Sister Elizabeth Johnson photo by Tom Stoelker, courtesy of Fordham University.

Sister Elizabeth Johnson photo by Tom Stoelker, courtesy of Fordham University.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS)  A nun who drew U.S. Catholic bishops’ ire with what they consider radical feminist writings fired back Friday (Aug. 15), saying their investigation of women’s orders is wasteful when financial mismanagement and sexual abuses are being covered up.

Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a theology professor at Fordham University, accepted the Leadership Conference of Women Religious’ top award and then lambasted bishops for criticism of her book “Quest for the Living God,” saying it appears they’ve never read it.

“To this day, no one, not myself or the theological community, the media or the general public knows what doctrinal issue is at stake,” she told the Nashville assembly of about about 900 sisters representing 80 percent of the nation’s nuns.

In her 20-minute acceptance speech, followed by a standing ovation, Johnson suggested the conference’s support of her work prompted the investigation by the church’s top enforcer of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

Johnson’s book includes chapters on black and feminist theology and interfaith engagement. She said book sales skyrocketed after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized it.

The LCWR has been undergoing a Vatican-ordered doctrinal investigation since 2009. In 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered nun’s group to reform its statutes and appointed Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee changes, including a rewrite of the group’s charter and approval of all speakers at future assemblies.

In April, a top Vatican official warned the LCWR that in recognizing Johnson it would provoke the Holy See.

“When the moral authority of the hierarchy is hemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable,” Johnson said.

Throughout the week, the conference’s leaders discussed spirituality and doctrine while taking up church politics in closed sessions. The nuns declined any interviews that would include questions about the conflict.

But the ongoing dispute broke into the open at times.

Sister Nancy Schreck, a former LCWR president who delivered the keynote address, said in an interview Wednesday (Aug. 13)  that there’s more than one way to look at God. While the church is a vehicle for mission, the LCWR’s focus is the life of Jesus.

“Look at the four Gospels — they all have nuances in who Jesus is,” she said. “We need to figure out how we translate the message of Jesus to the world where we live. We need every creative interpretation of looking of Jesus that we can get.”

The group’s new president, Sister Sharon Holland, too avoided discussing the conflict but scoffed at a newspaper headline from her native Michigan: “Sister Soldier.” It topped a profile about Holland ‘s ascension to leadership in LCWR after 21 years of experience as a Vatican-based legal expert in church law.

“They must not know how we feel about military conflict,” she joked.

It’s unlikely the sides can come to a solution, said Bruce Morrill, a Vanderbilt University professor of theological studies and a Jesuit priest.

At the conflict’s heart is a difference in approach to hierarchical chain of command: the top-down, morals-emphasizing Vatican versus the collegial, social-justice oriented nuns.

“As far as the U.S. bishops and Vatican officials are concerned, this is not a debate,” Morrill said. “The hierarchy expects the women religious to obey their directives.”

YS END HALL

113 Comments

  1. I keep insisting that the very fact of FOUR Gospels implies the variety of ways to see Jesus and our Father. Four evangelists (and their communities) overlap and disagree (yes!), and tell us BY THEIR VERY FOUR-FOLD EXISTENCE that conformity is not possible when it comes to faith. Compare “poor in spirit” versus “poor.” Compare the Lord’s Prayer. Compare the stories one tells and not the other.

    • They do not disagree. They cannot disagree. Each Gospel is nuanced but convey “one Gospel”, one message, and one Divine Revelation that do not nor cannot contradict or disagree. If one knows anything about the Church, this is a premise.

      Remember, Scripture is the Church’s book, not the theologian’s book, or scientist’s book. Therefore only the Church has the right and obligation to interpret it. And while “we” are the Church, those charged to preach, teach, and sanctify are the bishops. They confirm what is right teaching. Anyone who believes otherwise is not, and cannot call themselves Catholic. It’s THAT simple.

      • “Each Gospel is nuanced but convey “one Gospel”, one message, and one Divine Revelation that do not nor cannot contradict or disagree. If one knows anything about the Church, this is a premise.” @JBD, I have to wonder if you, like so many Catholics, have ever bothered to read the Gospels–every last word, and compared them? I bet you think/feel you don’t need to, because the “Church” will read and interpret for you. Theologians, scientists, all of them who are baptized into Christ are indeed, “the Church,” and you do yourself a disservice to dismiss them out of hand.

      • @JBD,

        “They do not disagree. They cannot disagree. Each Gospel is nuanced…”

        Nonsense!

