An Uppity Woman Prays for Answers

Honest to You, God, I don’t get You.

I mean, if You had told me anytime before noon today that I would end up feeling sympathy (a weird, twisted, highly reluctant sympathy, but sympathy all the same) for a bunch of schismatic anti-Semites, I’d have guffawed. But then came the release of the public report on the latest . . . I don’t even know what to call it, though Rocco Palma uses the term inquest, which is generally used to describe what happens when someone’s been whacked and everybody wants to know whodunnit, so I guess that’s appropriate . . . issued by Your Grand Inquisitor, I mean Holy Office, I mean Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As You know if You read conservative Catholic blogs as often as I force myself to (and You help You if You do), there is great joy in the heaven of the orthodox over the announcement that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been tried and found guilty of being uppity women, who now must be brought into line by a suitable cadre of anointed men. The glee of the righteous is profound, and typified by comments like this one at Catholic Answers Forums:

They just need to clean out that rats nest of liberal nuns. Disorganize ‘em. Break ‘em up. Do a Bishop Bruskewitz on ‘em. Give ‘em 30 days to disassociate themselves from the heterodox organizations, or get excommunicated. [Sic. And not satire.]

Even my friend The Hermit, the gentlest man in orthodoxy, told me he thought it might be best if the Church just let these older communities, which had outlived their usefulness long ago–obvious from the fact that they’re no longer attracting vocations–die of natural causes. For which statement (You know) I called him callous. And that (You know) is both untrue and unkind, but it’s the least unkind thing I want to say right now, believe me. I hope You forgive me, and that you move him to forgive me, too.
I am taking this all entirely too personally. I understand, swear to You, that the religious women involved in the LCWR are smart, competent, and passionate in their commitment to their call from You as they understand it–all those things being, alas, part of the problem, I guess–and that they will put on their big girl panties and rise to this occasion with no need for agita from me.
But Lord, You know better than anyone the buttons this pushes. You know that it was the uppity women of the Immaculate Heart who turned this cradle Catholic into a true believer, who spoke with Your prophetic voice the invitation to be a woman of faith and showed me what that meant. You know how much of my life has been shaped and nourished and inspired by religious women from many other active communities who lived in joy the full, limitless mystery of service. Yes, they questioned. Yes, they bucked authority. Yes, they were loud and unconventional and impossible to put back into the Bells of St Mary’s nun doll boxes.
You were there with the IHMs when they made the only choice the Archdiocese of Los Angeles would allow them. They gave up their canonical status, their livelihood, their homes for the sake of their charism–educating young women to be everything You call them to be. And You will be with the congregations of the LCWR as they make whatever choices they are allowed to make. I know that.
But I have to wonder, and ask, uppity woman that I am, whether this is really Your will, especially in the way it is being carried out. Is it really heresy to question the role of women in the Church? Are You mightily offended by the mere mention of some issues, like the possibility that women might lead, or that gay people might not be disordered? Do You really think it’s possible to put too much emphasis on social justice? (And if so, how much is too much?) Is feminism a deadly sin? Would You be happiest, Lord, if there were no women in Your Church at all, save those who were walled away in prayer, those who bore children, those who ironed altar linens, those who covered their heads and were silent in the assembly? Because I have been going around at great risk to my reputation, frail as it is, for sanity, insisting that You would not.
Since I came back to the Church and made my Profession of Faith I have worked hard every day to give assent of intellect and will to what the Church teaches–though most days, I gotta tell You, it’s like trying to play the Minuet in G using the Think System, and the results are just as discordant. I have been saying, in public places, that Your Church has not declared war on women, and I really want to believe that. Can You work with me a little here?
Or are my liberal friends right? Am I kidding myself? Is reverting to today’s Catholicism, for a woman whose faith is rooted in the Second Vatican Council, like going back to an abusive spouse or staying on the plantation after emancipation? Is it a physical and psychological and spiritual impossibility? Should I just die of natural causes and get out of the way?
That’s where the sympathy for the members of the Society of St Pius X comes in. I’m sure they must be asking some of the same questions from a (very, very) opposite perspective. Because the great irony–oh, that sense of humor of Yours–is that on the same day the Inquisition comes down on the LCWR, we get word that Rome just might finally be ready to welcome back into communion the SSPX. What’s being nosed about is the offer of a special ordinariate that would preserve the traditionalists’ right to celebrate pre-Vatican II liturgies. Whether the SSPX would be asked to yield on its refusal to acknowledge the value of religious freedom and other “Modernist heresies”–not to mention tone down the anti-Semitism of its rhetoric–and whether it would do so if asked, only You know. So here we have two extremes in the news–one in trouble for refusing to honor the spirit of Vatican II, the other for carrying it out too zealously.
My sympathy is reluctant, however, not just because I find the SSPX’s doctrinal positions distasteful (I don’t give a rip about their liturgical traditionalism; I think diversity in that area is a gift to the Church, not a problem), but because I think there’s something not quite kosher about the different way the two groups are being handled. The SSPX is frankly schismatic, having openly defied Church authority and even declaring that that authority has no authority, yet every effort has been made, for decades, to patiently and charitably coax the Society back into the fold. All communications have been privileged, and no texts released. On the other hand, the LCWR has never engaged in formal schism, yet the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith publishes 8 pages of accusations of heresy and supersedes canon law by subjecting the decisions of duly elected superiors to review by bishops. Nobody’s talking about a special ordinariate for the uppity women. Youdammit, that sure seems like gender bias to me.
Lord, You know me. I’m not defending heresy, no matter what gender commits it. I don’t begrudge the new traditional women’s religious congregations their (relative) booming growth; I recognize the appeal of the cloistered life of prayer. (Stop laughing, Lord.) And in spite of the very real angst this day has brought, I’m (probably) not going to rerevert. Instead I am going to keep praying for Your comforting, enlightening, unifying, totally unconventional and out-of-any-box-whatsoever Spirit to come rest upon and uphold and guide the women of the LCWR, the SSPX, the bishops and others involved in various inquests and oversights and negotiations, the Grand Inquisitor, and Your whole Church, so that Your will might be accomplished with the least amount of crap possible.
And I am going to pray, You help me, to be able to wake up just one morning and not wonder if I’m nuts to be Catholic. Listening hard for Your answers, Lord, and trying not to script them for You. Amen.

