Quote of the day

“Recently, while watching some Catholic sniping and squabbling amid these internet comboxes wherein I dwell and make my living, I noted a particularly dramatic note of victimhood being voiced in one channel and fervent, mustachio-twirling glee emanating from another, and I suddenly realized why opera is an art-form created and first-sustained in Catholic cultures. We do love our arias and our grand, sweeping themes.”

– The Anchoress

She goes on to make some great points about the LCRW.

Check it out.


  1. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Deacon Greg, I wonder what your choice of this picture is saying: perhaps, that the members of the LCWR are like Bryhildrs, warrior princesses, who need to be subdued.

  2. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    No, HMS. Building on Elizabeth’s notion, I’m saying that some commenters — here and elsewhere — are divas.

    Present company excepted, of course. :-)

    Dcn. G.

  3. As an opera fan, I love the picture.

    As to the post, I have been thinking about this issue for a long time. I think that one of the biggest contributing elements to the polarization in society as well as within the Catholic Church, is the increasing trend in recent years to be mixing so much religion into politics. I did not like it when it was fundalmentalist Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, back in he ’80′s. I heard them criticized many times from Catholic pulpits. However, it seems that our bishops have decided to take the same path.
    Why do I dislike the politics/religion mix so much? Politics everywhere is complicated, especially in a democratic society. Throw into the mix that the USA is so ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse. Religions by their nature normally adhere to “all or nothing” points of view on the subjects on which they take stands. Increasingly, religions are taking stands on more and more things today, more than ever before in modern America. “All or nothing” thinking however, is paralyzing to politics. It causes gridlock, and nothing can be accomplished. Politics is the art of the possible, not dogma or ideology. Every issue should not be “all or nothing” in the Church, nor in politics. However, it seems that it is worse for society when it has taken over the political realm.

  4. I guess it is an opera…LOL. Well let me add to the operatic conflict. Since you have a different set of readers on your blog, here’s what I said over at Anchoress:

    “George Weigle is right on. The absolutely best assessment I’ve read so far. As I reflect on some of the opinion pieces out there, as I reflect on that NPR discussion, as I reflect on the PBS interview, as I reflect on the one pro-abortion nun that I know, I move further and further into the position that the LCWR must be radically reoriented or completely disbanded. This is an organization that has gone rogue, evolved to something that does not reflect Catholic teaching, and is incompatible with the Church. To be even handed in criticizing LCWR is to project a sense of credibility to their efforts. I don’t care that they have done good work. Many, many, many Catholic organizations have done good works, and if they are gone many, many, many Catholic organizations will continue to do good works. What distinguishes the LCWR is their radical feminism. Contemporary, radical feminism is incompatible with the Magisterium. We shouldn’t beat around the bush.”

  5. Barbara P says:

    Manny please explain to me what you and the Vatican mean by radical feminism. And is there such a thing as radical masculinity?

  6. Mark Greta says:

    Peter, the foundation of this country was built on religious freedom which put a wall around the government to protect that religious freedom. The second part of that of course prohibited the central government from proclaiming a state religion with the thinking at the time that it not be like the pronouncement of the anglican Church of America or the Catholic Church not wanting to bring old wars to this country. That is what prompted the famous letter to the Baptist Church where the words separation of church and state were used assuring the Baptist that the government would not name the Anglican as the state church to end their fears. Government had a wall of separation around it that kept it off of any and all religious beliefs. Little did they ever think that the government would not only violate that led by the courts in a full assult on religion, but that the state would name a religion, the secular godless religion where tolerance of any and all evil was the seemingly only religious tenet. The Founders almost to a person said that without the freedom of religion, without the wall around the central government, the government that had been built would not work. Thus when in the 1950′s the assult by the courts to legislate a change in the amendment as written occured, our government year by year started to fall apart, not because of religion, but because the government and courts took the cornerstone and foundation out of the building out. Instead of a country where all rights can only come from our creator, now all must bow down the God of big government. When we are dealing with great moral evils, without the strong input of through the freedom of religious beliefs from all religions, and the wall around the government in these areas, we have had the wrong moral choices forced on every person in every state under the banner of tolerance of every evil. What worked for our country for generations has been pulled apart and thrown over the cliff.