        “love enemies” – JESUS
        “Kill enemies” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

        “Judge Not” – JESUS
        Judge harshly without mercy – JESUS

        “Love they neighbor” – JESUS
        Abandon them – JESUS

        “forgive” – JESUS
        I do not forgive! – JESUS

        Incoherent, immoral and despicable!
        AND CONTRADICTORY!

          • @Steve,

            Specific crimes Jesus won’t forgive
            where Jesus promises
            eternal torture:

            :-( Not being baptized. (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).
            :-( Not ‘eating of the body’ of Jesus. (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16)
            :-( Not believing in God. (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16)
            :-( Not loving God’s commands
            :-( Not loving all of God’s laws: even Leviticus! (Mark 10:19)
            :-( Not forgiving Osama Bin Laden. (Matthew 18:22)
            :-( Not hating your family. (Luke 14:26)

            If you love someone who is not a Christian – you will go to Hell.
            Jesus does not forgive his enemies:

            “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            When will people awaken
            and confront the transparent evil of this horrid philosophy?

        • You are as insipid as usual. Taking phrases out of context doesn’t make you right or the quote accurate. Spend time getting an education rather than reacting to every little comment on here, or simply pick up a hobby or SOMETHING!

          • @JBD,

            I’m reading your comments.
            Don’t you like it when people read your comments carefully?

            I’m responding to your claims
            Don’t you like people to pay attention to your claims?

            Since Christians direct Atheists constantly on how they need to ‘open their hearts’
            I have every intention of hoping Christians will open their minds:

            “DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ANYONE…IF HE IS GUILTY..”
            (1 Corinthians 5:11)

            This is not love. It is nonsense. And it is not wise.

          • Atheist Max, that is awesome. It is refreshing. And it isn’t falling on deaf ears. Many Christians discard the Old Testament because it is obviously wrong about so much. But I love how you destroy the New Testament with as much fervor. Even Jesus! It just is not believable that Jesus could have been a knowing God and yet not know how his words would be so awfully interpreted … that is the root of my own unbelief.

        • We expect that some atheists are not dishonest and at least not stupid. “Atheist Max” appears to be both. His references, those not enclosed in quotation marks, are false. They are trivial lies. And they can easily be proven so. He thus seems lacking in basic intelligence.

          • @Anselm,

            “Atheist Max appears to be both…dishonest and stupid”

            No problem, my skin is very thick.
            I was a Sunday School teacher once – I can teach you quite a bit.
            Allow me to back up my statement with evidence (more than you’ll do regarding your god)

            #1.
            “Kill enemies” – JESUS
            “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)
            Jesus tells a parable about the importance of obedience and fear. He plays the ‘nobleman’ in the parable and warns capital punishment are is to be expected for servants who disobey.

            #2.
            JUDGE HARSHLY – JESUS
            You have heard Jesus say, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1). Fine. But what good is it to not judge if you are also instructed by jesus to act like and behave as a judge, EVEN TO TESTIFY as a judge!!?
            “Any place that does not receive you or listen…shake the dust off the soles of your feet for A TESTIMONY against them.” (MARK 6:11)
            “If you deem [them] not worthy, take back your blessing of peace” JESUS – (Matthew 10:13)
            “DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ANYONE…IF HE IS GUILTY..”
            (1 Corinthians 5:11)

            #3
            ABANDON THEM – JESUS
            “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”(LUKE 14:26).
            Jesus is saying that you must not love those who do not accept the claims that Jesus is making. You must abandon them!
            Even if they are completely confused, you have no choice!

            #4
            I DO NOT FORGIVE, EVER! – JESUS
            Eternal fire is your punishment for a long list of crimes against Jesus.
            Among these ridiculous commands:
            “EAT OF MY BODY” and “BE BAPTIZED AND BELIEVE” or “BE CONDEMNED TO ETERNAL HELL”. (John 6:53-54) and (Mark
16:16)

            _
            Jesus is a monster.

        • @atheist max
          Never read books? Never read how to read books, including Bible? Go figure. Your field of view – eyes and mind – must be no bigger than your thumb. Still, each piece coming into the brain, you should be able to integrate, unless brain neurons are not connected well.

          • @Ounbbl,

            Nonsense. What book tells me how to read the bible?
            And where is it?
            why has nobody ever heard of it?

            And while you are at it remember this:
            The Bible does not come with a user’s manual
            Because it claims to BE the user’s manual.

            Whine to someone else, or deliver your book of proper interpretations of the Bible.
            I see only despicable, clownish scribblings of superstitious mumbo jumbo.

            Religion must fade away. It is grounded on nothing at all.