  • Mike E.

    Thank you…I was thinking about the disconnect in the announcements all day. Great piece.

  • Brian Sullivan

    You have given me much to think about. For both the LCWR and the SSPX there is the example of the saints (I'm thinking St. Francis and St. Catherine of Siena)who recognized the need for reform but drew the line at disobedience. It's not always easy to know where that line is. Maybe the best advice is:Let nothing disturb you.Let nothing make you afraid.All things are passing.God alone never changes.Patience gains all things.If you have God you will want for nothing.God alone suffices.~TSt.Teresa of Avila

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for your well appreciated blog. I tend to get all over the map when I get really upset. You managed to deliver the message of how so many of us feel in the perfect and least over the map way possible. Thank you again so much for having done so.JF Garneau

  • Max Lindenman

    I have all the same questions, but no such fine words in which to ask them. If you get any answers, please pass them along to this swaggering, misogynist brute, please.

  • Julie D.

    I was thinking of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Francis of Assisi … and their examples of obedience, charity, and … ultimately reform. But in using Christ's way, not their own way. That is what makes all the difference, really. Certainly in my own life, which is all I can control. And I appreciate your honest questions because I have several good face-to-face friends who will be feeling the same frustration … and this helps me keep their feelings in mind too. :-)

  • Anonymous

    My daughter goes to Catholic school. It is so rare to see a nun anymore that the first most students see of one is on rare special trips by sisters to the school. Whatever you think of the orders in LCWR it must be admitted that they are not attracting new members while more doctrinaire orders are.

