First Reaction from the LCWR UPDATED

UPDATED: Exhibit A for Explaining the LCWR Report.

Writers on all sides of the ideological spectrum have been chewing over the welcome news that the dissident Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be reformed, so I won’t rehash the story here. You can find the full Doctrinal Assessment here, and read Rocco’s balanced coverage here.

I was curious to see how the LCWR leadership (which is nothing if not completely predictable) would react, and they do not disappoint.

The National Catholic Reporter got hold of an private email from the LCWR. In it, the leadership expresses shock that the report was made public, which was precisely that last reaction they should have if they’d been paying any attention at all. Beyond this, they’re not saying much, but don’t count on them going quietly into that good night.

They posted this on their website:

The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise.

This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.

The LCWR is a toxic organization that has slowly poisoned the church since the 1970s. Founded in 1956 as an umbrella organization for the leaders of various women’s religious institutes, the group was merely supposed to serve as a resource for about 1,500 nuns in leadership positions. Instead, it began setting up a kind of alternate magisterium, complete with open dissent from basic points of Catholic doctrine, particularly abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. A group founded to aid in the Church’s mission in America has instead worked against key elements of it for almost 40 years.

They do not represent the 60,000+ women’s religious of America, but rather a small, elite cadre of left-leaning leaders who openly break with the church. Many orders belong to the LCWR merely out of habit (so to speak), but feel as though they have no voice in the organization. They largely ignore them as a noisy embarrassment.

I know for a fact that many, many of their rank and file members are appalled by them. I’ve talked to and interviewed nuns who have been waiting for the Vatican to do something for a long time. The situation got so bad that John Paul II established the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious as an antidote. The cure didn’t take, however, and the LCWR presided not over the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which they insisted would follow from their “prophetic” witness against their own Church, but the radical decline in religious vocations. Right now, the only orders with healthy vocations are the traditional, habited orders better represented by the CMSWR.

I respectfully have to disagree with Fr. Z, however, who suggests that dissolving, rather than reforming, the group would have been a better idea. Dissolving the LCWR simply would not work. Its leaders would remain in place, and it would have gone on–perhaps under another name, but with all of its infrastructure intact–sowing dissension. By prescribing oversight, however, the Church is able to exert some level of control of the group (which, it must be recalled, was founded by the Church, not the nuns) while shooing the dissidents into the corner where they can be safely ignored.

This is not some strike against women’s religious by the Vatican. The Vatican has been infinitely patient (too much so) over the years as they pleaded with the LCWR leadership to stop sowing confusion and remain faithful to the consistent teachings of the Church they vowed to obey. The leaders had plenty of opportunities to avoid this, but their monstrous vanity would not allow it. They are now reaping what they have sown.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Scalia writes with her typical reason and wisdom about the subject. It is indeed tempting for a blogger looking to score some cheap rhetorical points to mock hippie nuns in bad pantsuits and bid good riddance to them. I try to avoid that, because I know how much good work many of them do. I am careful in writing about the issue to always cite the leadership of LCWR as the key problem, not the entire body of US nuns and sisters. The report makes that much clear as well. This is the reform of one group that has gotten out of control and lost their bearings so much that prominent voices in official capacities can envision moving beyond not only the Church, but Christ.

I dislike this idea, implicit in Fr. Martin’s Twitter effort, that the criticism of the leadership of the LCWR is somehow a criticism of American women religious as a whole. The LCWR is the equivalent of  a professional society for school principals or CEOs, there to provide training and leadership formation. This is not about American women religious. This is about a tiny, noisy slice of their leadership that has lost its way and no longer understands its role in the universal Church. Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with issuing position statements on politically divisive issues and building labyrinths.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    Wow. I hadn’t been following this, but good for the USCCB. Strike another blow against the People’s American Patriotic Catholic Association.

