Saturday, August 17, 2013

AB Sartain Continue To Stonewall The LCWR About Just What It Is The Vatican Is Upset About

Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio gave a superb speech with a lot of food for thought at the annual LCWR convention.  Not so much AB Sartain

The LCWR had their annual meeting this week in Orlando, Florida.  I turns out it might have been the best place to hold their meeting as it was attended by the Vatican appointed overseer Archbishop Sartain of Seattle and he did his best to come across as friendly as any Disney character.  Unfortunately, sources cited by the National Catholic Reporter indicate his responses to some very pertinent questions were more like Mickey Mouse.  It seems no matter how often LCWR leadership ask him for details about their alleged doctrinal indiscretions he has no specifics.  The following is an extract from an article by NCR's Joshua McElwee which hi lites some of the responses of LCWR members to Sartain's talk.
.....Before Sartain’s talk Thursday, LCWR leaders hosted an earlier three-hour closed-door meeting with their members. According to several sisters, that meeting was the first opportunity of this year’s assembly for LCWR members to ask the organization’s three presidents how discussions with Sartain over the mandate have been going since April 2012.
Meetings between Sartain and LCWR leaders in the 18 months since publishing of the mandate have taken place outside public scrutiny, and neither Sartain nor the sisters have publicly detailed the number or content of their meetings.
According to knowledgable sources, LCWR members were told Thursday that their leadership had met with Sartain four times over the past year: Once following last year’s LCWR assembly in St. Louis, once in November in Baltimore during the annual U.S. bishops’ meeting, once in May during the group’s annual visit to Rome, and once more this summer.
Each time, the LCWR leaders told their members Thursday, Sartain did not detail the Vatican’s specific concerns with LCWR. 
In their first meeting last August, Sartain also reportedly said he had not been sufficiently educated on the renewal of religious life that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Those renewal efforts, which lasted for decades, are widely viewed by women religious as momentous achievements.
In their closed session with members Thursday, the LCWR board also shared a report of its May meeting in Rome with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Several sisters said they were told that the LCWR’s response to the doctrinal assessment had contained “deficiencies,” but these were not spelled out. 
When meeting in the closed-door session with Sartain Thursday, several sisters reportedly asked the archbishop to spell out the alleged deficiencies, but he did not do so.
I'm seriously at a loss as to how the LCWR can respond to allegations which are not spelled out.  What are they supposed to do...punt?  The fact this has been going on for 18 months is pretty insulting.  I almost feel sorry for 'brother' Sartain.  He too is being used, but at least in his case, this idiot song and dance might result in further advancement.  For the LCWR it has to be engendering further anger and confusion.  How do they follow the 'magisterium' with any kind of integrity when said magisterium refuses to act like adults or treat the LCWR as adults.  This is the kind of thing defective parents pull on kids because the kids are totally dependent on them and they can get away with it.  Members of the LCWR are not dependent on the CDF or a certain subset of American cardinals and I don't honestly don't know why the LCWR keeps putting up with this kind of treatment.  It's way past time for the CDF to get specific, but I think this CDF won't get specific because in reality this entire fiasco was a case of Cardinal Levada abusing his office for the sake of certain other American Cardinals---the ones who are in the back pocket of the Republican party.  That very party that lost on Obamacare because of the LCWR influenced Catholic Health Care Association.  Which would mean this whole thing is not about doctrine, it's about politics.  Which would mean that Sartain is stuck with a bogus investigation that can't possibly have any kind of face saving exit strategy.  So he gives advice like this:
"Sartain told the sisters their role “is to be thinking with the church and fidelity to the magisterium of the church."
And answers direct questions like this:
"According to one member, common themes in the questions asked of Sartain by LCWR members Thursday included:
Frustration of the sisters’ congregations on the slowness of receiving information regarding how Sartain’s role at LCWR would continue;
A feeling that the reputation of U.S. sisters had been unfairly tarnished;
Sharp disagreement with allegations by Vatican officials that LCWR does not adequately communicate with bishops in Rome.
To the last point, Sartain reportedly said that Vatican officials “going forward hope to have better communication with LCWR.” (An interesting statement since the Vatican has been the one who consistently refused to meet with LCWR leadership in Rome.)
And then he gave this suggestion:
Instead of choosing only one speaker to address its members, Sartain suggested they select respondents as well, including at least one who would put in a positive light the official teachings of the church. (As if members of the LCWR don't know Catholic teachings.)
We may never get an official statement from either AB Sartain or the LCWR since both sides agreed to maintain silence on what transpired during Sartain's talk and the subsequent question and answer session.  The LCWR has stated they are thinking of releasing a statement at the end of the weekend, but I doubt it will say a whole lot.  Both sides seem willing to keep up this shadow boxing that gets no where. It may be that both sides are waiting for Pope Francis to make a decision on who will lead the CDF, and it could be it's current head, AB Mueller, is not precisely enthusiastic about pursuing this investigation if he's not going to have his job in a few months.  But whatever the case, one hopes this refusal to deal with the alleged issues does not keep up for the next three and a half years because no one will save face in that case.  Rather both sides will look less than adult.  
I can't help but wonder what Cardinal Braz de Aviz thinks of this whole charade given he has publicly stated he did not like the fact his dicastery was kept totally out the CDF loop. I can't imagine he's impressed with how this is playing out because the LCWR has loads of influence on religious women in the global church.  I suspect if it was up to him the whole thing would have done and over with a long time ago.  Unfortunately for everyone it's not up to him.