  • Bro. AJK

    Dear Joanne,I'm a Brother in a religious order that has a great presence in the area you now live. I am like you. Both extremes in the LCWR commentators do not have the charity needed in this conversation, and that has been driving me batty. One crowd says, "They can't do now wrong!" and the other says, "All they do is bad!" So, both seem to be committing the same sin, pride. I find your post most helpful as it is humble, like a daughter asking for help understanding the situation. Ah, our God loves irony, doesn't He!Anyway, I wanted to address some points. One of these is the "drive the order into extinction" question. This attitude bothers me, as it does you. I know charisms (gifts the orders offer to the Church from the Holy Spirit) come and go. Perhaps some charisms' times are up and these orders are diminishing as it is the will of God. Others are in need of renewal, so the numbers might be small now and yet will rebound later. The first attitude above (extinction), fortunately, does not say, "Let's not support these sisters." Thankfully, at least from those whose comments suggest that attitude understand that these women now need the Church (us) to help them as they helped us in their lives.Second, what frustrates me as I read articles about "LCWR can't do no wrong!" is that the LCWR may have caused scandal. In this case, I mean that some of its statements may not have had the needed clarification to prevent confusion among the numerous sisters (and by extension all they came in contact) over places where doctrine differed from views of individual speakers. This needed action did not come. (I wonder if the CMSM-the men's counterpart-does likewise.) This doctrine piece is of great concern in the 8-page document. Doctrine in formation, doctrine in presentations and publications. It seems that the LCWR is accused of not properly forming its members to understand and teach Church doctrine. The document does not blame anyone (although I'd argue that it obliquely casts blame on the bishops, but that's another story.)I'm still sifting through this, but you have my commendation for this post. It encapsulates a lot of my feelings about this. Thank you.

  • Joanne K. McPortland

    Thank you, Br AJK. I'm still sifting, too, and in my post yesterday I made some of the same points you make in this comment, thanks to friends who provided other perspectives. I agree, and very few have mentioned this, that there are ways in which the CDF document is aimed as much at older US bishops as it is at the LCWR, perhaps for contributing by benign neglect to a climate of confusion in which questioning crosses over into dissent without being noted. It's tricky, because canonically these communities are not directly under the authority of bishops, so people who say the bishops should have intervened and cleaned house are demonstrating a mistaken understanding of how this stuff works. But I don't think it's entirely disingenuous of the sisters to believe they were being prophetic when others would call it heresy. Everybody (including this CDF report) blames "bad catechesis" for what they think is wrong with the Church, and I used to take umbrage, having been involved in catechetics for more than 40 years. But now I think there's truth there–not so much bad catechesis as no catechesis from the bishops whose first-line responsibility it was. But that's another post. :) Thanks for sifting with me.

  • Mary Johnson

    Joanne, I just discovered your blog–and I think it's terrific! Thanks for sharing those thoughts and that sense of humor, and for struggling on the page with issues that matter. I'm deeply saddened by the Vatican's attempts to control the good women of the LCWR. Having been a sister for twenty years myself (in the Missionaries of Charity, the group founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta), I can only imagine how these sisters feel. I bet your blog will cheer any of those good sisters who have the good luck to stumble upon it, as I did today!

  • Brandy Miller

    I think the problem is not in the questioning, but in the lack of obedience to the Church while seeking answers. Birth control is, and has always been, against church teaching. It's okay to question why and to seek answers. It is not okay to support and promote it. Abortion is, and has always been, against church teaching. it's okay to question why and to seek answers, but it is not okay to support and promote it. God loves to give us answers, but when we rebel we show ourselves unready to receive them.

  • MariaLouisa

    I don't have much to say that will help, other than that I hope you come to peace over this and with reconciling to some of the doctrines of the faith that are at odds with what you might intellectually hold true, but to clarify the SSPX/LCWR situation – I think that overtures have been made to SSPX because while they were on the verge of schism, they have always adhered to the faith. They have not become heretical, and while their obedience has been lacking, they still recognize that the should obey. I think the LCWR (as a group, not necessarily individuals in it) has gone in the other way, and hence the different treatments. To second Anonymous, I am a teacher's assistant at a Catholic school, which I knew was founded by an order of nuns when I started. It wasn't until 2/3 of the way through my first year at the school before I realized that some of the nuns still live on the property, because they don't wear habits and are no longer involved with teaching at the school. When I had seen them, I'd simply assumed they were grandparents of students visiting because nothing about them identified them as nuns. And it is also the case that they haven't (at least in this part of the country) had a single vocation in literally decades. Conversely, there are quite a few orders in this country (in Europe), both cloistered and non-cloistered, but all habited, that are booming. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with nuns who do not habit, but there is an unwitting correlation in my own head with nuns who don't wear habits and potential doctrinal squishyness, partly due to the behaviour of some in the LCWR. So I hate to add to your distrees, but I think it's worth considering that the Hermit may have a point.

  • Joanne K. McPortland

    You have not added to my distress, so no worries. But you have given me something I want to steal: "potential doctrinal squishyness." Thank you!