      • That only the bishops can sanctify teachings is bull crap. If you believe we have to listen to only the bishops than there are millions of American catholics that are doubtful. Too many bishops are too conservative actually allowing crap like Latin masses to be held yet. Latin went out with Vatican II.

        • Your personal feelings about the Latin Mass aside, the Vatican and specifically Pope Benedict authorized the Latin Mass in all Diocese with the approval of the local Bishop (to preclude its use as a liturgical tool to make a point). I haven’t attended a Latin Mass since I was a kid pre-Vatican II, but it is a licit option in my Diocese should I choose to go.

        • then take your “bull crap” and go….go far away from the RCC, because you for sure aren’t Catholic. You are a misinformed, self-centered, judgmental, fool, who never matured in your faith past grade school. join Max.
          “Crap” is not a description of any mass, Latin or otherwise. Bishops are not liberal or conservative; they are orthodox or not. Learn a bit about the Church for crying out loud! Or just be the lukewarm nothing that you are.

          • And I might add Jeff, that you are very ignorant of what Vatican II was all about. Find me any passage that states that the Latin Mass “went out” at that time. You will find nothing that says that …. what garbage! You have clearly listened only to those who have interpreted VII to be what they wanted it to be not what it was.You are wrong, wrong, wrong on this count. No Catholic would call any Mass, “crap.” That sir, is what you are serving.

          • @Ahstree,

            Here is Christianity in a nutshell:

            “I turned myself into my own son, tortured myself and spilled my innocent blood on the ground and KILLED myself as a sacrifice to myself to save you from the Hell I made. I did this all for your personal benefit. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll do worse things to you FOREVER AND EVER.” – Yahweh

            Now, what sense does that make?

            Yet that is Christianity.
            A murderous human blood sacrifice imagined by illiterate bedouins 2000 years ago!

            It is junk. And it is a dangerous threat to all of us.

      • If being a Catholic means I must accept the Church that has these same Bishops that covered up pedophiles and thus caused untold misery, and the same Church creates so many rules (it USED to be that one had to fast from midnight – remember?) that makes me afraid, instead of giving me encouragement to love my neighbor as myself, then I am no longer your description of Catholic. As a youth I was taught that only Catholics could be saved. If a person never heard of Christ – too bad! Ridiculous.

        My reading of the New Testament tells me that Jesus taught justice and concern for the poor, the outcast, the sinners. He castigated the rich and powerful.

        The “Church” is a hierarchy with some rich and powerful Bishops. Jesus was crucified b/c the powerful felt threatened! (Did not quite work out as planned!)

        Pope John XXIII tried to breath love and understanding in to the Church but bureaucrats have tried with all their might to thwart that. I hope Pope Francis has more success.

        • Oh poor baby, so afraid. Put on your big boy (or girl) pants and actually learn the truth of the Faith. The illogical dribble that you describe is less than an adult understanding of the Church. What you seem to yearn for is your typical protestant religion; there are thousands from which to choose…good luck and good riddance. Smaller but better.

      • “Within them shall I plant my law, writing it on their hearts.” Jeremiah 31:33 Jesus was all about people and not all about following rules made by the religious leaders of the time. Following rules for the sake of mere obedience leads down a slippery slope.

        • @Deb,

          Jesus warned in the Parable of the Minas what would happen to people who were not fearful and obedient.
          Jesus explained that the noblemen (Jesus) would have no choice but to punish the disobedient servants very harshly:

          “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (luke 19:27)

          Jesus is absolutist in his requirement for the strictest obedience.

    • You have obviously never heard of or read about Wittgenstein’s poker?? Just because 4 guys in the room when something huge happens see, remember, and report it differently, that has very little to do with implying ‘different ways to see Jesus’ or non-conformity. It has everything to do with how you remember exactly what happened along with your personality and what you deem more important and less important. There is perfect harmony in the Gospels…if there wasn’t, there’d be no Christianity. We ‘see’ Jesus from 4 unique perspectives, all united and placed in one person…

      • @Steve,

        “There is perfect harmony in the Gospels…if there wasn’t, there’d be no Christianity.”

        Then explain why you are not a Muslim!
        Since Islam exists
        the Quran must be perfect.

        Explain why you are not Hindu!
        Since Hinduism exists
        Ganesha’s kingdom must be perfect.

      • @Steve,

        WHICH APOSTLE LIED?

        MATTHEW SAID ‘MANY’ WERE RESURRECTED
        BUT A WEEK LATER THOMAS SAID HE DIDN’T BELIEVE
        ANYONE COULD RESURRECT.

        Why did Thomas NOT agree with Matthew?