    If this new program, thrust on us without vote for amendment changes in each area, had been given to the thirteen colonies to vote for, there would not have been a United States of America. The bill of rights was essential to that vote and the first amendment stated those items that were imperative to getting it passed.

  7. Mark Greta says:

    I feel for the Bishops assigned to this new task. They have been given tweezers with the cancer to be left in place during the procedure when a scalpel should have been used at this point. The ability of the Church to move decisively in the world of universal instant communications around the globe has not much changed since the days of sailing ships. It failed us with the priest scandal when Bishops did not act decisively. I know the Church should be one of mercy and second chances, but when there is abuse of children or abuse of the doctrine of the Church in open and consistent dissent which can impact the faith of those under the care of the Church to gain eternal life, the Church seems to need some faster and more decisive way to act. It seems like we have the congregations in place and it is a heiracrchial church which means there should be authority to decide and act rapidly. Something prevents us from acting and it is hurting the Church. We also are in a great time of hatred toward the Church where even a stumble is viewed as the greatest calamity since the inquisition.

    I will never waver from full support of the Catholic Church and the teaching of this wonderful church with clear attention to not only what she teaches, but how the teaching comes down to us from the Pope, as non negoatiable or things we can listen, form our conscience, and act. Many of these nuns, who clearly know the teaching of the church and those open to dissent, have chosen despite vows, to openly dissent and thus to lead people away from Christ true Church. Many years of study was used when it would have been very easy for most Catholics to send in a list of openly dissenting nuns in this group along with their own statements gathered in about an hour and from this make a decision and end the dissent or our communion with these nuns. Instead, after years, we have this farce of the three bishops who will be crucified for daring to deal with a woman. Too long and to ineffectual an action never works out well. We should be learning something without having to have the lesson hammered on our heads for decades.

  8. I can’t speak for the Vatican. But here’s a start from Wikipedia:

    “Radical feminism is a current theoretical perspective within feminism that focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on an assumption that male supremacy[1] oppresses women. Radical feminism aims to challenge and overthrow patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and oppression of women and calls for a radical reordering of society.[1] Early radical feminism, arising within second-wave feminism in the 1960s,[2] typically viewed patriarchy as a “transhistorical phenomenon”[3] prior to or deeper than other sources of oppression, “not only the oldest and most universal form of domination but the primary form”[4] and the model for all others.[4] Later politics derived from radical feminism ranged from cultural feminism[1] to more syncretic politics that placed issues of class, economics, etc. on a par with patriarchy as sources of oppression.”

    As it pertains to Catholicism, radical feminist through the justification I quoted above, believe that an abortion is a fundemental choice to a woman, that the priesthood be open to women, that gender is a social construct, and so there is no justification to prevent homosexual marriage. I’m sure there is more that I’m not thinking of.

  9. Barbara P says:

    By your definition radical feminism does not accept patriarchy and challenges patriarchy. Wikipedia defines patriarchy as a system that makes men because of their gender the central rule of power and women because of their gender submissive to men. Patriarchy has nothing to do with the issues you mentioned. According to Wikipedia the word patriarchy comes from the Greek meaning “rule of the fathers”. Manny certainly you don’t support a patriarchal society? As for the Church the question that has to be prayerfully considered is whether it is right to maintain its patriarchal system where men rule over women solely because they are men. This is a separate question from the ordination of men only since ordination and the authority to rule are not really the same thing. In other words accepting that only men can be ordained does not mean that women and men who are not priests should not have a role in the governance of the Church.

  10. Barbara P says:

    One more thing, based on your definition there doesn’t seem to be anything radical about radical feminism.

  11. Barbara P says:

    Sorry I meant the definition of radical feminism you provided from Wikipedia not your inclusion of abortion and same sex marriage etc. which I don’t see as part of the Wikipedia definition.