  • Ryan J Hilliard

    My hope and prayer is that these women will repent and be converted, however too many of them are so far gone, truly believing they are prophets, as they have declared themselves for years at the LCWR annual conferences. Like the Pharisees, they have created their own legal fictions like, “responsible dissent,” to assuage their consciences.

    In some ways I can’t fully blame the sisters. They were encouraged by many bishops and priests over the last 45 years to continue down this path. And rather than being disciplined or taken to task, they were elevated to important positions within diocesan offices, hospitals, universities, seminaries and so forth. I find it hard to believe the heads of the LCWR are “shocked” at this news, but perhaps they truly are, after decades of being rewarded for disobedience.

    Nonetheless, it will be an interesting showdown. Who will be left standing when this is all said and done?

    -Ryan J Hilliard

  • James

    For decades, now, these nuns have been touting their rebellion against God and His Church, (do ANY of them believe in the Divinity of Jesus?) but I have noticed they are a bit tight lipped about who their member congregations are. If you believe in your cause, shouldn’t you say so and identify yourself with pride? If anyone has a list of the LCWR member congregations, please post it so that I know who not to give money to. Thank you.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I would advise against “punishing” member groups, because membership is often simply automatic and not active. This group, which I’ve worked with, is a member, and you will not find more faithful nuns:

  • Sarah Broderick

    Men, men, and only men seem to be embracing this news. You men are the reason I no longer want to associate myself with Catholicism. The LCWR is one of the only organizations that I still admire in the Catholic community.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    It’s simply false that only men are embracing this news. I know women, including nuns, who are quite happy, but don’t let that inconvenient fact get in the way of you pretending to speak for all women.

    And just why do you admire them? What is it that you think they do? I’m not talking about women religious and the fine work they do: I’m talking about this one heavily politicized group.

  • Catherine

    Well, thats an extremely prejudiced remark if ever there was one. Clearly you missed the part in the post where Elizabeth Scalia (ahem, a woman) was cited in her response to the Holy Sees mandate. I also am a woman, and agree fully with the decision of the Holy See. I’ve seen tons of women commentators on articles around the web on this story supporting the Vatican as well. So no, it is not men, men and only men embracing this news, as much as you want and would love it to be.

  • Elisab

    This is wonderful news to me… I am a woman, hear me roar! Went to St. Catherine University (back in the day when it was the College of St. Catherine) and had a hard time swallowing the Christianity they were selling then… Fighting their ideology has made me stronger though…. I’m glad the crackdown is coming. May Christ reign over his Church and may the sisters truly love him, learn of the dignity that the Lord teaches, not the one afforded by politics and man, and come into obedience of Church teaching. Praise the Lord!

  • Michele Z.

    I’m a woman, and I absolutely applaud this move. Thank God for Pope Benedict. This was a long time coming!

  • Dave Gutekunst

    As many priests have explained to me, doctrinal issues are really about consistency with a book that represents the revealed word of God.

    Why does the Church preach intolerance toward homosexuality? Because the good book says so.* Why are women incapable of holding the priesthood and higher leadership positions? Because the good book says so.*

    * This book also provides explicit directives for how to manage your slaves, and under what conditions you should stone women.

    Thankfully, the church is occasionally inconsistent with the good book. Go sisters!

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I doubt very much that any knowledgeable priest has ever said any such thing to you, since we are not a “Religion of the Book” and he would have learned that his first year in seminary. The Church created the Bible, not the other way around. We are guided by both Scripture and Tradition, and our positions on subjects such as homosexuality and the male only priesthood are guided by scripture, natural law, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit acting through the Church itself. We are not Biblical fundamentalists, but you go right ahead flogging your ignorant “how to beat your slave” lines that get all the big high-fives on Reddit. Don’t bother clouding your mind with too many facts. An encounter with the beauty of truth, and the truth of beauty, might lead to a conversion, and you wouldn’t want that.

  • Dave Gutekunst

    Oh, clearly I misunderstood your sophisticated theology. It is the Holy Spirit which told the Church that half of the population is incapable of leadership. My fault.