        Matthew says “many saints” rose from the dead when Jesus died on the cross. (Matthew 27:51-53). They even walked all around the Holy City of JERUSALEM appearing to people.

        Certainly this would have been the biggest story in Jerusalem all week. Everyone would know.

        BUT days later, when Thomas was told that Jesus was also risen Thomas REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT!

        Thomas rejected the story FOR A WHOLE WEEK. Even though the risen people and witnesses had to be everywhere in town!

        So Thomas rejected Matthew’s account of what happened that week because John says Thomas rejected resurrections and would not believe unless he saw Jesus himself! (John 20:21)

        If Matthew’s version is true – that many people rose from the dead and walked around town for days – Thomas would not have doubted that resurrection was possible. He would have already seen it happen!

        ONLY IF MATTHEW LIED about those other resurrections would Thomas’ reaction make sense!

        IF MATTHEW DIDN’T LIE – then JOHN must have lied about Thomas’ doubts.
        In which case Jesus did not appear to Thomas as described!

        Both versions cannot be true.
        But each version can be wrong!

        Take your pick of which is true – IT IS GUESSWORK!
        John’s version or Matthew’s?

        Thomas supposedly knew Matthew well !
        But Thomas apparently did not believe Matthew’s story – so why should I ?

        • Your sophistry is shallow and immature. If human living and observations were as simple as you seem to assume, then nobody would ever argue with anything about anybody. And those riots in Ferguson, couldn’t be going on.

          “Who was right? Newton or Einstein? You see, Newton was LYING.” It’s just uninformed adolescent anger.

          • @Glen in SJ,

            “If living and observations were as simple as you seem to assume, then nobody would ever argue..”

            I am not the one calling the Bible ‘perfect’.
            That is your job.

            My point is that The Bible is contradictory nonsense
            And these nuns are just as right (and wrong)
            As anyone else who thinks they can live by this ridiculous dangerous philosophy.

          • @Glen in SJ,

            “shallow and immature”

            No.
            I am a former Sunday School teacher. I was a Catholic for 44 years before I discovered this stuff is nonsense.

            My mission is to offer a voice of common sense and truth
            where I once offered the same religious BS you are peddling today.

        • The reply to all your concerns “max” are simple: The keys were not left to you. You will probably never find the truth in this life, but the look on your face in the next will be priceless!

          • @ ahstree So predictable. You have no convincing response so out comes the typical threat. “You’ll be sorry later!” And of course the implication that all the faithful will be gratified at your punishment. What childishness!

          • @Dave Ansell,

            Your accusation of ‘childishness’ was exactly right – as I will elaborate.

            @Ahstree,

            Dave was correct, God is rooted in the childishness.

            This is my rough definition of the “God” I DO NOT believe in:

            God – A supreme creator and controller of nature; personally responsive to humans as a special species, who takes sides between good and evil. Humans exist for Him and He exists for us.

            This is my definition
            of what I think God really is:

            God
            A delusional phenomenon created by our evolved biology to fills gaps of ignorance with a sense of certainty to bring us a feeling of safety and comfort. It originates from the infant’s need to find a parent – it is provided by millions of years of evolution. This is an incredibly strong neurological trait found in all infant mammals – including humans.

            Because the drive for a parent is biologically programmed, all cultures have built complex institutions of rituals and myths to address the phenomenon.

            Religion then, nurtures the infantile impulse and destroys any chance of it dying off as other infant traits do; the baby teeth, baby skin and baby hair, etc.

            Humans have mistaken this very REAL drive for the myths which then become transposed and feel as real as a parent figure!
            Humans then defend these religious myths with absolute fervor yet it is nothing more than the infant demanding its parent.

            “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – JESUS (Matthew 18:3)

            .
            Religions are blunders.
            They are early attempts to understand this real problem.
            These philosophies were manmade to try to explain this natural (and now neurologically confirmed) longing for a parent.

            You can see this absolutist drive on the Christian preachers
            and on the faces of the religious terrorists too.

            It is not AT ALL meant to be insulting
            to say it….humans must ‘grow up’. :-)

      • @Steve,

        You said, “the gospels are perfect harmony”!!!

        NO IT ISN’T – AND THOMAS PROVES IT!
        :-)

        How did Thomas forget that he had already met the risen Jesus?
        Did he forget about it?

        According to Luke, Thomas was a witness to the risen Jesus ON THE EXACT DAY it happened (He “worshipped him” with great joy – Luke 24:39)

        YET,
        According to John, Thomas did not believe in the resurrection even a full week after it happened. (“He refused to believe” – John 20:25)

        So Thomas must have FORGOTTEN he already saw Jesus once ????