  • MariaLouisa

    No worries! Unfortunately, it's something I have to deal with a lot, so I'm probably coming at this from a different angle from you. Pretty much every time we take the kids to Mass, we end up having to do mini-theology lessons on why what happened isn't exactly what we really believe! But I just read your follow up and I'm glad that you are feeling better about the whole thing.

  • Wine in the Water

    I think the situation with the LCWR and SSPX are amazingly parallel. I think it is less that they went different directions on the "Spirit of Vatican II," but that there is a serious strain in both that reacted to a "spirit" of the council that was contrary to the reality of the Council. Neither organization is heretical really, yet both harbor people who embrace heresy and both are less than fastidious when it comes to addressing error-prone ideas in their ranks, and have even fostered them. So you have pro-choice nuns and sede-vacantist priests. You have an embrace of women's ordination and an embrace of antisemitism. Ultimately, the problem facing both organizations is the same: truth to the exclusion of truth. Both organizations have put such an extreme focus on some truths of the Catholic faith that they have neglected and even contradicted other truths of the Catholic faith.That is why neither organization can be painted as all wrong, despite the fact that both organizations tolerate and even promote error in the face of Truth. That is why the response to both is essentially the same: embrace the entirety of Catholic Truth, not just the part you like. To me, it is a sign of hope, the Church is treating all deviations from Truth the same, with a call for orthodoxy.

  • Jack

    Could I say something here?The garb of holy poverty is expensive! A Carmelite brother I know told me that his ONE habit cost $225; it had to be made outside the community. Don't even ASK about the Orthodox monastic habit!And don't forget, most women today did NOT learn how to sew when they were girls, as happened once upon a time. "Holy obedience" does NOT convey skills or abilities one lacks to start with. This was the big mistake in religious life before V2.Which is more consistent with religious poverty? Habits that cost hundreds of dollars today, or a pants suit from a thrift store?

  • spera

    Thank you for this post. I hurt as well. These nuns have done the works of mercy for years. Should they not get our gratitude, and any mercy in return. Last Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday. How ironic.

  • Centurion 9.41

    Joanne,Most people don’t "get" God, save Saints. But let me offer a few observations to your prayer. You used the word "I" or "I'm" 52 times, out of a 1400 word prayer; and I'm counting all the words, e.g. "to", "the", "and", etc. That's 3.7% of the words, may not sound like much but when a word is part of a sentence… With such a focus it is extremely hard to "get God".You wrote "I understand, swear to You, that the religious women involved in the LCWR are smart, competent, and passionate in their commitment to their call from You as they understand it".Well smart, competent, passionate and as "they" understand it are ALL strong attributes of demons and guys like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. "Faith, Hope and Charity", as well as "Charity is patient, Charity is kind, Charity is…" well you get the idea, were all changed to "love" after the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit you cling to sank into the Catholic Church.I submit to you that you have great Faith and Hope, and love. But maybe it is the loss of true Charity that you and the others in LCWR have experienced?I'm sorry but the Catholic Church, the Catholic Faith, the mission of Christ, and most importantly your salvation has nothing to do with you getting God.Satan did not turn away in a state of Joy. Maybe your emotions are blinding you to the better part Christ is offering you now?Maybe your emotions are a sign of a deeper blindness of Faith and Hope?I truly hope you get what I'm saying.AMDG, peace & prayers,Centurion

  • Anonymous

    Max, I read you, and Elizabeth, and Joanne and Marc, and Tito and so many others every day. We are all struggling. We just have to be obedient in the end. Remember, humility, humility. That is the hardest thing.Lots of questions. Lots of problems. We are a very big tent in the end. Lets all pray it can hold us all in the end…

  • Bro. AJK

    Dear Joanne,To clarify a point you made: "[C]anonically these communities are not directly under the authority of bishops."Many times, bishops in the US forced sisters to sever ties with motherhouses in Europe and reorganize into diocesan orders. This practice ended, fortunately, but not soon enough. Hence the multiplication of sisters' groups like the Franciscans, Ursulines, and Dominicans. That said, religious orders can only be present in a diocese by permission of the bishop.