  • Dave Gutekunst

    More importantly, Mr. McDonald, you clearly don’t comprehend the point I was trying to make. Of course the Church was correct to move beyond slavery and stoning non-virgins. That is precisely my point: that morality transcends the Bible and that homosexuality and gender equality are issues where religion needs to move forward.

    But, while I have your attention, PLEASE explain to a simpleton like myself just how natural law contributes to the Church’s bigotry.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    First: define bigotry for me.

  • Dave Gutekunst

    It’s really not too difficult of a word, Mr. McDonald, but if a definition helps you understand, I will oblige:
    bigotry (n.) The quality or condition of a bigot; obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, practice, faction, etc.; intolerance, prejudice.

    from Oxford English Dictionary (

  • Dave Gutekunst

    bigot (n.)
    1. A religious hypocrite; (also) a superstitious adherent of religion.
    2. a. A person considered to adhere unreasonably or obstinately to a particular religious belief, practice, etc.
    b. In extended use: a fanatical adherent or believer; a person characterized by obstinate, intolerant, or strongly partisan beliefs.

  • Lisa Z

    Satan is slowly and methodically planting seeds to create division in our world, I think we can all agree on that. Our Catholic church is not immune to it and here is another scandal to add to the list of reasons to mistrust . Anything that creates division, rage, fear and doubt is not God.
    With that said… I believe there is way more to this story than meets the eye and it saddens me the division and confusion its sure to create. Let’s unite in prayer first and keep judgement aside, especially knowing how media is, really.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Obviously, it WAS that difficult a word, since rather than telling me the meaning of a word you used to characterize me (which I presume you understood as you used it), you cut and pasted two separate dictionary definitions with three meanings among them. Were you not able to explain all your own what you meant when you used a loaded word?

    In any case, let’s just take your usage to be akin to “intolerance,” although what you actually are conveying is “person who disagrees with me, an obviously more enlightened person.”

    I don’t see how setting standards for admission to the priesthood rises to the level of bigotry. There are multiple standards, several of which eliminate me from any possibility of being a priest. Even people who meet the standards may be turned away after a period of discernment for reasons of skill or disposition or health.

    Your obvious issue is that you see this the modernist lens of sexism and power politics: the church hates women and thus is afraid to give them power. (I’ll leave aside the lie at the heart of this claim, since the Church has given women authority and education in the face of societal norms for a couple thousand years.)

    The basis of the male only priesthood is not complicated, and does not required long theological answers, which you wouldn’t accept anyway. 1) the priest is functioning in persona Christi, and Jesus was male. 2) Christ called only men to be apostles, and the priesthood is an extension of the apostolic role. 3) the church early on understood this to mean that, although women were among the first, and often most important, witnesses to the ministry of Christ, they were never counted among the 12. They have a different role, no less important. 4)The Church has no authority to ordain women, because doing so would overdue 2000 years of consistent teaching that was never in any doubt whatsoever.

    The bigger question is: why do you care? It’s not your church. This is nothing more than a rhetorical club you use to beat a religion you find beneath your contempt. You don’t care about this from either a female or a Catholic perspective. So why bother? Why not lurk in Muslim or Orthodox Jewish comboxes railing against them for their male-only imams and Rabbis?

  • Dave Gutekunst

    Mr. McDonald: I used a dictionary definition to be as precise as possible, and to lessen the possibility that you would attack my interpretation. Clearly my suspicion was correct, as you continued your ad hominem, just in a different direction, by attacking my reliance on a credible source. Your 4-point defense betrays your lack of self-awareness, and only underscores the fact that I really did need to provide formal definitions for you. You outlined in some detail just how your church stubbornly adheres to repressive, irrational rules whose purpose is to retain power for one group over another.
    I did not, in fact, attack you. I do not even mean to attack your church, which continues to be capable of so much good. Rather, I ask why it persists in its bigotry. That question remains unanswered.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Don’t be absurd. Of course you attacked both the church and myself. Calling someone a bigot in 2012 is like calling someone a racist. You expect me to sit around and play rhetorical footsie with you while you insult me with a loaded word like “bigot”, which you persist in using even after I explaining the quite logical theological basis of the church’s teaching?