        It must not have been very memorable! :-)

        OR the Gospels are nonsense.

  2. Bruce Morrill, a Jesuit masquerading as a theologian at Vanderbilt, will surely come under Vatican scrutiny for his less than wholehearted condemnation of the LCWR position. Akin to speaking favorably of women’s ordination.

  3. Having observed the ministry of Catholic nuns throughout my 40-plus years as a journalist, I have to say that both history and the gospel are more on their side than on that of the church hierarchy. If I were a Catholic given a choice in the matter, I’d definitely go with the “collegial, social-action-oriented sisters.” Seems to me a guy named Jesus worked that way as well.

    • I had a conversation with a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph about a dozen years ago. Her order had inducted as many women in 1961 and 1962 as they had over the entire 30 year period running from 1970 to 2000. Their median age in 2001 was 70 years. She was very melancholy about it, of course.

      So, how’s the ‘social-action’ oriented habitless feminism-cum-social-worker-ideology in place of Catholic teaching workin’ out for you, sisters?

      • Maureen Foltz,ccv

        Success as measured by numbers and popularity is good for economic systems based on profit and gain.
        Catholic religious women are not an economic system.
        “At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done.
        We will be judged by: I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.”
        ( Theresa of Calcutta)

        • You will not be judged
          by anyone except by those who knew you.

          You will be remembered for how you made them feel
          when you were with them.

          Everything else is likely to be forgotten with a few years of your death.
          Unless you made an important contribution to the culture.
          Don’t worry about being judged by a god – they very likely don’t exist.

        • The point being made was simple: God is not sending vocations to these groups that are not actually Catholic any longer. The vocations are going to the new and orthodox orders; young women are flocking to them in record numbers while the crusty nasty political old ones are dying off.

    • I’m not Catholic either but I go with the nuns. They usually work where the “water hits the wheel”. My Dad never forgot the nuns who were nurses ministering to him around the clock to save his life from “blood poisoning”. This was in 1930. When he was near death, he went to a sisters of charity hospice and looked forward being with the nuns there.

      • Chum, they’re not working where ‘the water hits the wheel’ because they’re mostly septuagenarians too old to do much productive labor. (The thee sisters I’ve been in regular contact with in recent years are a) retired b) a third rate college teacher and c) an auxilliary to a small town parish employed doing bits and pieces of pastoral work. The first is a dear soul. The second is fatuous. The third has iron gray hair and sensible shoes.

      • These are not your Dad’s sisters (nuns is not the correct term). This LWCR group came along in the 60s and have all the tie-dye to prove it. Those from the 30s were amazing women and are mostly gone to their reward. I wouldn’t want to be one of this LWCR group who spread false teachings and fill their days with politics.

    • @Cynthia,

      “Seems to me a guy named Jesus worked that way as well.”

      I can’t let you get away with that one. There isn’t one cooperative bone
      In Jesus.

      “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell”
      (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

      Abject nonsense!

      • Atheist Max, you don’t believe in God, I do… and there fore i pray the best for you, that being getting to Heaven. Don’t be offended, just accept the well intended prayers offered for you to God!

        • @Ruben Aquilar,

          I was a Christian for 44 years. Nothing was more disgusting to me than the discovery that the whole thing was a fearful, horrible charade!

          Pray for me if you want to.
          But I’ll be blaspheming my way through life with every bone in my body.

          Jesus, Allah and Yahweh are the Grand Central Station
          of most of the world’s misery.

          I’ll do everything I can within the law to help people abandon this primitive destructive garbage.

          • You sound very bitter . You sound like you we’re hurt, and now are anxious to spin bits and pieces of scripture into the worse interpretation you can imagine.

          • @Edie,

            “You sound bitter”

            And why not?
            Don’t you feel bitter about ISIS militants killing children?
            Don’t you feel bitter when children are being killed as witches in Africa thanks to inspiration from Catholic missionaries – just this year?

            Doesn’t it make you bitter?
            To see all the destruction caused by religion? :