  • Joanne K. McPortland

    Thanks for the clarification, Bro. AJK. I did know that last part, having been a student at Immaculate Heart HS in LA in the 1960s when the IHMs had their contretemps with Cardinal McIntyre. I was referring to internal governance, which from what I understand still rests canonically with duly elected superiors.

  • Anonymous

    Really? Hitler, Stalin, and Mao? WHY DOES SOMEONE ALWAYS HAVE TO DRAW ANALOGIES TO HITLER? This is not an appropriate reference in the context of an otherwise reasoned discussion about deeply personal, highly sensitive, angst-ridden issues.And one could argue that salvation has everything to do with "getting" God, not in the sense of comprehending the Mystery of the Divine Being, but in the sense of recognizing the Risen Christ for who He Is. Salvation depends on recognizing Christ walking along the shore, appearing in the back room, and ultimately, in His Living Body– the Church. Many of His flock, myself included, struggle to "get" Him, to recognize Him in this body, every day. It's a struggle, it's painful, it's prayerful. Let's leave the Hitler and Mao call-outs to the cable news pundits, shall we?

  • Mariaemma Willis

    Thank you, Joanne. You always manage to say what others would like to but can't find the words…you always have the words. Somehow God will take care of all of it. To keep sane myself, I always think of the Catholic Church the way I think God meant it to be. I don't know if that makes any sense but it keeps me from going crazy about it.

  • adele young

    Commenters might want to check out how the LCWR in general and the IHMS in particular got to where they are today …the history of the whole mess we are in at Kathy Schiffer's blog, WE OVERCAME THEIR TRADITIONS AND THEIR FAITH over at Pathos/Seasons of Grace or at Tito Edwards The Pundit has it also. Hint: the name Carl Rogers playsa gigantic role here where religion was replaced by therapeutic psychology. A most interesting and informative post. By the way I think Joanne that if approved the SSPX, if approved will be given a prelature (like Opus Dei) not aordinariate (like the Anglicans). There is a difference I believe.

  • Philomena Ewing

    Readers may find this link an informative and balanced perspective. Written in 2009 but still relevant.

  • Anonymous

    Just a quick question. You discuss that the two groups were handeld differently. I understood that several of the bishops of SSPX were excommunicated albiet automatically. I tell you what. I would much prefer a harshly worded report and a bishop assigned to help bring me back in line than to be excommunicated placing my soul in danger. Did I misunderstand this?Thank Our Heavenly Father that there are men and women wiling to give their lives for Christ whether in contemplation or in service. The most important thing is their salvation not their clothing. I can try dressing as a LA Laker but it isn't going to make me one. I do not understand why but God made us with creativity and free will. A lot of people use this to harm themselves. He gave us the Church to try and teach us how not to. Would have been easier to make us so we didn't do harmful things but maybe that is the challenge. To be more than our parts.Thank you for the post.

  • Mariaemma Willis

    I totally agree!

  • Mariaemma Willis

    Seeing as Jesus is our ultimate model for choosing love of neighbor over orthodoxy, it seems bizarre that there is any arguing over this at all. And, by the way, for those who mentioned "obedience to authority above anything else" – even in a Catholic grade school with strict nuns in the 1950s I learned that in the end your conscience is your final guide and your decisions are between you and God – no one else can judge.

  • Anonymous

    So your own individual conscience can't lead you to do anything wrong? Jesus taught a whole lot of stuff and the context of that stuff is pretty important. I am guessing that the lessons in the 50's relied on a formed conscience with an understanding of the teaching of the Church to make sure we didn't find our way into sin. Let's start at the beginning. Why did Christ create the Church? To lead souls to Heaven. All the stuff in this world is of this world and our aim is eternity not Tuesday. Maybe the Church is most concerned about the souls of these religious and the people they teach and help. I am asking just what if…what if that was the goal of this whole process. Not to oppress anyone or get the money but really and truly out of love for these women, the Church wants to stop them from doing some things that place their soul in danger. If the Bishops knew that these things were happening and these souls were in danger then they must act out of Love. So the real problem here is why did the bishops not love these women enough to stop these grave errors years ago? I am all for a shame on the bishops for that one.