    By the way, you interpreted my answer exactly the way I said you would: with an interpretation based on power politics. Your question was answered quite thoroughly with my four points. You interpret those points as “bigotry”, adding “repressive” and irrational”, which assign a value proposition to them that has nothing to with their independent merits. I particularly liked “you continued your ad hominem” when I neither started nor continued any ad hominem, but merely responded to your original ad hominem in characterizing an ancient teaching as bigotry.

    You may think you can control the language by using loaded words, and thus control the debate, but that doesn’t actually work with people who know the substance of the point being debated. In any case, I gave you an answer, you ignored its substance, and continued with insults. Conversation over. It’s been fun.

  • Catherine

    Really Dave? First, you come onto a Catholic blog and shamelessly attack Church teachings, making the large but very tired and old accusation of the Church being “bigoted” and “intolerant”. That’s just rude. Thats like going into a neighbors house and thinking that its your place to attack and unravel the established customs and system of belief that are practiced under that roof, without even knowing what those customs mean. Then you completely ignore Thomas’ clear and concise (and i would say really just scratching the surface) explanation as to why the Church teaches a male only priesthood. I mean, your approach is not simply tactless, it is downright rude and fanatical. But, any Catholic will tell you, we are used to this kind of trash treatment from outsiders. What surprises me more and more each day, in a good way, is just how willing Catholics continue to be in maintaining a dialogue amidst such insults and unfair treatment.

    If the issue of the male only priesthood is so important to you, why don’t you actually address the issue beyond just your own subjective opinion? Do you know what a person is who just rages on in their unwavering conviction without seeking to understand or discuss the other side of an issue? Do you know what that is? Intolerance, prejudice…and dare i say, BIGOTRY.

    The male only priesthood is not some arbitrary rule that was made up 2000 years ago and then bluntly and blindly enforced without apology since. It has always and continues to be a deep and VERY important issue for the Church which hundreds, if not thousands of people have taken the time to treat delicately, rationally and comprehensively. The Church is not being intolerant by maintaining this doctrine, it is being CONSISTENT and very rational and has explained it very comprehensively for those who truly care to understand it. And less is it a doctrine meant to concentrate and maintain power, although its hard for someone to see that when the only lens they are looking through is a modern liberal political lens.

    It’s not to say that your objection is not an important one, because it certainly is, but you cant raise the objection and then dismiss any explanation or attempt to discuss it further. That is bigotry. And if you let yourself see beyond that intolerance, maybe you could begin to understand the fact that the Catholic Church actually, you know, cares about preserving and continuing to live in the true heart and spirit of Jesus Christ, our God and savior. Instead, keeping in style with all the liberal establishment and rhetoric, you very erroneously assume that the Church is to operate like a modern democratic political institution, pandering to popular opinion, even it if means rejecting the very Christ it professes.

    I suggest that if this is a real and important issue for you, rather than just railing against the Church, why dont you actually take the time to learn a little more about the issue (there is a lot written on it) rather than just clinging to your beloved hatred of the Church? And to bring up another point of Thomas’ that you completely ignored: why do you really care? What does this Church teaching have to do with you and why single out the Catholic Church? I’m sorry, but i smell intolerance and anti-Catholic bigotry all over your posts, and frankly, its nauseating.

  • Dave Gutekunst

    Mr. McDonald: For a Catholic, you don’t know your Latin very well. An ad hominem is a personal attack. I did no such thing.

    Catherine: you show your ignorance by calling me a bigot. Did you read a single word I wrote about the goodness of the people in your church? I will say it again: I oppose the injustice perpetrated against women and homosexuals. The church is better than that.