  1. Actions speak louder than words. Sartain removed a highly regarded and respected campus minister from her job at Western Washington University. Wny? Because she was a woman and Sartain wanted a male priest in that job. He won't say what the problem is with the LCWR because the problem is that they're women. And if he were to be truthful it would be an embarrassment and have no standing among people of integrity.

  2. This speaks volumes:

    Sartain suggested they select respondents as well, including at least one who
    would put in a positive light the official teachings of the church.

    It seems to me that this says far more than that The Vatican can't treat grown women as if they know Church teachings. It tells me that The Vatican thinks the LCWR has no one who sees Church teachings in a positive light.I wonder exactly which church teachings were to be the topic of this discussion. Dollars to doughnuts it was all about how the man is the head of the house and the woman is simply to obey the man. Quite frankly, I don't see how any woman with leadership qualities can put a positive spin on this kind sinful sexism.

  3. You are so right. If there really are issues to address, their specifics should have been forthrightly delineated from the get-go so that they could be forthrightly hashed out and addressed. We're heading toward 2 years and the LCWR still doesn't have a clear idea what the Vatican's specific concerns are including exhibits? Really??? Obsurd!

  4. I am not sure, tpel, Many Bishops including Sartain present religion as if it were cathecatical instruction. They get stuck in the level of religious foundation and can not see that a society like a building is much more than foundation. It is a very immature mind set caught at the level of the adolescent.

    The LCWR took all that Vatican II said seriously and made all suggested and well thought out changes. The curia told the Bishops that in fact these ideas of change of V II were really not catholic. The curia is fearful of loosing societal position just as they lost secular political power in the mid 1800's. They were able to subverse most of the beautiful thoughts that came out of Vatican II in an attempt to use this council for their own purposes. The nuns are indeed the faithful ones. Many of the lay People of God are also the Faithful ones. The Bishops are are once again the Emperors without robes, even though in actuality they have many very expensive ones.

    So the Bishops are treating the nuns as they do theologians, scientist and philosophers no mater the sex. However this does not mean there is not a high level of misogyny as well in these men who have declared it is settled doctrine that women can not be priests. In effect, they have told women that they are inferior to men. We know that there is a group of mother priests ordained on the Rhine river by bishops who refuse to identify themselves for fear of persecution. We also know that the "old Catholics" and the Anglicans have woman priests.