  12. I hear lots of misogyny in folks who in 2012 get all worked up about about waht they call “radical feminism.” Most of these folks yearn for the return of the nuns scrubbing the floors for Father and Monsignor, and acting as nannies to Bishops and Priests.

  13. Some media persons have speculated that there is a connection between the so called “overhaul” (John Allen’s word) of the LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the visitation of the U.S. communities of women by Congregation for Religious, which began a few years ago and has been completed, the results of which have not been released.

    However, the issues with respect to the LCWR and the Vatican go back a while. I think that it may have begun around the time that Sister Theresa Kane R.S.M., a past president of the LCWR, made her famous plea to Pope John Paul II for the inclusion of women in all ministries of the church, including the ordination of women, during his visit to the United States in 1979. It is interesting to note that Cardinal Levada was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1976 to 1982) during that time.

    It would not surprise me at all, if the discussions between the LCWR and the three bishops appointed by the CDF do not go well, the results of the visitation will be released and it will not look good for those communities that have membership in LCWR.

    Something else that bothers me: Archbishop Sartain, who is the leader of the episcopal team designated to oversee the reform of the LCWR, has a sister who is a Dominican Sister of St Cecilia (Nashville Dominican). The order is, for want of a better term, traditional, and has membership in the organization, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) with which the CDF has no issues. It seems to me that that in another venue one could legitimately call that a “conflict of interest”. (The order of which Mother Mary Clare Millea, who was charged by the Vatican with directing a three-year study of U.S. women religious congregations, is superior general, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also has membership in CMSWR.)

  14. midwestlady says:

    Radical feminism isn’t just that women learn to appreciate their own lives and live them in a feminine way, which can certainly be done, no matter what discipline the woman is engaged in. Radical feminism is aggressive towards maleness and seeks to supplant it or subvert it with another focus or another message, and in doing so, becomes as bad as any radical male-ism that might ever have existed.

    Example: I’ve spent my career in science and engineering. There is still a strong male atmosphere in science and engineering. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong; these disciplines were male reserves for decades before women entered them. However, as many women know, there is a particularly female way to do science and engineering, where women bring their personalities, strengths and experiences to bear on the subject in their own characteristic way. This is part of what PJP2 might have called the “feminine genius.” It often makes women uncommonly successful and enterprising because it opens new ways of doing things to the discipline. This is a good thing. But it’s a thing that needs to be done gracefully and productively, as we participate. It’s meant to make science and engineering more validated, more productive, more useful. It’s not something to fight over or terrorize someone about.

  15. midwestlady says:

    The core part of religion deals with religious truths. While it is the case that our appreciation of truths can change focus and increase over time via theology, there aren’t strictly male and female versions of religious truths. Truths are what they are, and interpretations of them can’t conflict on the level of basic analysis because they’re basically tautological in structure. They just are–by definition. We know that by means of revelation.

    So radical feminist theology that contradicts the Catholic Church’s theology is a big problem for the feminists if they are Catholic because they have a series of contradictions to deal with. They haven’t dealt with these, so apparently this has become our problem temporarily until we get those who are willing to amend themselves straightened out. This is the LCWR issue in a nutshell.

    On the non-core level of social or cultural understanding, I’m not sure that some of this is so much of an issue, as long as it’s not flowing from the aforementioned core contradictions. I say this because I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of Catholic people who are going to be somewhat surprised when this whole thing is completed. The sisters are not all going to return to wearing funny shoes, bald heads under veils, medieval dresses, while teaching grade school for next to nothing. I hope people realize that. There’s nothing particular radical about that. The Church and the world has moved on.

  16. midwestlady says:

    Mark, an approved religious congregation can be of “Pontifical Right” or “Diocesan Right.” If a religious congregation is of Pontifical Right and has historically been given entry into a given diocese, a diocesan bishop is very constrained, by canon law, in his dealings with them. He cannot step in and discipline them; he cannot shut them down. He can only do that to congregations of “Diocesan Right” that are located within his own diocese.