  • LP

    I think this gets to the heart of the corrections. It is tough to take, but important to be done, because the fact of the matter is that doctrinally, these sisters (in the various ways cited, and these ways only) have not represented the actuality of what the Church believes (again, in the particular doctrinces and instances cited, only). This is a dis-service to innocent recipients of their ministry to whom they *embody* the Church's teaching. My heart goes out to them, as I know many times the misinformation did not originate with the current sister but with her formator, professor, or spiritual director. It's a systemic problem. That said, the Church's works of mercy STAND as a CORE illustration and embodiment of love – so nothing of the true good that the sisters have shown is undone in this – nothing. The Church would do well to make that much clear to these women. I fully support the efforts to correct and purify. I hope much good can come from all of this.

  • Jim Dobbins

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting. I am glad Elizabeth had a link to it in her article. To me the issue is obedience to lawful authority. Not just blind obedience but obedience in settled matters. When Jesus formed His Church He gave it a teaching authority for a reason. Along with that teaching authority comes an obligation on all our part to conform our conscience to that lawful authority. Throughout all of scripture, God has consistently emphasized how important obedience is to him. We see this in Genesis and the blessing God gave Abraham in the account of his willingness to sacrifice his son because God requested it. We see it in God's dealings with the Chosen People as they crossed the desert during the Exodus. On down to the New Testament in which we see it in John 14:23 where Jesus says, "If any man loves Me he will keep My word…", Jesus referring to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth, Jesus' own obedience in the Garden and during His Passion, and the penalty for disobedience suffered by the couple in the Acts of the Apostles who held back property after having been ordered to pool all their resources. Argument over matters that are not settled is good and healthy because it helps shape the truth. Defiance of settled matters is something else altogether and must be addressed. Such disobedience is an affront to the lawful authority and a rejection of the truth that the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus identified as the Spirit of Truth, is guiding the Church. I have had the opportunity to visit some of the convents of the sisters associated with this movement, and their halls were adorned with statues of Buddha instead of Mary and Joseph, and in conversation they vehemently supported abortion, women priests, and recognition of active gay lifestyle as normal and acceptable. I also witnessed them praying to the Goddess Sophia. These matters are not trivial and must be dealt with because these women do not live in closed societies but work actively within the lay community and teach these things as good and right, even when they are not. The laity has been very poorly catechized for the past 40 to 50 years, and some of these women were the victims of that, but that does not mean we should continue to teach error and support liturgical abuse. It is time to begin the correction of error, and I hope these misguided sisters will have the humility to accept the correction and move forward accordingly.

  • Joanne K. McPortland

    Respectfully, Kathy's piece gets quite a bit wrong, perhaps reflecting William Coulsen's change of heart over the years. The IHMs are not a mess: they continue to be faithful women who continue their order's mission as a lay institute, and who are fully integrated into the life of the Archdiocese. They are not goddess worshiping feminazis. They continue to educate young women to be both faithful and thoughtful. The pioneering encounter groups conducted among the IHMs and their students in 1967 by Carl Rogers and his associates were not the impetus for the IHMs' contretemps with Cardinal McIntyre, but a response to it, an attempt–certainly flawed, but that was the nature of the times not only among sisters but throughout society–to help the community members who had chosen to transition from professed religious life to the lay apostolate to do so with some measure of reflection. The sisters did not seek release from their vows; they were given the choice to give up their educational charism and engagement with the world or be canonically suspended as a religious order. The overwhelming majority chose, regretfully and painfully, to give up canonical status. A handful of sisters–most of them retired and infirm, though by no means the majority of the elderly members–retained their religious status and habits and were rewarded with a lavish mansion in which to live out their days. The other IHMs lost their teaching positions in Archdiocesan institutions (they retained the high school and the college, which belonged to the community) along with the living quarters attached to those institutions. Many retained a semblance of communal life in apartment buildings. Some eventually married (as was their right as laywomen), but most continued to live as they had before the change. Immaculate Heart College was struggling to maintain attendance even before the changes, as were many small Catholic colleges, and eventually the burden of maintaining the property and staffing the college became too great. The high school, however, has flourished, and now includes a middle school. There were indeed some emotional repercussions from the Carl Rogers experiment, but I can tell you firsthand it was not a deliberate attempt to break the sisters' faith. I know that, and everything else I've said here, because I was in the room–I participated in the encounter groups as a 16-year-old student council officer–and lived across the street from the mansion given to the sisters who remained in religious life. Hindsight is always 20/20, but sometimes even it can benefit from the corrective lens of someone who was there.