    The idea that the Catholic church is the object of bigotry is laughable, but I acknowledge your apparent request to join the Poor Oppressed Victims club. I imagine that the rest of the members will be curious to know when you can host a meeting, and which of your grand cathedrals (built on tax-exempt land, paid for by indulgences and tax-free donations) is most appropriate for expressions of self-pity and sanctimony.

    For the record, I oppose intolerance, injustice, and anti-intellectualism wherever I see it, not just on your little website.

    Good day. It has been fun refuting your shrill claims.

    [TLMcD: Please note that a reader 1) wandered onto a Catholic site, 2) insulted the host and the Church multiple times, most recently by failing to understand the meaning of "ad hominem" (it means "to the man", and refers to insulting the opponent--as when you call him a bigot--rather than addressing the points under question) and then claiming his ignorance of both Latin and rudimentary debate terms proves the ignorance of his interlocutor), 3) demanded an explanation for an ancient and consistent church teaching, 4) received that explanation, 5) ignored it and denied that he'd received it, 6) insulted some more people, and 7) slithered away in a huff, never having acknowledged that his question was asked and answered, thus proving that he never WANTED to know our views: he just wanted to slap us around a bit. And we're the bad guys.]

  • Catherine

    @Dave – These make believe refutations of yours have been great fun, i agree, almost as fun as your cookie cutter disagreements on Church teaching. It’s too bad there was actually no dialogue, but i guess comment boxes on little Catholic blogs are better suited to trolling than to exchanging real ideas. Take care.

  • Dave Gutekunst

    There really has been a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. I did not call you a bigot. I wrote that the church is guilty of bigotry. Please re-read what I wrote. Nowhere did I call you a bigot.

  • Todd Flowerday

    I can’t see this as going anything but badly for the bishops and the CDF. A lot of money and bile was expended to investigate women religious. And while these women are no spinmasters, they do have a significant chunk of lay people behind them. The bishops as a group are tainted and hobbled by scandal. And their thin reading and lack of comprehension on workshops I don’t think they attended is not going to play well.

    For people who cheerled the investigation, this pronouncement is more snatching a pyrrhic victory from the jaws of defeat/Archbishop Tobin. In a way, this just puts things back to square one.

    For women religious, they don’t really need the bishops, do they? The LCWR was formed at Rome’s request in 1956, and I’m sure there are no brownshirts on the prowl to make sure Sister A and Sister B don’t get together to discuss Lectio Divina or yoga or whatever.

    As for the title of the post, well, the religious are doing exactly what I’d expect community-oriented and prayerful people to do. If they all went into screaming fits, the conservative blogosphere would not doubt rejoice in it. And failing that, there’s always the polyester schtick to trot out.

    All in all, a most unimpressive week for the Catholic Right. I almost want to ask: is this the worst they can come up with?

  • Ctrent1564

    In what way will this go bad for the Bishops and CDF? For faithful Catholics, not that we are all Saints, far from it, but those who believe in the Faith and Morals as taught by the Catholic Church as stated in the CCC, this is a breath of fresh air. It will only go bad in the eyes of the secular liberal press and their allies in the political establishment of the democratic party and other secular liberal institutions, which in the end does that really matter? Since it was a rhetorical question, the answer is NO!.

    As Cardinal George recently stated in response to the his and Cardinal Dolan of NYC and the USCCB crticism of the Obama mandate towards Catholic Hospitals and a question posed by a liberal reporter asking Cardinal George “Do you claimt to speak for all Catholics? Cardinal George responded something to the effect “No, I don’t speak for all Catholics and have never claimed to do so, I speak for the Apostolic faith and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; those that embrace that faith fully will rally to it” on the other hand, “those that do not, will disperse!”. Let the LCWR disperse, it is no longer Catholic.

  • Todd Flowerday

    CouncilT’64, my assessment is that this adventure is more about politics than about faith and morals. Bishops can be just as flawed in their assessment and execution of politics as anyone else. And for those who choose to isolate themselves from the body of Catholics that lives, breathes and works in the real world (like most women religious) they might have a predilection to error on that front.