    Many of the women’s congregations in the LCWR have Pontifical Right status, obtained in the 20th century. This is why it was necessary to rule on this at the level of the CDF and why it was necessary for the Vatican to open an investigation and appoint Bishop Sartain and his helpers to do the job. This is how it’s supposed to work. I am sure they have been vested with the ability and the clout to do what they need to do. Not to worry.

    NB: Pontifical Right status means specifically that a congregation is approved by the Holy See but that the Holy See has full rights over it, and can cause its constitutions to be re-written, if need be, and the Holy See can even shut it down, if need be. We hope these things can be fixed, brought around to where they need to be and we don’t need to, as a Church, shut them down. We don’t want that; rather, it would be better if they recovered their true charisms and contributed properly to the mission of the Church.

  17. Barbara, we all know radical feminism exists. I’m not happy with that definition either, but I decided to go to a less controversial site for a definition. We know that radical feminism isn’t just about equal opportunity for women. It’s about destroying gender roles altogether.

    You ask, “Manny certainly you don’t support a patriarchal society?”

    I refuse to accept that premise. The word patriarchy is not in my vocabulary. My world view envisions gender roles, and previous to the industrial revolution men had specific leadership roles, and I would say it’s for obvious reasons. Every single civilization – and let me emphasize that – EVERY ONE – had a male leadership society. In a world where physical strength counts for a lot, men will become leaders. That’s the norm as defined from the garden of eden. In a world where industry allows for non muscular work to excell, then quite rightly women can take on greater roles. Old feminism pushed for those greater roles. But old feminism still maintained gender identity and specific feminity. Radical feminism has redefined sexuality so that there are no gender identity. Or at least in their vision they’ve redefined it. But reality is reality and gender roles do not go away.

    Midwestlady – thank you for your comment. I’m a mechanical engineer and yes I know what you’re talking about. When I went to college you could count on one hand the number of women in the mechanical engineering department. Today there are a good number more, but the ratio are still overwhelmingly male.

  18. midwestlady says:

    I fail to see how there are any conflicts of interest here. The items that are listed in the letter from the CDF as problems are:
    1. Addresses at LCWR assemblies, mentioning “…problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors.
    2. policies of corporate dissent, “regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons…”
    3. radical feminism, “including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus…”

    These would be problematic no matter where they were found. To put it succinctly, this is not about habits; this is about theology, doctrine, teaching and the practices sisters take into the world as Catholics.

  19. midwestlady says:


    People are also conflating the TWO separate investigations that were done. There was a doctrinal assessment of the LCWR proper, and a separate program of visitations of women’s religious orders, congregations, institutes societies and other consecrated women’s organizations. They are separate actions, although they may be related in my opinion.

    We have, so far, seen the outcome of the LCWR assessment. The program of visitations will not receive their final report until later this year. I don’t know how public the results will be. We shall see.

  20. midwestlady says:

    Yes, that’s one of the things that people have to understand here. This is not about wearing habits and it’s not about working as a schoolteacher for virtually no pay. This is about theology and doctrine and how these things affect the consecrated actions of those in women’s religious congregations.

    ie. New age presenters at annual meetings, New Ways ministry, moving beyond Jesus, etc etc.

  21. midwestlady says:

    Yes, Manny. I don’t need to tell you that there have been inequalities in history. But it is what it is. All that is over now, and we work side by side.

    There really is more than one perspective in the world, particularly when it comes to science, engineering and other experimental, non-doctrinal disciplines. In fact, there are more than two views! This is so because science is about discovering patterns in nature and validating those patterns, not about validating the discoverer. Engineering is about the creation of technology to serve business and the world, not about engineering social boundaries. I think we have all discovered this now, and we are all better off for it. Science and engineering certainly are better off for it.

  22. Barbara P says:

    So Manny are you saying these nuns support no gender identity? I dont support a societal structure where men are the leaders because they are men. Does that make me a radical feminist?