    So yes the Bishops are abusing the nuns because they are women but also because they speak from resume rather than what they believe is the authority of appointment.

  5. This is all about control and punishment. You cannot correct deficiencies unless you know what they are. You can't be on the 'right path' unless you know where you are on the path.
    This is about controlling the good religious. They can again and again say there is something wrong and needs to be corrected.
    The non religious church members need to hold the bishops accountable and demand accountability.
    These good women stand for the poor and marginalized among us. They stand for the women who have no authority in the church.
    It is about time that the laity stand behind the religious and support them.

  6. The Catholic Church has such different ways of approaching the truth. I first noticed this when I taught in a public high school and my daughter attended a Catholic high school. For example, the principal would quote a statistic showing how well the school was doing and when I checked the data, it would be incorrect. I would then give him the correct information and he would tell me his justification for quoting incorrect data... never valid. I often felt like I was in the Ministry of Truth in the novel "1984."
    He did learn, eventually, not to give us incorrect info. I wonder if the hierarchy will learn that they cannot get away with their usual MO. Then we need to start working on some of the laity who have climbed the ladder of success.

  7. This is most interesting. The reason the 'truth' does not prevail is because right wing Catholics are far more willing to pay for their 'truth' than other Catholics are for their truth. It's why Fr Zuhldorf makes oodles of money specifically attacking the NCR and other progressive bloggers and we don't. It's why the NCR keeps John Allen and Michael Sean Winters on their payroll and doesn't bend over backwards to censor right wing contributors. Those two MEN are the reason old school Catholics still send them money.

    I don't blame NCR for this strategy. All publications have to deal with the reality. NCR allows 'uber' Catholics to attack progressive Catholics because 'uber' Catholics might and do, pay for that ability. I wish that was different, but it's the same calculus the Vatican plays. I will watch with interest to see how far Pope Francis is willing to go with his torching of the unfettered capitalist corporate oligarchy. I expect this will depend on how much money he can get from Latin America vs North American and European right wing interests.

  8. And why all the secrecy, even costumed guards at the doors of the room where Sartain was speaking! That was perfectly in line with the medieval secrecy of the church that uses that practice to hide the scandalous behavior of its all-male, clericalist bishops and priests. To say nothing of sex abusers, liars, and criminals. And we lay people are going to continue warming the pews, drop our money in the baskets, and allow those guys to dominate our minds, our learning and thinking, as if they are the only ones with any brains? No way! Religious communities are fast fading away, as is the clergy that is universally controlled by patsy bishops assigned from headquarters. And the pews are emptying even as churches are being closed for that very reason. People of God, arise and take your rightful places in church order!

    And while you're at it, study the history of the sacraments and see how they have been "constructed" to put more power into the hands of those celibate, non-chaste men from cradle to grave. Those hypocrites. The Reformation churches knew the right history when the deleted all but Baptism and Holy Communion from the list of sacraments, and even those two were redefined immensely to return to what they meant to the early Jesus communities. Clericalism is the great evil of the church. The church's hangup on secrecy comes right after that. And the only reason for the persistence of secrecy is to hide the sacrilegious behavior of the clericalism of the men who presume they run the church. It's been like that ever since the non-Christian Constantine took over the church at his Council of Nicaea.

  9. CYA for Bishops: Cover Your Ass
    (Abuse Coverup)
    Covet Your Assets, Sisters.

  10. Coveting the assets, mainly hospital chains, of the orders of Sisters really is what it is all about. Smarter grifters than the bishops would befriend the sisters rather than antagonizing them, though.

  11. I agree Coleen, but perhaps there is just truth without the article. Seems like when people believe they have THE truth, they leave no space for undiscovered or unthought out possibilities.