            1. The discouragement of rational, critical thought.
            2. Vilification of homosexuality, resulting in discrimination, parents disowning their children, murder, and suicide.
            3. Women treated like second-class citizens based on religious teachings.
            4. Children growing up to hate and fear science and scientists, because science disproves their parents’ religion – leading to appalling scientific illiteracy.
            5. Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
            6. People aren’t making the most of this life because of their belief in an afterlife.
            7. People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.
            8. People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.
            9. People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.
            10. Genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts.
            11. Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.
            12. People disowning family members for leaving their religion.
            13. Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
            14. “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.
            15. Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.
            16. Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.
            17. The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)
            18. Children spending the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.
            19. People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
            20. Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
            21. Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
            22. Holy wars – followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
            23. The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
            24. Slavery condoned by religious texts.
            25. Children traumatized by vivid stories of eternal burning and torture to ensure that they’ll be too frightened to even question religion.
            26. Terminal patients in constant agony who would end their lives if they didn’t believe it would result in eternal torture.
            27. School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
            28. Persecution of “heretics”/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
            29. Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.
            30. Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they’re right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.
            31. Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
            32. People accepting visual and auditory hallucinations unquestioningly as divine, sometimes with fatal results.
            33. Discrimination against atheists, such as laws stating they may not hold public office or testify in court, or in half a dozen countries around the world, laws requiring their execution
            34. Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, “heathen” religions and cultures.
            35. Hardship compounded by the guilt required to reconcile the idea of a fair god with reality (“why is God punishing me? What have I done wrong? Don’t I have enough faith?”).
            36. Human achievements—from skillful surgery to to emergency landings—attributed to gods instead of to the people actually responsible.
            37. Mother Teresa, prolonging the agony of terminal patients and denying them pain relief, so she can offer their suffering as a gift to her god.
            38. Tens of billions annually in the US alone spent to build, maintain, and staff houses of worship.
            39. Grief and horror caused by the belief that dead friends and family members are tortured as punishment for disbelief.
            40. Natural disasters and other tragedies used to claim God is displeased and present demands to avoid similar events (it’s like terrorism, but without having to plan or do anything).

            How many things do you want me to explain?

            I’m bitter? You bet!

    • Miss Astle, I don’t know how you meant it, but Jesus is not a “guy”, he is our Lord and Savior. Collegiality and social activism are only two means out of many others, to an end, generally speaking. Specifically, the end being Heaven. Some folks, for diverse reasons treat these as ends, sometimes to the point of giving them “god like” status or Latria, reverence only due to God. That is why there are a lot of misguided Catholics in this world. These Catholics confuse other Catholics as well as non Catholics. If you were a Catholic, unfortunately would be on the confused side. Collegiality and social activism are excellent means, and we should all be participants and promoters. However it is very important realizing what they are and participate in them in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ . God Bless you!

    • I agree with Cynthia. In terms of faith and good works the nuns have got it all over the church hierarchy. Sadly the nuns will not win this spat. Also sadly this contradiction about living a loving and godly life and exercising unremitting power is the worst contradiction of all. No wonder people are alienated from the church. The bishops have no one to blame but themselves. And they double down in their vendetta against the best champions of Christianity there are.

    • Luckily we don’t have to go with your gut on this. (My observation go back over 60+ yrs when sisters or nuns were actually Catholic!)
      These are not your mother’s nuns (a misnomer; nuns are cloistered, sisters work in society). These are not the sisters you remember from childhood who served in schools, hospitals and with the poor (although there are some of those left.) The sisters that still do that are either not interested in the LCWR at all or are not represented there. They know it is a group of old activists who put themselves above anything to do with the Catholic faith and try to sound devout when they are actually sell outs.
      For the most part the leaders of the LCWR spend their time writing drivel and passing on nonsense to the unsuspecting and poorly catechized.
      A few more years and the new young and orthodox orders will be in the forefront and we will once again be inspired by what it truly means to answer a vocation with an intent to serve the Lord. (such as The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist)
      The LCWR group is just a bunch of nasty old union bosses.

    • One of the differences between the Hierarchy and these sister is that the Hierarchy have embrace the Sexual scandals; sisters keep sweeping their’s under the carpet.

  4. I don’t know which bothers me more: baiting bishops or hating nuns. They both make me ill. So here’s how I deal with it. First, a Catholic should know to take anything said by someone who calls him/herself a “theologian” with a very large grain of salt. Many theologians work out on the edges of Church teaching. They speculate. They try to discern the truth. They don’t agree with each other. Over time (centuries, sometimes) the Church discerns the truth between the ideas and incorporates it into the teaching. Aquinas got some things wrong. Much of what Bonaventure wrote still startles people (but the Church has adopted it into the official teachings). Duns Scotus advanced Mariology beyond what many are willing to accept (how do you feel about calling Mary the Mediatrix of All Graces?), but the Church has no problems with it. So I read the stuff that theologians write, and concerning some of it all I can say is, “Well, that’s interesting. But it’s not in the catechism yet, so I’m not incorporating it into my understanding of the Faith and my relationship to God.” But I don’t judge the theologian (I’m not qualified), the state of the theologian’s soul, or call him or her ugly names (maturity counts for something). Seriously, folks, we’re Catholics. Our Magisterium, our culture, and our traditions are full of admonitions about this. Second, Franciscans look at things through a different lens than almost any other community (full disclosure: I am in formation as a Secular Franciscan). It is a view that has been found according to papal authority, many times, to be in keeping with the teachings of the Church and in harmony with scripture. Before you totally condemn some Franciscan nun as an apostate or worse, you should take the time to understand what she is saying. Or any nun for that matter. How often do I hear Catholics questioning the orthodoxy of St. Faustina or the Divine Mercy devotion? My tl;dr for this is: Read before you criticize, and take the trouble to understand what you read.