    How will this go badly for them? Most likely on the political front: the upcoming November elections, fundraising on a diocesan level, and mainly to reinforce a well-deserved reputation for incompetence if not immorality earned by the mismanagement of sex predators. Bishops could be working harder on reconciliation, and on rebuilding their moral credibility. So-called faithful Catholics are also upset about child abuse and the enabling ot it. That’s a far more grave matter than someone’s conference talk taken out of context. I don’t agree with many particulars of what happened at this or that meeting of women religious. But they have the religious freedom to engage speakers and discuss as they see fit. Religious freedom: now there’s a topic the bishops might do well to tackle, eh?

    I think what rankles many is that there are significant numbers of Catholics who respond to rants with a shrug and we do not disperse. We are all saints-in-the-making, and as such, though being far from perfect, many of us have no intention of dispersing. Sooner or later you have to deal with it.

  • Ctrent1564


    The sexual abuse crisis, from my perspective [I am 46 years old] and started Catholic school at the age of 5 in 1971 in a school run by traditional type Dominican Sisters. By the end of the 70′s, as the newer sisters came in [the ones that had the hair cuts that looked like most of the fans at the WNBA and the shorter skirts], all we received in terms of catechesis was kumbaya faith and morals and marxist deconstructionist nonsense. Now that I am in my 40′s, I personally believe that the sexual abuse crisis and the radical secular left wing marxist ideology adopted my the nuns in the LCWR are correlated. In many dioceses, the vocations assistant director [sometimes in many Dioceses, it was the Vocations director] were LCWR type nuns.

    Most of these LCWR nuns, who are in positions at the Diocese level as Vocations/Assistant Vocations Director used their position to screen out orthodox men who held to the traditional Creeds and Apostolic Tradition of the Catholic Church. These same LCWR nuns, in many instanced, accepted men into the seminary that at a minimum accepted the LCWR marxist ideology and embraced the nebulous “spirit of Vatican II” which as Pope Benedict said is the Holy Spirt of the Holy Trinity because Vatican II did not change any Doctrine or Dogma [that is not possible] nor did it define anything new. As Pope Benedict II has consistently said, the only orthodox and faithful interpretation of Vatican II is one of “continuity” not the “hermaneutic of disconuity” which is primarily what the LCWR radical feminist nuns are about. Now, I have sort of digressed here, so back to my point. In addition to promoting men to seminaries who shared the nebulous “spirit of Vatican II” ideology, these same LCWR radicals also rather than accepting non emasculated men to the seminary, tended to promote those that had strong homosexual orientations. [See Mike Rose's book "Goodbye Good Men, which does a good job of documenting what happened starting in 1966 the year after Vatican II ended]. Anyone who is my age can look back and see many of the priests that were ordained in the late 60′s and 70′s tended to fit the categories that I described above and it was in the case of the Catholic Sexual abuse crisis, and overwhelmingly homosexaul issue for as the John Jay study documented, not my facts, but empirical evidence, some 80% of the sexual abuse cases documented involved teenage boys or those at the age of puberty 12-17, etc.

    So while you may not be one of the dispersers, I would conjecture that many of the Kumbaya camp in the Catholic Church, not that they are really Catholic, will find there way to the one of the Kumbaya protestant traditions which seeks to make itself into the image of the modern secular state, these protestant traditions would include, in my opinion, the Episcopalians, the Evangelical Lutherans, the PCUSA Presbyterians, and the United Methodist Church, to some degree or these Kumbaya LCWR types my find there way into a tradtion that worships Gaia or maybe some Unitarian outfit for as the LCWR’s on leadership conference writings have basically stated, “we have moved beyond the Jesus of the Nicene Creed and moved beyond the Church as understood and defined in that same creed, etc.”


