict and Vatican’s weapon of excommunication look foolish as well as toothless. And Benedict has dirty Pradas.

    I think the LCWR and women’s religious orders are smart enough and wise enough not to be used by the Vatican to clean up the pope’s mess.

  4. Come on friends, get humble. Ever since the movement of change-oriented American Sisters lost their identity and reason for being when they removed their habits and abandoned the Church-related apostolates for which they were founded, their pent-up and misdirected energies (which should have been devoted to their institute's particular apostolates) has caused tghem to be "prowling around like a lion looking for souls to devour." Rome is just doing all of us a favor finally by straightening things out.

  5. Annonymous, you might want to do some research into how the Vatican related to women's religious orders immediately following Vatican II.

    The Vatican called for the religious orders to rethink their apostalates and update themselves. Once the process was started the Vatican lost interest. If there is a perceived problem it's as much the Vatican's fault as anyone's.

  6. wild hair, I've been wondering about Fr. Roy and why there hasn't been a formal excommunication. He maybe was saved by the SSPX fiasco and the Legionaire's mess---at least temporarily. In the meantime there's always the nuns.

  7. My wife, an "old social worker", and therefore a bit cynical, thinks the purpose of the investigation is to remove the sisters from pension obligations and take control of assetts to pay off the lawsuits over pedophile priests.

    Cynical? Yes...but, undernetah all the doctrinal posturing, this really might be the motivation.

  8. Oh, come on now, folks. First of all, "colcoch," I was there right after V2 and it was an earlier version of the LCWR under the leadership of misdirected sociologist nuns that deformed the renewal. Don't you remember the "Sisters' Survey" and all the damage it did? And, husband of "old social worker," shame on you and your wife for entertaining (and then publishing) such negative thoughts about Rome without supporting evidence. As a matter of fact, the Vatican has safeguarded precisely the opposite since Vatican II. It is a matter of public record that when the IHM community in Los Angeles went through its metemorphosis and became a non-canonical, ecumenical, lay or married entity known as the IHM Community, Rome insisted on the procedure occurring in such a way that the assets and security of all those who were leaving official Religious life and creating the newly-constructed IHM Community were safeguarded. The normal course of events would have been that those who chose to leave were free to do so, with monies staying with the original canonical religious community. (All Religious sign a document at profession stating that they will never seek recompense for services they provide during their time in religious life.) However, Rome insisted that even those 52 Sisters who remained in canonical relgious life as nuns had to withdraw from the original IHM Congregation and refound a new institute (even though it basically retained the same name) so that 100% of the ladies all became "former members" of the original community and would therefore share its assets. Rome never too a glance toward those monies but rather took great effort to see to it that the departing women left with their financial security; the canonical group fared much more poorly, by the way.

    Although circumstances varied because the conditions were so different, somewhat earlier, basically the same financial procedure occurred when the Glenmary Sisters split and most members evolved into a lay association outside of the Church (i.e. FOCIS). Even though those remaining in the canonical community did not have to resign from the original congregation in this instance, and simply continued in the same community as Glenmary Sisters. Check out FOCIS's own published accounts of these things and find this evidence.

    Finally, you will be interested to observe a current phenomenon in the Church. As many of today's convent congregations are regrouping and merging to found new entities (I suppose so that they can die out with more company), some of these are diocesan and not pontifical congregations. When a diocesan congregation dies out, its money and property revert to the diocese. Yet, in every case that is known about, when diocesan communities of Sisters were involved in these new amalgamations, every bishop involved gave his necessary permission for the community of his diocese to merge into the larger pontifical congregations, thereby ending any right the diocese would ever have to left over monies. In justice, check these things out before vilifying the Church. The ink is not yet even dry on the documents finalizing arrangements like this arrangements with several communities of Ursulines, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Dominicans.

    When I read such harsh statements about the Catholic Church as I find on this blogsite, I ask myself, "Have I mistakenly found my way onto a blogsite of the Ku Klux Klan, or the Masons or some other well-defined enemy of the Church? What sadness it causes to realize that such venomous comments are produced by people who claim to be enlightened Catholics. Please examine your consciences in this regard, make a good Confession, and be just with your future remarks, especially when you make them public.

  9. Well, I did state it was a cynical view.
    The problem is quite simple- given the facts that the hierarchy has not been exactly responsive to quite a few scandals, ranging from the pedophilia to the financial to the political, it
    seems reasonable to distrust their good will on any action.
    It's obvious to me that there's a tragic split occuring in the Church. One group wishes, in essence, absolute obedience to the hiearchy, obedience without question. Another group questions everything the hiearchy proposes, distrusting even positive statements. Most in the Church are in-between, not quite distrusting and not quite trusting. Perhaps that's the best option but it's rather sad to see it as such.

    Anonymous 1

  10. I'm glad you made the distinction between diocesan and pontifical orders. The situation I linked to in this post was a diocesan convent.

    It does seem the Church is splitting along Orthodox and more reformed notions. I don't know that that's such a bad thing. It's not like this hasn't happened in the past, even within Roman Catholicism itself.

    If I had a wish, it would be that American Catholicism would remember that the real center of our circle of Faith is the Eucharist. This is where connections are made and differences, if not overcome, at least lessened.

    It is that fundamental connection which makes leaving Catholicism so difficult and on the other hand, precipitates the perceived need to protect it's sacredness. The truth is no one needs to be forced out, and the Eucharist doesn't need protection.

    The Real Presence is a whole lot bigger than our perceptions.