  23. Barbara P says:

    I still don’t understand the basis for the Vatican’s decisiin that these women are “radical feminists”

  24. midwestlady:
    With respect to “conflict of interest,” I was referring to Bishop Sartain’s sister in CMSWR.

    From time to time I fill out questionnaires. I am asked: “Do you have a family member in the media, e.g., journalism, etc. I have to say that my son is a journalist and I am rejected from participating.

    Re your comment:
    HMS: “People are also conflating the TWO separate investigations that were done.”

    I think that is exactly what I wrote. Wasn’t I clear?

  25. midwestlady says:

    Barbara P,
    This has to do with the fact that some sisters have reportedly stopped attending mass because they have claimed the overt patriarchal involvement of the male priesthood is too high for them, coupled with the general acceptance of agitation for women’s ordination inside many congregations.
    The CDF also cited particular political action groups closely affiliated with the LCWR that have similar thrusts, as well as other radical agendas, paid for and supported by the LCWR.
    There are also “feminist theologies,” formulated as alternatives to the Church’s theology, which contradict the Church’s theology. Some of them are more feminist in tone; some are more New Age in tone; some are both.

    You can get a good flavor for all this by looking online for the LCWR speakers at past annual conferences. That stuff has moved around a bit online but you can still search and find some of it. You can also read exactly what the CDF has said, because it’s posted at the USCCB site.

  26. midwestlady says:

    You were clear, I’m sorry. My apologies.

    However, I think that you can’t claim just a blanket “conflict of interest” like the news media would like to do. The matters at hand are not tangential details like mode of dress or details of household practice. Rather, the differences between the CDF and the LCWR are differences in statements of elemental doctrine and theology, things on which no religious congregation can deviate and remain in union with the Catholic Church. We’ve finally come to this.

    As just one illustration of what’s been going on: The keynote speaker contracted for this year’s LCWR conference was Barbara Marx Hubbard, a New Age guru who runs the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, whereby seekers hope to reach “infinite potential” by their own practices and belief structures. This is part of the “moving beyond Jesus” routine. If that doesn’t sound weird to you, it should. It’s real tin-foil hat territory.

  27. midwestlady says:

    I don’t know how public the outcome of the visitations will be, but many Catholics believe on the basis of their own experiences and on the basis of the outcome of the LCWR investigation, that the same sorts of things will certainly be found. A lot of that can readily be seen online too.

  28. @Barbara
    You asked:
    “So Manny are you saying these nuns support no gender identity?

    I believe that’s the root of their world view. Yes.

    ‘I dont support a societal structure where men are the leaders because they are men. Does that make me a radical feminist?” ‘

    You didn’t live in a pre industrial society. You can’t project from here what you would have supported 300 years ago. The vast overwhelming majority of women supported male leadership in pre industrial society.

    By the way, does that mean you don’t support male only priests, bishops, and the Pope?

  29. Mark Greta says:

    Had to go back to find what my wife Greta wrote over the years on “radical feminist”. She ran an amazingly successful company and certainly ran into men who did give her the respect due her on the business side, but she also utilized her femininity to often take some of these same gentlemen to the cleaners. What she wrote was about it was centered around anger and the desire to turn women into victims by many on the left that she found in the radical feminist movement. It seemed to her to be angry at the place God game them in life in being the one gifted by God to bear new life thus the major urge of the radical feminist to support blocking God from creating life and supporting the murder of babies created that got in the way of the radical feminist agenda. They seemed to treat pregnancy as a disease, something to be avoided, which by that same nature then grew to detest men who were seen as the cause of all their problems in this area and in every other way that things did not work out. On the political side, they were intolerant of anyone who disagreed with their agenda which created the battles between them and women that chose to stay home and have kids and bake cookies. Radical feminists caught exposed have been those like Hilary Clinton with her bake cookies remark which was in your face radical feminism. We just had this in the news again with the Rosen comment about women staying home as she tried to attack Mitt Romney’s wife.