  • Ctrent1564


    Edit to my own post: I meant to say: The sexual abuse crisis, from my perspective [I am 46 years old] is related to the radicalization of the LCWR . I started Catholic school at the age of 5 in 1971 in a school run by traditional type Dominican Sisters and by the end of the 70′s….

    Also, the Nebulous “Spirit of Vatican II” is NOT [for emphasis here, not yelling please understand] the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity.


  • Ron19

    “So-called faithful Catholics are also upset about child abuse and the enabling ot it.”

    Good news, Todd:

    Actual faithful Catholics are also upset about child abuse and the enabling of it!

    In the Catholic Church and everywhere else it occurs.

  • robin

    Hi, um, Dave? I can’t speak for gays, but before you swoop to the defense of us poor oppressed women, you might check to see whether we want your help. Personally, I’d dread having you on my team.

  • Camille

    What a horrible web site THIS is. Such a PRE Vatican II mentality. You are not part of the Catholic Church to which I belong. Even Christ would be appaled !!!!! Christians? HA!

  • Ron19

    Dear Camille:

    If you think that POST Vatican II is not supposed to be a continuation of PRE Vatican II, then I’m glad I don’t belong to your Catholic Church.

  • Todd Flowerday

    “I personally believe that the sexual abuse crisis and the radical secular left wing marxist ideology adopted my the nuns in the LCWR are correlated.”

    I have no reason to disbelieve you believe it. But I also know that there is no connection between ideology and sexual misbehavior. All human beings sin and fall short of the moral ideals preached by Christ.

    You have to be on the right track of an accurate diagnosis to have a hope of a remedy. You don’t put a cast on a leg when the arm is broken.

  • Ctrent1564


    The correlation is the fact that in many dioceses, good men were screened out of the vocation process because they practiced traditional Catholic prayers, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, etc, were seen as too loyal to Rome. In dioceses that followed the nebulous “spirit of Vatican II” which had priests who liked to be called “Bob” or “Peter” or “Mike” rather than Fr. Bob, Fr. Peter, Fr. Mike, etc in charge of vocations and had nuns of the LCWR type as assistant vocations director, there was a sort of “black list” on any candidate to the priesthood what was seen as too masculine, too orthodox, too loyal to Rome. Thus, many seminaries were filled with marxist and those with strong homosexual tendencies and it was again, as the JOhn Jay study documented, the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was largely priests who were of the age 30 to 50 and teenagers or those at the age of puberty 12-17.

    So I think my diagnosis is accurate and I would be willing to say that most of the Bishops today have moved away from types that were in charge of vocations back in the late 60′s, 70′s and even thru the 80′s. It is an empirical fact that were orthdooxy is preached and stressed, vocations are stronger and you don’t have the mess that you had in some of the more “progressive dioceses” which is were most of the sexual abuse occurred. Today, the Bishops in charge who were the later Pope John Paul II appointments and Pope Benedicts appointments are not of the “Kumbaya” generation and are not those who embraced the nebulous “spirit of Vatican II.

  • Todd Flowerday

    Again, I have no doubt, Ctrent you believe this is so. I know many Catholics who earnestly desire that a connection to doctrinal orthodoxy or traditionalism is a bulwark against sin. But that flies in the face of the Gospel witness. Many people, such as the pharisees and scribes, professed closeness to God when their inner lives were a cesspool.

    As for the supposedly “good men” who were screened out, the use of psychology to assist the discerning of candidates after Vatican II is likely the main reason why most abuse allegations date prior to the mid-80′s.

    But getting back to the LCWR, here too there is no objective information that their sisters are less virtuous than the traditional orders. In fact, a good experiment to conduct would be to interview traditional nuns and ask them if their community is more virtuous than, say, the Erie Benedictines. They would likely tell you they have vastly different charisms. They would school you on the difference between apostolic orders and contemplative ones. Very likely they would not present themselves as paragons of virtue at the expense of others.

