(RNS) The Vatican’s guardian of orthodoxy and the force behind Rome’s investigation of American nuns has renewed his criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, downplaying the group’s size and importance and arguing that the Vatican is trying to help them recover their religious identity so they don’t die out.

Archbishop Gerhard L. Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is pictured in a Jan. 11 photo in Rome. Photo by Paul Haring/courtesy Catholic News Service

Cardinal Gerhard L. Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is pictured in a Jan. 11 photo in Rome. Photo by Paul Haring/courtesy Catholic News Service


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

“Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don’t want to gobble up a woman a day!” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, in the edition published on Monday (Sept. 1).

Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the newspaper that the sisters of the LCWR “do not represent all U.S. nuns, but just a group of North American nuns who form part of an association.”

He added: “We have received many letters of distress from other nuns belonging to the same congregations who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which they” — members of the LCWR — “are steering their mission.”

The LCWR is a leadership network of Catholic sisters that represents about 80 percent of the 50,000 nuns in the U.S. The group was established in 1956 with Rome’s backing. But in recent years, as the American bishops became more conservative, they grew increasingly critical of the liberal tilt of the various congregations of sisters under the LCWR umbrella.

Behind-the-scenes efforts to rein in the sisters went public in April 2012 when the Vatican revealed that it had been investigating the LCWR and charged that the American sisters were straying too far from traditional doctrines in the theological speculations of some members.

The Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog also said the sisters were focusing too much on social justice issues, such as caring for the poor and advocating for immigrants, and were too active in promoting health care reform. It said the LCWR members should spend more time advancing church teachings on sexuality and abortion.

The Vatican announced that it intended to overhaul the LCWR and Pope Benedict XVI appointed a trio of U.S. churchmen, led by Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, to oversee the process and have final approval on the LCWR’s major decisions.

The nuns, who were surprised by the report, rejected the Vatican’s charges. They said that taking care of society’s poor and vulnerable people is central to their historic mission, and the theological ideas of some in their ranks were efforts to articulate that mission in today’s church and today’s world.

Benedict named Mueller to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a few months later, and he remained in that job even after Benedict resigned and was replaced in March 2013 by Pope Francis. Francis, a member of the Jesuit religious order, is seen as far more open to disagreements in the church and to promoting Catholicism’s social justice teachings, and was expected to downplay the LCWR investigation or end it.

But Mueller continued to press ahead with the LCWR takeover, and in a speech in May to LCWR leaders Mueller blasted the group, saying the nuns were thumbing their noses at the Vatican’s directives and risked losing their status as a Rome-approved group.

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.

He singled out the group’s decision to honor Fordham University theologian Sister Elizabeth Johnson at its annual meeting in August. Johnson is one of the most respected theologians in the U.S., but one of her books was criticized by the doctrinal committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The choice to honor Johnson without Sartain’s approval, Mueller said last spring, “will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See. … Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the bishops as well.”

When Johnson received the LCWR award last month in Nashville, she in turn ripped the Vatican’s takeover, saying “the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable.”

This week it was Mueller’s turn once again.

While the German cardinal said the CDF has “tried to reduce hostility and tensions,” he added that the Vatican wants to help the LCWR congregations “rediscover their identity” because he said the orders “have no more vocations and risk dying out.”

Conservative critics of the LCWR point to steep declines in the ranks of their member congregations and say their progressive approach in recent decades is to blame. The LCWR communities are aging rapidly and drawing few new members, and critics say that is not the case in communities belonging to a rival, conservative umbrella group, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, that was established by Rome in 1992 as a counterpoint to the LCWR.

But research shows that in fact the LCWR and the CMSWR, which represents about 20 percent of women’s religious orders in the U.S., are drawing about the same number of new postulants and both face similar challenges of a declining and aging membership.

YS/MG END GIBSON

71 Comments

  1. How can you blame people
    who are stuck with the despicable job
    of having to apologize for this woman-hating god?

    “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood,
    the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days,
    and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
    Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and
    anything she sits on will be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed
    will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water,
    and they will be unclean till evening….The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the LORD for the uncleanness of her discharge.’”
    ( Leviticus 15: 19-31)

    WHAT DO CHRISTIANS ADD TO THIS BARBARIC NONSENSE?
    “WOMEN – BE A GOOD SEX SLAVE”

    “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord [as a servant]…wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
    (Ephesians 5:22-24)

    “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are PERVERSE.”
    (1 Peter 2:18)

    Worthless, primitive, barbaric,
    woman-hating garbage.

    Time to abandon the God
    who long ago abandoned the dignity of women.