  • Gail Finke

    Hello, I have never read your blog before and I am very interested in what you have to say. I came over here from Elizabeth's blog. To me, one large difference between the LCWR and the SPPX is that the LCWR is a relatively small group of women, and the SPPX has tens of thousands of members. The LCWR represents women's orders in the United States — and not all of them, at that. The SPPX has members in many countries. The LCWR promotes some unconventional and, frankly, bizarre ideas (I read the bio for the keynote speaker at the next annual conference and let me say that, as a Catholic, I really see NOTHING that a person who thinks she can transform consciousness from evolutionary randomness to some sort of directed super-consciousness has to say that could be remotely consonant with the Catholic faith) and the SPPX wrongly emphasizes actual Catholic beliefs and practices. A great many of SPPX members do not know that they are in error and, in some countries, their membership has to do with cultural and political trends as well as religious belief. The LCWR know very well what Catholic belief is. I think Elizabeth has it exactly right: A lot of things happened after Vatican II that need to be reoriented. This is painful for many people who must be corrected, and it has been painful for many other people who left the Church, and it has been painful to many people who stayed and saw others straying off in odd directions. There has been plenty of pain all around. But we are all fortunate to live in a time where the pain is mostly to our emotions and to our pride. It is hard to be obedient when we don't see the reason for it. But no one is requiring us to convert to another religion to get a job, or to drop our religion and swear an oath to a crown or a government. No one is executing our priests and religious, no one is disbanding our monasteries. I don't rejoice to see anyone's pain but I am glad that there will be corrections.

  • DA

    Buddha and a reminder of Buddha can be a vehicle that some of the nuns have used for meditation, yoga and the like. A presence of a reminder to remain calm, recollected, and in the present is not all that bad. As for "supporting gay lifestyles" – it is not a "disordered" condition as the Vatican would have us believe. Look around – many gay priest serve us well and are loving and caring priests. Now the Church does not understand they have protected pedophiles and let us get off the gay bashing! God loves the gays – He made them – and for a reason! They have as much right to be in the Church as do straights. Let us not judge them. As for women priests – welcome them. There is a MAN MADE law that prevents women – not a divinely inspired one. Go back in history – women have been marginalized and it is the men (hierarchy) who have treated nuns as "servants" and "handmaids" – little regard for them as people, educated women who have been entrusted to caring and educating our children. This is all about power and control. if there is an errant one or group – address that rather than impose male dominated ideas, control etc. that Benedict is wont to do. This is a screaming reversion to the 40's and 50's – stop the world!

  • Jim Dobbins

    Dear DA, I think it would be a good thing for you to examine Sacred Scripture on this point. It is not a Church-made ruling that the gay lifestyle, acted out, is disordered. There are many,many references in scripture, the inspired word of God, from Genesis to the New Testament,telling us this is wrong. Among the New Testament writings, for example, St. Paul tells us that a man shall not lay down with a man as with a woman. This is a form of fornication, not to mention other issues, and he also says that fornicators shall not enter the kingdom of God. The answer is in scripture. All the Church does is conform her rule to the rule of God. This is not to say that a person so inclined is condemned. It is only sinful to act out on the inclination. This is a heavy cross, and my heart goes out to all those who have to carry this cross, but with each cross comes the grace of God to deal with it. Our job is to accept and use the graces God gives us to deal with our crosses, regardless of what kind of cross it is. It is also irrelevant that there are priests who are gay, a condition that should never have happened if their formation had been what it should have been. Properly formed, they would never have been ordained, but for many years we had activist bishops who were themselves disordered and allowed or even encouraged this to happen. An actively gay priest lives in a continual state of mortal sin, and commits a mortal sin every time he offers the sacrifice of the Mass. They are in great danger and we should pray for them.

  • Anonymous

    This is simply unthinking noise and regurgitation. You have one view of the world and no level of facts or discussion will change that. Both ends of the spectrum are so narrow in their thinking. Of course you can't be wrong it has to be someone else. This is why Jesus preached humility. He knew because he created us that we love to hear our own voices.

  • Joanne K. McPortland

    This is a first warning: Please read my comments policy and follow it. Comments should be brief, respectful to other commenters, and on topic. I reserve the right to delete comments that violate these guidelines or to close comments entirely. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Okay I must apologize. My last post went outside of charity. Steve M

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