  11. Anonymous wrote "American Sisters lost their identity and reason for being when they removed their habits and abandoned the Church-related apostolates for which they were founded, their pent-up and misdirected energies (which should have been devoted to their institute's particular apostolates) has caused tghem to be "prowling around like a lion looking for souls to devour." Sounds a lot like opinion not fact to me. It certainly isn't true of the many dedicated Sisters I know.

  12. It is not a far cry to see that the Vatican is out to get the monetary assets of women religious orders as Sisters dwindle in numbers and debts for the pedophile prients increase.

    It is little known that 1) the Vatican and the "Church" does not support the Sisters financially. The congregations earn their own money and have worked for very little in dioceses for years, but have made more money working in, let's say, hospitals and colleges. 2) the Bishops do not "fund" the Sisters' retirement. So all the aged sisters who did so much in the past are now being supported by the very few younger sisters who are trying to keep things afloat. And plan for investigations - like we have time for this nonsense!!

    Now the weird part about Canon Law is that the "Church" OWNS all the property and assets that religious women have accumulated over the years - even though the Church did not help the Sisters buy any of it. The gifts given to and the salaries earned by Sisters over the years that were used to buy property for, let's say, a school or clinic, can be taken over by the Vatican if it so chooses. But, it would be hard for the Vatican to take over any of those assets without good cause. SO, if the Church can make the case that the Sisters are doing something wrong, and the Sisters will not roll over and recant/reform, then it can take over the property - thus kicking the Sisters out of the Church and leaving them all penniless at the same time.

    It is smooth move, orchestrated by one of the most corrupt and frightening arms of the Church. Yes, the Inquisitors still exist in the Church and their job is to keep the hierarchy (and, by extension, the orthodoxy) intact and safe. And anyone or any group can find themselves tied to the burning stake. The inquisitors do not act often - but when they do, they are very effective.

  13. Working sista, this is my thinking as well. I also think the fact that only American congregations are receiving this treatment speaks directly to the money, not the issues of doctrinal orthodoxy or vocational declines.

    American sisters are sitting on the golden egg. While I hope and pray we are both wrong, my head and gut say we aren't.

  14. Colkoch, what "golden egg" are you talking about? Working Sista, precisely which canons or other church laws are you quoting? You are both far off the mark. It is well known - I mean, I don't know how much clearer it can be that American convents are desperately short of money, no golden egg or egg of any other quality exists in any convent today. And the "Church" (whether you are imagining it to be the diocese, bishop, Vatican, local pastor, or whatever) does NOT u;ltimately own whatever property any religious community owns. All of these situations are very carefully outlined in public (and available for the asking) canon law. If an institute completely dies out, the Church is the appropriate umbrella group, but in every instance, church law applies. These norms are publicly available. I know that emotions can run high when the topic turns to American nuns or to the divinely authored authority of the church which Americans unschooled in Catholic theology simply cannot grasp, but come on, separate your rfaw emotions from fact when discussing these matters. Undoubtedly you will want to go to confession about this.

  15. Anonymous, a fellow anonymous commenter posted on aspects of Canon Law as it pertained to this issue. In point of fact a diocesan congregation does not have total control of their property and it can be sold out from under them.

    We'll see how this all shakes out.

  16. Without commenting, in any negative way, on the Sisters who have remained faithful to their religion and their vows, it seems that many of the reactions to the Apolostolic Visitation are akin to the little boy who is caught with his hand in the cookie jar and immediately tries to divert his Mom so that she won't notice.

    Some Sisters have taken a route which opposes the Church, its theology, and dogma. They have been caught out. Mom has noticed. Now they will be held accountable.

    All of the diversionary wailing about misogony, and pedophilia, and patriarchy -- cannot distract Rome from the Case of the Crushed Cookies. All of the clarion public calls of feminism and education and self-expression and democracy may sit well with a mundane audience, but make no impression on those who have ignored and repudiated their sacred promises.

    The real shame here is that many women have been duped and, despite their noble intentions and activities, placed themselves into a state of particulary grave sin. And, if you know your catechism, you know what that means.

    The Church, however, is always open to those who earnestly repent.

  17. Thanks for commenting Highlander. I wish this was a case of getting caught in the cookie jar, but it's far more than that.

    In the first place adult women are adults, not children. Secondly the real problem the Vatican is trying to address will not be solved by treating these women as if they were children.

    The major issue seems to be refusal to invest in all Vatican teachings. That should not come as a surprise to the Vatican. Women religious are not vested in the institutional church in the same way as clerical priests. Sisters have no say in the development, dissemination, or authorization of any given doctrine, dogma, or discipline. Subsequently they are free of a sort of compulsory sense of defending it. They are freer to think outside the box.

    The Vatican is going to have a very difficult time putting these sisters back in the box, unless they can come up with some way--outside of coercion--to have them reinvest in the hierarchy. I don't see how that happens unless there is a real effort to make them valued members of Vatican decision making bodies.

    1. The only thing that will make the men in change of the RCC is for nuns to wear the original habits, work almost exclusively in schools as teachers and hospitals and nursing homes as nurses. To only open their mouths to pray Vatican approved prayers and to condemn abortion and homosexuality in that order.

  18. You are right, Anonymous. Anything short of that would unacceptable. I believe the progressive nuns will eventually be excommunicated. They are obviously asking for it. Sadly, the church has waited far too long. These sisters are clearly apostates and totally unprepared to recant. The sooner we are rid of these women, the better. The purge is long overdue.