      • @William,

        “Cut and Paste”

        No.
        God’s allowance for perverse treatment of female slaves
        is directly relevant to the topic of MISOGYNY in religion.

        I don’t need to cut and paste.
        1 Peter 2:18 is at the tips of my fingers.

        But Jesus routinely did ‘cut and paste’..as in,

        “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ – JESUS (Matthew 15:3).

        Jesus was ‘cutting and pasting’ from Leviticus.
        What is a CHRISTIAN but Cut and Paste?

        “AS It is written….”

        “he is risen”
        “born of a virgin”
        “eat of my body”

        Religion was ‘Cut and Paste’ long before scissors were invented.
        Unthinking, reflexive, autocratic rigamarole.

          • @William,

            “Your comments are not relevant to the issue of the LCWR and the Catholic Church.”

            What do you not understand?
            There should be no ‘Women Religious’ because there is no love for them – God hates them.
            What are you missing?

            GOD HATES WOMEN.
            GOD HATES NUNS.

            A RAPED DAUGHTER SHALL BE SOLD TO HER RAPIST:
            “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and if he is discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

            DAUGHTERS SHALL BE SOLD OFF TO SLAVERY. NOT THE SONS.
            “If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to go free as male servants do.”
            (Exodus 21:7)

            USED WOMEN DESERVE DEATH
            “If however the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.”
            (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

            A WOMAN’S PLEDGE IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS
            UNLESS A HUSBAND OR FATHER AGREES TO IT:
            “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her. . . . . A woman’s vow is meaningless unless approved by her husband or father. But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the LORD will release her. Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.”
            (Numbers 30:1-16)

            WOMEN MUST SHUT UP AND HIDE:
            “Women should be seen not heard: Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”
            (1 Corinthians 14:34)

            WOMEN WERE CREATED FOR ONLY ONE REASON – FOR A MAN’S PLEASURE:
            “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”
            (1 Corinthians 11:2-10)

            This primitive barbarism is no better
            than the head-chopping, plane slamming, suicide bombing religion of ‘peace’.

            Shame on those who would think they are so clever
            they have outwitted this evil, primitive garbage and graduated to a more “enlightened” interpretation.

            JESUS: TO LOVE GOD IS TO LOVE THE LAW!

            Jesus hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties above:
            “Do NOT think that I have come to abolish the law [Old Testament] or the prophets…” – JESUS (Matthew 5:17)
            “Jesus said..the [Old Testament] scripture cannot be broken.” – Jesus, (John 10:35)
            “Jesus said…Not the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law…” (Matthew 5:18)

            This is what Jesus will do to those who ignore the law:
            “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            God’s utter hatred of women should be completely relevant to
            ‘Women Religious’ everywhere!

        • Max, please don’t tell me that you of all people think “virgin” is an accurate translation of Isaiah.
          But in other respects the Gospel writers were doing more or less what you’re doing: picking and choosing portions of the Bible [as it existed in the first century] to make a “proof text” point.

    • ok enough is enough be honest why are you at war with God ? you most definitely are not a atheist.. if their was ever any real atheists they certainly would not hang around trying to get back at God like your doing.. trying to cause doubt among his people .. so what happened did some one you love die?
      or are you one of those angry homosexual that don’t like Gods know to it?

      man up your fooling no one.. you need help your obviously very angry and hurt over something…. until you let it out why your so angry at God you will continue to hang around and every one will know your hurt about something you think God should have stopped or done something differently..

      I had a good friend just like you at war with God.. did almost the same things as you .. but with him I knew why he was at war with God .. his wife and daughter were killed in a car wreck that summer.. I wish I could tell you all turned out ok with him.. yet I cant, he left the church and I never heard from him again.. I did hear from others that he remarried, so I was happy about that for him. I still pray for him..

      • @Rob,

        “at war with God..”

        No.
        I cannot be ‘at war’ with something I do not believe exists.
        I am not ‘at war’ with mermaids or sasquatch, either.

        I wish I could ignore you religion folks
        
but apparently your churches can’t ignore others like me and keep out of our laws. And we Atheists really can’t let you keep doing that without a challenge.


        We need to resist the Christian Sharia Law.

        Christians feel the need to push others around.


        Evangelicals are spending millions of dollars a year on faith-based intrusions like these:

        Forbidding access to life-saving medical procedures
        Granting corporations (Hobby Lobby) the right to a religion.
        State Legalized Murder of Doctors – South Dakota


        Mandatory Trans-vaginal probes – Virginia Legislature



        Preaching the Bible in public schools – funded by Hobby Lobby


        Forced prayer at Government meetings – Supreme Court has allowed this.
        Blocking people from family planning – Texas, 5 other states.