  12. Does anyone else think that it's strange that a group like these nuns that claims to "Celebrate our Diversity!" remains over 97% White?
    Isn't the US Catholic population over 25% Hispanic/Phillipine/Vietnamese?
    Can you claim to "Represent the Future of the Church" with a straight face when over 50% of your membership will be either dead or over 85 years old in 15 years time?
    Strange that nobody seems to be mentioning these things.

  13. They certainly represent the future of the white Eurocentric Roman Church, which is also a fact no one seems to compute.

  14. So your side is innocent because your opponents do the same thing-in logic, that's a false argument called "Tu Quoque" (i.e. "Yeah, but you're just as bad as I am, so it doesn't count!").
    Not much of a refutation, I'm afraid. And the "Progressive" side of your church (not catholic myself)is a lot more insistent that it speaks for the non-European, non-White and claims to be more "welcoming and inclusive". If someone claimed to be a good host but never had more than one party a year, how seriously would you take that claim?

  15. George, Such vehemence and riotousness for someone "not even" Catholic, Colleen is expressing something that happens to be factual. You seem to believe that these nuns or their predecessors are somehow not in a good stage of growth and development. Far from the truth, they are expressing truth from resume not truth that has its basis in appointment. Most of the Roman Curia have been for years Eurocentric, We do have a non European pope for the first time. Perhaps it is just the type of growth and development we need if it is not too late for that. There was a time in the church that it was mostly Europeans. Europeans now seem tired of the rule of Constantine. You must remember that these nuns were many of our teachers. There were few to no black or Chicano nuns in the States at that time. The current nuns are being persecuted out of envy and fear by the old mostly Eurocentric Curia. The very men who have caused much of Europe and more and more of North and South America to be non practicing catholics.

  16. George, I was extending your observation about the diversity of the LCWR to the entire leadership structure of the Church. I was not in essence disagreeing with your observation. I don't claim any kind of innocence for the progressive side of the Church.

    I will say this, while you may believe the progressive side claims to be tokenistic in it's self definition as 'welcoming and inclusive', for me the orthodox side is more controlling and exclusive, and this is especially evident in the rejection of cultural differences in ritual expression. Even JPII went so far as to lament the possibility that the vibrant African Church would dilute the Eurocentric roots of the ritual side of the Church by their adaptations to the Mass.

  17. Where are you these days? No postings!!?? Whyever not??!! I, for one, miss them!

  18. Not my words, but thoughtful words!
    Thinking With the Church

    I ask Pope Francis what it means exactly for him to “think with the church,” a
    notion St. Ignatius writes about in the Spiritual Exercises. He replies using
    an image.

    image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is
    the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second
    Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12). Belonging to
    a people has a strong theological value. In the history of salvation, God has
    saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one
    is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the
    complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters
    into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships.

    people itself constitutes a subject. And the church is the people of God on the
    journey through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church,
    therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful,
    considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display
    this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a
    supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is
    what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius
    speaks. When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes
    down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. So this
    thinking with the church does not concern theologians only.

    is how it is with Mary: If you want to know who she is, you ask theologians; if
    you want to know how to love her, you have to ask the people. In turn, Mary
    loved Jesus with the heart of the people, as we read in the Magnificat. We
    should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking
    with the hierarchy of the church.”

    a brief pause, Pope Francis emphasizes the following point, in order to avoid
    misunderstandings: “And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that
    this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of
    Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of ‘holy mother the
    hierarchical church,’ as St. Ignatius called it, the church as the people of
    God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people.

  19. This was quite an interview Pope Francis gave. The part you have quoted was one of my favorite parts, but there were also others. I suppose I shall have to get back to writing and end my self imposed exile. Francis is making it difficult to stay silent. LOL

  20. Perhaps one of the keys to Francis' thinking was when he expressed that he has learned from past experience. He has learned that his once authoritarian style is both hurtful and destructive. Perhaps he will in the future learn that the misogynistic ideas of Clerical society are also very wrong minded.