    • Bill makes an excellent point–read and understand what you have read. The power figures in Rome are accused of not reading Elizabeth Johnson’s book which they condemn. One thing an author is sensitive about is having the work be misunderstood. Sounds like a poorly informed agument to put the sisters in their place as soon as they found out the LCWR endorsed Sister Johnson’s writings.

    • Bill: Who is baiting bishops? Catholic bishops have put themselves on the hook with all their deceits, their dirty tricks, ignoring the murderous harm done to kids and young people by sick clergy, deceiving the people in the pews yet using their funds to pay all the expenses that come from the bishops’ dirty, criminal, sinful tricks.

      Any you had better start taking scripture and everything that comes from the mouths of popes and other bishops with a very huge “grain of salt.”

      • The actual number of any bishop (or priest for that matter) involved in what you blanket all bishops with is less than 2%. Granted that is also intolerable, but your remarks are far from the truth. How many bishops do you know personally? Several that I know have never been involved or accused of any cover up, or any activity such as you describe and are doing the daily work of gaining compliance and cleaning out the problems without personal gain as you say. Many were born or came into the episcopacy after the majority of the scandals even took place and live every day with the same disgust as you feel for those who were involved. Only unlike you they also get dumped on for things they have never done and only try to remedy.
        I hope you are not a teacher or school principal or superintendent…if so you need to look in the mirror….a larger percentage of public school employees looked and still look the other way at sexual abuse. One of my children was a victim of that system and no scandal or accountability has ever touched that ugly hornets nest! At least the RCC is cleaning its ranks!
        and if you think there were not problems among the sisters (and in the older orders still going on) then you are naive.
        So if you are having a personal problem with your faith stand up and take responsibility for it and stop finding a scape goat. I take you with a grain of salt.

    • Bill: Your sad error seems to be in taking things you read uncritically. How do you choose? What are your criteria for accepting, rejecting, or suspending judgement? Do you use your own mind, or do you subject yourself to the mind dictation of others?

      Belief does not demand the rejection or suspension of our own intelligence, our own reasoning.

  5. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The Episcopal Church has become as loosey-goosey as any
    radical nuns and leftist Catholics could ever want. And what has resulted??? Chaos, disintegration, rampant heresy, destruction of moral teachings, etc.
    Have these nuns ever asked themselves why their stances are so loudly cheered by people who hate the Church and want to see her destroyed????
    Thus 3 cheers to the bishops for the work they have done top keep the Church orthodox. For going back 2,000 years to St. Ignatius of Antioch it is the bishops who are the official teachers of the Church –not arrogant theologians or malcontented nuns.

    • Haha maybe because “the church” is too self-serving to actually spread the gospel, not to mention outdated and evil considering their blatant support of pedophiles. It must destroyed so that actual believers can live in peace without be suffocated by those who simply believe that they believe, sorry that you’re offended by these “radicals”.

    • I’d be glad to go along with Deacon John and say “yay let’s hear it for the hierarchy.” But my conscience dictates otherwise. Where would the church be today if all the social justice pleadings and dedicated hard labor on behalf of the marginalized never happened? Catholics are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard and to exercise moral courage. The long established pattern of abuse cover-ups proves the hierarchy walks away from hard moral decisions. Keeping the church orthodox and intolerant doesn’t amount to much if it is decayed from within–much as a tooth needing a root canal.

    • As Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong so wisely wrote, “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” He was not putting down the changes Deacon Bresnahan refers to. It is always sad to see a person with his head buried in the sands of antiquity.

    • Speaking out and disagreement are not allowed when excommunication is a threat. It is not allowed when the destruction of good women like Elizabeth Johnson and good men like Fr. Thomas Doyle is practiced by a sinful hierarchy.

      The “gang of bishops” should not be allowed to continue with their presumptuous, royal, autocratic ways to silence and destroy anyone of the People of God because they disagree with them! That is all politics, not religion, and it is dirty politics.