        Obstruction of prescriptions – Illinois, Washington



        Discrimination as religious choice -Arizona (SB-1062)



        Anti-Gay laws – Texas
 & elsewhere


        Anti-women’s rights laws – Texas, Louisina, Virginia



        Biased Counseling laws – South Dakota


        Creationism to replace Science Education: 12 States
        “Intelligent Design” to replace Scientific theories

        So long as you are funding these faith-based programs
        
I will have to challenge you.

        Don’t be angry that Jesus can’t seem to function without all these government programs and tampering with our public laws.

        Keep your Jesus at home, with your families and at church.
        Pray in public as long as you like – silently at town meetings – but otherwise no problem.

        Just don’t include me in your immoral Jesus stuff – and we will get along fine.
Thanks.

        • there is no such thing as people that don’t think there is a God there are only people like you who are at war with God or pretend he does not exist .

          you would have to prove to me first your a absolute fool for me to think you don’t believe in God ..

          IF YOUR UP FOR IT GO FOR IT ..

          • @rob,

            “there is no such thing as people that don’t think there is a God”

            Yes. There is such a thing.
            Do you believe in the god Aphrodite, goddess of Love and Beauty?
            No, you don’t.

            Yet once, 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire people routinely thanked and worshipped Aphrodite.

            If anyone doubted the existence of Aphrodite the argument in favor was of her existence was very simple:
            “Aphrodite gives us the beauty of the world and the love of the world. Since beauty and love exist, Aphrodite must exist!
            Only a fool would deny it.”

            You are committing the same mistake today.
            “Since we exist, we must have been created by God. If God didn’t exist, our existence would not be possible, only a fool would deny it.”

            That is your argument.
            And it is just as flawed as Aphrodite’s.

            There is no reason to think a god exists. And the claims that God does exist must be wrong if nobody can explain what they mean by ‘god’ – the Bible is the least helpful thing to point to as it is contradictory nonsense.

            But the burden is not on me to prove that god is impossible.
            Rather, It is on you to prove your claim that he exists. After you prove God you can try proving leprechauns. Go ahead and try.

        • Atheist Bob, I agree with everything you say but you are talking to a brick wall. Religious people are delusional. There is no cure for delusion. Drugs are available for psychotics but sadly, nothing for delusion.

          Here is the definition of delusion: “A persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of a psychiatric condition.”

          Every religious believer thinks all the other competing religions are delusional. They are all correct.

    • The bible is written by man! Man wrote from hearing stories and handed down more stories or writing.Which in turn will eventuly transalate to a different language,and somewhat scured translation.These idiots in the church are not practicing Jesus’s teachings.The bible is somewhat like an ancient history book that was writen edited and published by histories winners. Is there no one out there that knows right from wrong, good from bad,truth from a lie?What these Nuns are doing is serving Christ there husband.To treat the poor and homeless,to care for the sick and dying,this is wrong doctrine? Okay lets talk about the political agenda of the church before Pope Francis.Shun homosexuals,ban abortions,dont promote sexual awareness, let the men who lead the church offices dictate what is politicly correct.Now thats the smart way lead.Oh yeah! Let young men enter the priesthood tied into a knot with out a womans or mans love to share life with.

  2. The LCWR does not represent 80% of American nuns. It is a union for superiors with 1,500 members, not 50,000. Less than 3% of women religious are superiors in the LCWR. Members no longer have a vote or voice, since superiors elect other superiors and have made changes to mission, and community life, without consulting others.

    The sisters who stand up to them, have been told to sit down and shut up.

    This is not how religious life functions.

    The new President elect Sister Sharon Holland, is a moderate, and does give me some hope for renewal in the LCWR. If she does not succeed in this, the LCWR should lose it’s canonical status and member communities should stick to their constitutions and move on without them.

    • “The sisters who stand up to them, have been told to sit down and shut up.”

      Wow, S …

      Had an experience similar to that … in your Religious Institution. It came in the form of censoring an artist statement that went with my paintings. I did not sit down and shut up, however, I stood up and shouted … :)

      Peace and Love

        • Price? What price?

          The RCC did it to the right female, because I am not married to a Religious Institution, and have NO religious superiors telling me my Spiritual Worth. Experience tells the stories, and I have quite a few to share …

          THANK GOD.

          Peace and Love.

          • I am sorry, your experiences have been negative. Mine have been incredibly positive. I am married to Jesus Christ, and my superior is a wonderful woman, who brings out the best in people.