    Bottom line is that everyone who is not a radical feminist can easily see that one is in their face when it happens if one dares to even mentione the term. It is what drove them crazy about Limbaugh, not one of my favorite people, but probably accurate on the feminazi’s and their outright anger. You also can spot one in the Catholic Church when everything they disagree with is because of the male priesthood and the fact that even now, with this accepted teaching forever in the Catholic Church, they are still dancing around the issue with their other hate filled dissent.

    From my perspective, I feel sorry for them and offer up prayers for them to one day lose their ongoing anger in life. It is certainly not very attractive to have this anger as a man or a woman and I say that as a person who fights that battle many days in my life. It is my number one thorn in my heel. My anger is directed at the death camps and the party of death that keeps them humming and legal as the most evil thing in human history simply by the numbers of babies killed and women harmed in the process and I think radical feminism has a strong part in this over the years.

  30. Barbara P. says:

    I come from a family of very strong women going back generations. From what I know of my grandmother, I cant believe that any of my female ancestors supportd a male dominated society. I accept male only priests.

  31. Barbara P. says:

    From what I have been reading online, the statements you are referencing are being taken out of context to make it seem worse then they are.

  32. Barbara P. says:

    can you send me some cites to support what you are saying?

  33. Barbara P. says:

    I have been giving alot of thought to this discussion and I am wondering if you think the Catholic understanding of male gender identity includes this patriarchal dominance over women. It interesting to me because I do not see the men I know including this in their expression of their male identity. I wonder if the fact that priests do not marry and for the most part are not involved with women on social or professional levels, make them – for want of a better word – cling to this patriarchal ordering of roles.

  34. midwestlady says:

    Not at all. There is a lot of evidence. And many lay Catholics also have evidence of huge amounts of New Age involvement. That’s why there’s so much sympathy for Bp. Sartain among many pew Catholics. We’ve seen the soltice ceremonies with drums and the Sufi poets and the labyrinths and all of it.
    On top of what we’ve seen now we see Barbara Marx Hubbard and “moving beyond Jesus.” These are not isolated coincidences. It’s a very broad pattern and many Catholics are aware of it. Indeed, many Catholics are wondering how it could have taken so long to address this. This has been going on for decades.

  35. midwestlady says:

    I have no idea what kind of a blanket indictment this is supposed to be.

  36. Priest are not involved with women on social and professional levels??????? I will have to make the priests I know aware of this.

  37. midwestlady says:

    Don’t you have Google? Search with this phrase: “An Invitation to Systems Thinking:
    An Opportunity to Act.” You can search for “Barbara Marx Hubbard LCWR” or “2007 LCWR Conference Keynote” or “Laurie Brinks.” Go for it.

  38. midwestlady says:

    Not at all, Barbara. Manny & I are talking about engineering which we both know on a personal level as practitioners.

    However, you don’t find many extremely feminist women in engineering, not because of maleness or femaleness or anything like that, but rather because we actually drop all that nonsense and make products. We don’t have time for the kind of nonsense that feminism is; it’s not “value added,” in engineering parlance.

    And actually, there really aren’t very many extreme feminists out in the world where a person actually has to get along with people and make some money. Extreme feminism is worse that “not value added.” It’s not a useful or particularly logical construct on a lot of different levels.

  39. midwestlady and Manny;

    My college major was Chemistry, B.A. in chemistry. (Thank goodness for a Liberal Arts college.)
    When I told someone about my major and the later degree, MS. in Chemistry, she said: “You must think like a man.” I told her: “No, I’m logical.”

    For the record: My Liberal Arts background in Philosophy and Theology in a Catholic college stood me in good stead when I changed fields to Theology.

  40. Like I said, the word patriarchy is not in my vocabulary. There are gender roles – motherhood the prominant one. In today’s secular world women can do any job they want if they qualify. There are a few jobs (such as a fireman) where I don’t think they qualify for. Priests are male not because of patriarchy, but because that is a gender role prescribed by God.

  41. LOL. All this time I thought you were a man. You sound like a man in your writing. You write logically. :-P

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