      The worst dissonance with the best of scripture is that we continue to be political in a system just as what Jesus disowned. This cries out for a separation of religion and politics! This screams out for honesty!

  6. The hierarchy with all of its shortcomings should be questioning why the church is losing in most developed countries. The equal recognition of women in this male dominated hierarchy is prob one of the last glass ceilings. The future for religious women is at stake. Failure to make strides and gain acceptance will ensure that future religious female vocations are embraced only by cultures still accepting male dominance.

  7. Until the People of God are more peopled with plain, honest, and free-thinking people who think and speak and write like Elizabeth Johnson, and until the People of God take back their church from the royal dominion of the clergy, it will and should continue to diminish because it is no representation of God or Jesus, the claimed son of God.

    The church cannot depend on or use its claimed billions of members as any significance as long as the increases of membership are only taking place in places where literacy is low. Such “converts” have a tendency to consider such religious claims in the same category as magic. They are still functioning mentally in the age of mythology.

    In our “Quest for the Living God,” we must open our minds to all possibilities and cease allowing celibate, hypocritically chaste men from running the church as if they had a royal mandate from an almighty God to lord it over everyone else. No one can prove that Jesus ever said, “Tu es Petrus, et super hanc
    petrum aedificabo ecclesiam mean,” “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” That, like the rest of scripture, was subject to the errors of not-too-literate scribes or the purposeful determination of more literate ones to make it fit their desire.

    The priesthood, from popes on down to the lowliest village curates. has increasingly been the worst scandal and hypocrisy of all in claims that this evolved Vatican Church is of God or Jesus. The people in the pews–for many other and more important reasons than that they pay all the bills–must demand a full and equal voice in all church matters.

    The “lay people” must stop sitting in those pews. They must continue walking out the doors until the clergy are forced to face the fact that no one is listening to their false prophecies. They must force the clergy to realize they understand the historical design of the liturgy and other sacraments that gives the clergy false power over their lives from cradle to grave–hocus-pocus.

    Martin Luther was right. Baptism and Holy Communion were the only practices referred to at all in what is claimed to be church scripture. And celibacy was of tenth century design to protect church property, it had nothing to do with a non-sexual life being “holier” than a natural sexual life.

    May Elizabeth Johnson remain a strong and clear voice awakening the People of God to an honest and meaningful “Quest for the Living God.” She makes more sense than the platitudinous official pronouncements the clergy are forced to mime.

    When religion ceases to make sense, as the rigid, royal, hypocritical practices and preachings the people in the pews have been listening to for too many centuries, it is time for genuine reformation.

    It is the masochism and fear of the celibate, unchaste, male clergy who manage the church, that they try to silence women in general, and women like Elizabeth Johnson in particular. Johnson is an example that we open our minds and think with the aid of all we know now, and that is a threat to the ancient, royal dominance of the supposedly chaste male clergy over all the rest of us. For the same reasons, the celibates in the Vatican are trying to silence 80% of nuns in the United States. We must support ourselves by supporting those nuns. It is our church. We are the People of God. We could always start a new clergy.

    • gilhcan: you speak like a true apostate. The Christ will never leave the Church, he promised that. “Plain, honest, and free-thinking people who think and speak and write like Elizabeth Johnson” are actually protestants and it has happened over and over again since Christ founded the one true church, the RCC. The Church may become smaller as predicted by our Pope emeritus, but it will be stronger for it.
      As you say “we open our minds and think with the aid of all we know now” you are leaving out the fact that Christ left his Church in the capable hands of Peter and his successors. You are certainly free to join or start up a new and open minded protestant church. Your mind is so open your brains are falling out. I’m not interested in joining your church of “whats happening now”, but enjoy your journey…just be careful of the destination.

  8. I read one of her books in Grad School years ago and I liked her perspective. The church leaders are a joke. If they were thishard on abusive priests maybe the hierarcybwould have more respect.

  9. I read one of her books in Grad School years ago and I liked her perspective. The church leaders are a joke. If they were this hard on abusive priests maybe the hierarchy would have more respect.

  10. The CDF investigation of the LCWR is an opportunity to have a dialogue about purifying certain doctrines from patriarchal ideology. In this regard, St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” may provide a solid foundation to resolve the most crucial issues of gender equality, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

    Many nuns have the signs of the priesthood and are ready to be ordained.
    The exclusively male priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CIC 1024, CCC 1598). The church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, but not necessarily patriarchal. Let us pray that all the Christian churches will be able to discern the difference between patriarchal ideology and revealed truths, and act accordingly.

  1. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  2. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  3. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  4. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  5. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  6. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  7. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  8. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  9. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.