      • The same thing happens in male religious orders. When they said that to me, I publicly exposed the immorality within the group, and happily returned to secular life where the moral and ethical standards are higher. Most laypeople have no idea how much corruption is present within there “holy” religious orders.

        • yes we men have been known to sin in or out of religious orders ..

          I think all women have to ..

          Gods Mother made that clear when she called God her savior…

          now she would not have called him that if she did not need him to save her from sin to..
          EVERY CATHOLIC BIG AND SMALL C CATHOLIC,, NEEDS TO STOP PRETENDING THEY KNOW MARY AND START LISTNING TO WHAT SHE REALLY HAD TO SAY..

    • “The sisters who stand up to them, have been told to sit down and shut up.” But isn’t that just what Cardinal Mueller is doing? It seems to me that what American nuns need is more speech, rather than less.

      There’s an internal inconsistency for American women religious. We live in a country that values democracy at the same time that one of the vows taken by women religious is obedience.

      That’s why, I think, many saw Pope Francis as a breath of fresh air; he seemed to make room for more variation in theology. But is it only for the men? Priests can now talk liberation theology, but what about nuns? Cardinal Mueller implies that the answer is no. The reason that all orders are losing new postulants is most likely the Church’s oppression of women. At one time, joining an order was a way of escaping a society that limits and chains women. Now, to enter an order is to put on Catholic anti-woman chains. It is only in the orders that stand up to the Vatican that those chains are loosed.

  3. “The Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog also said the sisters were focusing too much on social justice issues, such as caring for the poor and advocating for immigrants, and were too active in promoting health care reform. It said the LCWR members should spend more time advancing church teachings on sexuality and abortion.”

    Advocating ROMAN CATHOLIC church teachings on sexuality and abortion.

    Now, why would anyone go to a prison guard to see about how to grow grain? What on earth would a man married to his religion know about …
    WOMEN AND CHILDREN?

    Ruff-ruff!

    Peace and Love

    • “The Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog also said the sisters were focusing too much on social justice issues, such as caring for the poor and advocating for immigrants, and were too active in promoting health care reform. It said the LCWR members should spend more time advancing church teachings on sexuality and abortion.”

      This is more media-nunsense.

          • Oh, I missed this William, and how might I be detached? Refusing to adhere to the ball and chain of Religious Mandates—especially patronizing venue? Because I am not Roman Catholic I am detached from reality? Because I am not a nun in a Roman Catholic order serving obediently the Vatican ethics of their gross distortion of Holy Scripture through same likeness with their superior headdress? Because I see that YOUR male ego serves for ignorance—especially in matters of Women and Children of which I am of both? Please be more specific in your comments or do not comment at all, because you share how desperate and deprived you really are.
            And tell me, please, are you another one of those militant RCs trolling the threads looking to show your Poverty of Love. I am sure the LCWR can help you with that; I hear they actually USE their minds for something more than satirical observation. Oh, God, and please don’t tell me you are a bishop. I have seen enough of those peddling their wares on these online venues, but I must ask … do you get PAID by the bishops for these comments? Just curious …

            THX

            Peace and Love

          • William,

            Oh wait! I get it … you are offended that I made the commented that a man is MARRIED to his Religious Institution! Does this bother you? How else would you put it, William? He, like S, is MARRIED to Jesus?

            :)

            Peace and Love

      • @rob,

        Wonder how you’d feel if the law told you that you did not own your body – and in order to save somebody else’s life we had to cut your kidney out and donate it – in the name of JESUS.

        Being a man with two kidneys, you must feel guilty every time somebody dies for lack of even one good kidney.

        But what do I know? I’m just a man who doesn’t want the government telling my daughter it OWNS her BODY MORE THAN she does!

        WOMEN NEED THE RIGHT TO OWN THEIR BODIES – REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES. Religion is such primitive, poisonous garbage.

        • When a women is pregnant it is not just her body she is dealing with, she has another person’s body growing inside of her. No person, man or woman, should have the “right” to kill another human being.

  4. I am sorry, your experiences have been negative. Mine have been incredibly positive. I am married to Jesus Christ, and my superior is a wonderful woman, who brings out the best in people.

    • I was never a Roman Catholic. The art exhibit was not advertised strictly RCC VENUE. Would you say they are guilty of something?

      But I am not angry. Did I not just say they did it to the right female?

      But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

      Peace and Love

        • “Then how the church get involved?”

          It was by invitation only—exhibit held at an Abbey. There was nothing in the contract about RC Doctrine (of their Faith). The artists and art—diverse. They received the Artist Statement well in advance …

          Based on the behavior of the Rc priests and their superiors, it seems they BELIEVE no female is permitted to share Spirit but them.

          GOD IS SPIRIT (John 4)

          I wonder when the Patriarchal Religious will get the message on the Samaritan Woman at the Well. What do you think Ms S?

          Peace and Love

          • “Based on the behavior of the Rc priests and their superiors, it seems they BELIEVE no female is permitted to share Spirit but them.”

            No, they do not. The superiors I am talking about are the women superiors in the LCWR leadership, who think nobody else can share the spirit, but them.

            The Samaritan woman at the well, recognized Jesus, as the Messiah and her encounter with him, changed her.

    • Suzy Spellcheck,

      What do you mean none of this matters? It matters a great deal to me, and this is my right.

      I am not Catholic. I am not OF Religion.

      It says … And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians FIRST in Antioch.

      God is not Religion. God is Spirit.

      The face of Christianity will change as will the landscape of religion.

      Peace and Love.

    • Sister Geraldine Marie, R.N.

      To Suzy: Just because some priests, ministers and rabbis do wrong, doesn’t make the Faith wrong. This sort of behavior has occurred throughout history regardless of faith or no faith, so you might as well condemn the entire human race.
      The real problem is those that SAY they believe but DON’T. “By their fruits you will know them.”

      Blessings!

      • @Sister Geraldine Marie,

        “just because some priests, ministers and rabbis do wrong…”

        1. The religion itself is immoral.
        2. The Catholic Church is a criminal enterprise: Pedophile Network kingpin of the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernie Law, is hiding out in the Vatican, protected by a State unto itself ‘Vatican City’.
        3. Whatever you do, don’t tell Atheists they must get their morality from religion.

        I advocate a due process of law to deal with this.
        Accused Priests should be handed over to an international tribunal or extradited.
        This must be handled peacefully and lawfully.
        I reject any argument to harm anyone – Just to be completely clear.

  5. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    It seems the LCWR sisters get all the positive coverage they want from the media. How come most of the stories about sisters are journalistically trash in that most of them do not include interviews with the nuns who have started their own group to stand up to the LCWR radicals. There’s two sides to every story and the story of the sisters who want nothing to do with the LCWR rarely gets told in the liberal media.

    • If sisters want nothing to do with the LCWR, the options are obvious. Keep serving in parishes and other communities and don’t get elected as a superior. It’s not terribly surprising there’s an undercurrent against LCWR leadership. Practically every pastor in Christianity has one.

      The CDF and the bishops have gotten bad press for a number of reasons. They try to defend themselves, but it doesn’t add up. Cardinal Muller states he is concerned about vocations, but seriously: is it any of his business? Isn’t this what the Congregation for Religious is for?

      It seems that women enter religious life looking for different things, and they have options of going to the cloister, or not. What isn’t news is strife between nosy bishops and women just trying to live a community’s charism. It’s been happening for centuries: men trying to stuff religious women into enclosures.

      Sure, John, there may well be stories of bad politics behind the scenes that will drag the whole discussion down into the gutter. But those are issues for women religious to settle. Not bishops. Not you. Not me.

      Prof Johnson is right: this is a waste of time.

      • There are women religious in the LCWR, who are being marginalized and denied a voice in important Community decisions. They are told “under obedience” to keep quiet, never to speak of it again and to get on board.

        These women religious need others to step in and help them.

        • Maybe so. But if this is true, why isn’t this a matter for Cardinal João Braz de Aviz? Why is CDF intruding on a matter that seems to be a minority of dissent within certain congregations? Why do these women need help from Cardinal Müller?

          • Cardinal Braz de Aviz has re-affirmed his commitment to the renewal of Religious Life, and particularly to the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR and the program of reform it requires, in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father.

            http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2013/05/07/vatican_statement_on_lcwr/en1-689880

          • And yet Cardinal Braz de Aviz had some problems with the CDF end-around, didn’t he?

            Why do seemingly intelligent, seemingly committed, seemingly holy people have such disagreements about style, tone, leadership, and interference? That seems to be a matter less for doctrine and more for simple communication.

      • Todd, Sister S, Justin, and everyone else: It is too plain that this is another battle in the ancient warfare between the sexes in the church. The men presume they have a right to dictate the ways religious women should live. And the religious women–and the rest of us–are proving that we don’t need men or ordination to pursue Jesus and share his precepts with others.

  6. Mr. Gibson’s write-up is slightly misleading; the concern of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not been that the nuns have been “caring for the poor and advocating for immigrants” (both of which the church officially does). Rather, it is mostly that that they have promoted ideologies and activities which contradict church teaching, and to a lesser extent that they have sublimated their religious role to a social-service one (drastically putting works before faith, essentially).
    Having been a nonprofit worker my whole adult life focusing on poverty issues, I assure you I’ve found nothing but support from all quarters of the Catholic church in efforts to care for the poor. This is a dispute of doctrine and hierarchy, not the Vatican picking on nuns for helping poor people.

    • I didn’t think it was either about doctrine or justice and service. Seems like politics: how to get rid of leaders disliked. Maybe people who have problems with their bishops should’ve gone to the CDF instead of the pope. Do you think Catholics upset with the administrative and moral lapses of bishops would get any traction in the curia?

      • “That seems to be a matter less for doctrine and more for simple communication.”

        Cardinal Braz de Aviz, had issues with how it was being handled, but not with the doctrinal assessment itself.

        Personally, I have no issues with how it’s being handled. I see genuine concern being expressed here, about the decline of religious life and what might be causing it.

        • I don’t think there’s any curiosity at all among most all clergy about the apparent decline of religious life. Many priests have no idea of the difference between women who serve in apostolic ministry or in a cloister. We know they don’t promote vocations for women.

          Rome, on the other hand, encourages a tattletale culture. If you don’t like select things about your Catholic life: liturgy or sisters or conference speakers, for example, just write the Vatican. There’s no incentive for people within parishes or religious communities to actually sit down, talk it out, and get along.

          And if you have a criminal for a bishop, never mind.

          I think the CDF and the bishops are in a bad way. If the LCWR doesn’t back down, they are powerless. Sisters will still have their theology misread, they will still meet in conferences. How meaningful is Vatican recognition?

          I suspect the LCWR would be open to a discussion on religious life in the 21st century. Sisters I know always seem to be interested when I show interest in them. Thing is, I don’t try to fix other people’s problems unless my opinion is asked.

          • The women in the LCWR do not need to be “open to discussion on religious life” with those Vatican men who never lived a religious life. The women of the LCWR could teach those “celibate” crime hiders in the Vatican a lot about goodness and justice. The LCWR should go its own way, tell the Vatican guys to mind their own business. Those guys in the Vatican don’t know anything real from real experience about living a religious, communal, apostolic life.

        • Don’t you realize that the so-called “decline of religious life” is due to a greater and altogether different, non-mythological knowledge of this universe. It is too obvious that more and more people have grown beyond the old mythologies that drew so many to so-called religious life.

          It is plain that it is possible to be fully religious without joining a so-called religious community. One can choose and pursue one’s own ministry and also pursue becoming one’s own kind of religious person, according to one’s personal talents, without joining a formal community.

      • Well, after advising people to go to the CDF, one must ask if you don’t realize that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is one of the congregations of the Curia–that is supposedly managed by whomever happens to be pope. But we’ve learned, as with civil governments, popes are not really masters of their administrations. Lots of free-lancers in the Curia. And there’s also the collusion between some curial favorites and various popes.

        John Paul II hired Ratzinger/Benedict, Benedict hired his friend Levada and then Mueller, his countryman. Francis allowed Mueller to stay. Francis even gave Mueller his red hat, at least pro-forma because that office has traditionally been headed by a cardinal.

        The Catholic Church is plainly “too big” and failing. It is beyond management in its current organization. That is precisely why there are so many free-lancers. The people in the pews have long free-lanced their own beliefs. Despite creeds, despite doctrinal declarations, despite catechisms, that has always been so.

        They are not murdered for their challenges to the official belief system now. And that is how it should be. Beliefs and their formation cannot be curtailed by any means. They are a natural, human right. It is just being demonstrated by more openly now because the church no longer has its old, harmful power over people.

    • When nuns wore long dresses and wrapped their heads, they had a very simplistic religious life, rosaries and such. Their main “apostolic” work was as teachers or nurses. A minority joined cloistered groups where their principal activity was rote prayer. The apostolates nuns pursue now are much more related to the Gospel because they go out to reach all people in their conditions, helping them as they can, and performing the ministries of Jesus in their midst, being examples of Jesus. And the male clergy no longer dominate them.

      It certainly is not necessary to be a nun to do this kind of work among those in need. That is why many fewer people are joining religious orders. Old ways die. That has always been so. New ways are devised. And new ways can be just as “religious” as old ways when the clerics of the church dominated the lives of everyone.

      Study the history of the sacraments and you will see how, when, and why they attributed power to the clergy over the lives of everyone else from the cradle to the grave. It should make you wonder, as it did Martin Luther, about that historical development. That is precisely why his search resulted in only the two gospel “sacraments,” Baptism and Holy Communion.

    • No, Justin, the concern is that the clergy (men) of the church are more and more being left out of dominating the lives of these women. It’s a plain sexist battle. And the men shall lose–as they should.

  7. The problem with the Vatican and Cardinal Mueller, sadly continuing under Pope Francis, is that there is no respect for people to study, learn, process ideas, and form conclusions for themselves. This misogynistic church must get over the notion that their self-promoting clergy have a right to interfere with the natural processes of people forming their own beliefs.

    Anyone who thinks Catholics all believe the same, despite dogmatic declarations, despite catechisms, despite the fascist tactics of Cardinal Mueller, his three predecessors at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Levada, Ratzinger, and Ottaviani, the whole curia, or the Apostolic Palace itself–even though Francis is wearing black shoes and living in St. Martha’s House–is downright deluded. Go back further, go back to the horrors of the “Holy Inquisition.”

    It’s ugly, it’s unreasonable, it has nothing to do with Jesus, it’s a continuation of the same abusive male domination that has always damaged the church. It is destroying the church now. In case you can’t see current events as the development of history, the Catholic Church is evaporating before the eyes of the world.

    As for the nuns in the Leadership Conference Women Religious, they should also tell the Vatican to go to hell. They are fully capable of determining how they will be religious in their own lives. They don’t need any Dark Age men in the Vatican dictating their lives. In fact, they could teach those Vatican bullies a lot about life, about religion, about human rights, and about justice of respect.

    The people in the pews should no longer sit there and accept this royal and false dominion by the hierarchy over their religious lives. They should join forces with the LCWR and demand full participation in church management from bottom to top, or stop filling the collection baskets, walk out the doors, never return, and form a new church in the model of Jesus of the Gospels.

  8. You have a group of old mostly white old men telling women what to do and what to think. Francis, himself, said that church was focusing too much sexualtiy and abortion. but I guess that doesn’t apply to Nuns because Nuns are women.

  9. I agree with the Vatican’s call for religious women to be more faithful, but I quibble with their tactics. The average age of these women’s religious groups is in the mid-70s. They have almost no new vocations and they will be gone soon as the older members die off.

    On the other hand, religious groups for women that are faithful to Christ and His Teachings are thriving.

    All the Vatican needs to do is to silence them and then let them die. Yes, call them to repentance but you can’t force repentance.

    • “All the Vatican needs to do is to silence them and then let them die. Yes, call them to repentance but you can’t force repentance.”

      Jeff Mayhugh, silence them and then let them die? Wow, what do you feed on? God is no respecter of persons—He shows no favoritism (ROMANS 2.11 … Peter in ACTS 10.34) … and PARTIALITY IS A SIN (see James 2). Do you really and truly believe God instituted the Vatican voice as superior voice? This is madness! There is an instability in the Papal sector that is not only ignorant, but Spiritually Immature. I do not even have to read the writings of the nuns in question to know that there is a chastising going on here, and it is NOT the LCWR being chastised ( not that I align in any way with their lifestyle, order or teachings). The world is watching and the Vatican knows this and they are now trying to soften their rhetoric. Folly!

      God is the delineator of Truth. Most believers have read …

      And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, Matthew 21.12

      What this is teaching is that Truth cannot be subject to the whims and solicitation of man’s ego, avarice and industrious suicide. The seats of them that sold doves is the position of those who sell “Gifts of the Spirit” for profit. Jesus cast out all that operate apart from Truth … cast them out of the Living (those of Light).The temple in this part of Scripture refers to the Lazarus “house” (Symbolic Understanding: the RAISING FROM THE DEAD THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT- See JOHN 11).

      Might I add that the Fruit of the Spirit is of Feminine Voice. One has only to know, very simply, in “religious terms” … that WISDOM (Sophia) is Feminine.

      Really gotta wonder on what John says in Revelation 2.4 :)

      Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

      Peace and Love

  10. Religious Congregations as a whole are an archetype of the Catholic Church, a reflection of what has and is happening in the Church at large and a precursor of where the Church needs to look to the future. The Vatican fails to recognize this at its own peril and at the peril of the whole Body of Christ.

    Yet we have hope that all this repeated denunciation of LCWR by the Vatican will spur LCWR to give up its fear of offending those who will never sanction its existence or its evolutionary worldview.

    We have hope that the Vatican’s repeated attacks on and arrogant dismissal of these brilliant and dedicated women will help LCWR to overcome its fear of being labeled heretic by a Church that is flailing in the present whirlwind of unprecedented paradigm changes in human consciousness.

    The old king/high priest/dictator mode of authority is antiquated.
    We need leadership today that speaks with the authority of authenticity, to speak as Jesus did, with courage.

    • “Religious Congregations as a whole are an archetype of the Catholic Church, a reflection of what has and is happening in the Church at large and a precursor of where the Church needs to look to the future. The Vatican fails to recognize this at its own peril and at the peril of the whole Body of Christ.”

      Lea, this is an interesting statement, particularly the first line, but help me better understand your vision as the “whole Body of Christ.” Are you saying this “whole Body of Christ” is ONLY within (only FOUND within) the RCC, or are you stating that the RCs as one Body within their belief in Christ is in peril?

      Thx

      Peace and Love

    • @Sister Lea,

      “We need leadership today that speaks with the authority of authenticity, to speak as Jesus did, with courage.”

      I have no dog in this fight.
      But…

      As an outsider looking at your problem – it appears you already know the answer. So what puzzles me is why you need to have that answer uttered by someone coming at you with ‘authority’.

      You appear to be asking for your own pre-determined idea to be sanctioned by someone else – someone who is deemed to be an ‘authority’.

      Do you not see the irony?
      You already are the authority you are looking for.

      • “As an outsider looking at your problem – it appears you already know the answer. So what puzzles me is why you need to have that answer uttered by someone coming at you with ‘authority’.

        You appear to be asking for your own pre-determined idea to be sanctioned by someone else – someone who is deemed to be an ‘authority’.

        Do you not see the irony?
        You already are the authority you are looking for.”

        Ah, Max, you hit the nail on its head! Yesterday, I discerned on what Lea wrote … and was waiting for one of these nuns to state this “obvious.” But, you see, there is fear in the ranks … and the LCWR is trying to build courage, and it is through comments like yours and others that this will be achieved.

        The RCC is fractured. I said once that there are more “protestants” in the RCC than there are Catholics, and later, I learned that Thomas Merton had said something similar (but possibly for different reasons :) Elizabeth Johnson—is she not another Luther? Even Catholics have said that Luther’s move was a necessary event. Stagnation is death. Insulation of Vatican ethic is a form of self-glorification and pleasure, which leaves the body bereaved. The RCC left its Mystical Traditions long ago, as well as its Spirit Arts. It is copy paste at this point—canonizing jp2? Really now! That is spitting in the face of the martyrs—the victims abused under his management (shepherding? hardly!).

        The RCC is in a roof collapse, and that “body” needs to get out from under its deteriorating headdress. The LCWR is of a group leadership of less insulated appeal, and seems to desire the Mystical elements of study and performance, should they realize this opportunity. This can and will draw interest from all within “catholic” influence. The Catholic Imagination is a force to be reckoned with—no denying this, if they can move away from the enigma and embrace Spiritual Wellness. Put away the things of a child … but be OF childish interest and desire—GROW in Sense and Reason.

        “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” is an indwelling Light attainable through Gift (that Mina spoken of in the Parables). What is society without the mad-eyed Artists? Society needs VISION or it will become brittle and irresolute. Through persecution evolves LIFE—that will to become something greater than yourself. The Vatican wants only its self title and power and uses the people. The LCWR, renamed, must refrain from the political arena, other than to render unto Caesar what is of Caesar … pay taxes, abide by the laws of safety and stability … but can demonstrate through the ARTS necessary change.

        LET MY PEOPLE GO that they might serve me …
        This is not a death sentence, Max, it is finding that Spirit Gift. Religion is merely a structured place for the continuation of _____.

        The Spirit Artists need VOICE—a place to be heard. The LCWR can be that port of launch, but they would need to open itself to men, that it might send a more cogent message.

        Peace and Love

  11. I had no idea that a lot of this to-do is about Elizabeth Johnson. Her book, _She Who Is_, is an amazing work, and I can see how the CDF would be put out by an organization that honored her. It’s a direct challenge to male-domination and male-centeredness in Christianity.

    It’s been a few years since I’ve read it. I think I’ll go back and pick it up again.

  12. http://news.yahoo.com/maine-mom-fights-state-over-no-resuscitation-order-145220451.html
    I suspect this will end up on the news board here very soon.

    I do not have an issue with the life support if the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine and the Christian League stated in the article are absolutely certain the baby is NOT in the pain described in the article, AND THEY TAKE COMPLETE AND FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF THE BABY, THE MOM, AND ALL COSTS INVOLVED IN THE PROPER CARE OF THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS.

    -and the dad of this poor child needs a great deal of help, too.

    So, nuns … what say you?

    Peace and Love

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