    “Thank goodness I’m not a sinner like those Vatican II types who destroyed the Church. Thank goodness my orthodoxy and I have arrived to save the day.” Do you see how narcissistic this is? Jesus recognized it. And it is a major blind spot of many Catholics of all stripes: to exalt the self and one’s associates at the comparative expense of others. This is gravely serious material, my friend, to be offering in public forums. No wonder so many demur when given the opportunity to sign their real name to their published thoughts.

  • Ctrent1564


    Where did I ever say that I don’t sin. I can assure you I find myself in the sacrament of Confession frequently enough to provide enough empirical evidence for that to be demonstrated to be not true. Again, you are playing a bait and switch. Nobody is exalting anyone here. What is being said, and the CDF is saying it, not me, is that the LCWR, at least at its Leadership Level is a dissident organization. Pure and Simple. And I for one will clearly say, it is about time this happened.

    In saying that, that does not then suggest that I claim to be on the way to canonization. Far from it [as I noted above], but when you have an organization that claims to be Catholic that has publicy stated that we as an organization have “moved beyond Jesus and the Church” then claiming to be Catholic is in light of that statement is a lie. Again, the said state of catechesis in the 70′s and 80′s is largely correlated with the ideology embraced by the LCWR and the “spirit of Vatican II” mindset. ON that point, you seem to gather that I am viewing the Catholic Church in terms of Pre-Vatican II and Post Vatican II. That is a fallacy on your part. The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church and Vatican II, along with Vatican I, which came before it, and the Council of Trent which came before it, an the Council of Florence, which came before it……down to the Councild of Chalcedon, Ephesus, Constantinopile and Nicea are all part of the Catholic Tradition [although I have to say the 1st Four Councils are of more importance given the Trinitarian and Christological formulas that were defined]. So its not that I “reject Vatican II”, that would make me a schismatic, it is that I reject the erroneous interpretation of Vatican II as taught by the LCWR type Nuns and their Kumbaya cohort among the Priesthood, the Fr. McBrien, Fr. Nugent, Fr. Curran, i.e. those that view the National Catholic Reporter [Fishwrap, to quote Fr. Z] as the source of magesterial teaching.

    The most recent CCC of the Catholic Church quotes from Vatican II more than any other Council [I think Trent is the 2nd most quoted] and I accept is the definitive magesterial teaching of the Catholic Church. Thus, again, it is not that I, or others who want to see orthodoxy preached in the pulpit and parishes are railing against Vatican II, what I think is the case is that all of us are tired of the interpretation of Vatican II as posited by the LCWR and its mouthpiece the National Catholic Reporter rather than the interpretation of Vatican II as posited by Pope Benedict XVI which is that Vatican II should be interprted “in continuity with the Tradition that came before it” not in a manner that is “a hermaneutic of discontinuity”

    So yes, I want to see the Catholic CHurch and all is Institutions teach the Faith in line with the ancient Creeds of the Church, and in line with the Catechesim. I will clearly state that. That does mean that all who want orthodoxy taught claim to be Holier than thou. That is what you seem to want to read into my post. On the other hand, as the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus said, where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed [which is exactly what has happened in the mainline protestant confessions]

    As for not signing my name in public, perhaps that is due the fact that I am an American of Sicilian ancestry and naturally somewhat paranoid, which perhaps is consquence of even after original sin was washed away in Baptism, there is the reality of concupiscence [which I know is more related to inordinate desires vs. being somewhat paranoid]. It could also be that I don’t trust the liberal thought police and political correctness run amok types who read the internet and next thing you know, someone at your place of work tells your Boss/Manager/etc, they are offended that such and such thinks abortion is a sin, is opposed to same-sex marriage, women should not be ordained in the Catholic Church, etc, etc.

  • Ctrent1564


    While I disagree overwhelmingly with your post, I do agree with you regarding the misuse of psychology testing resulted in many good men being screened out. Whether you realize it or not you are making my point. The Type of psychology that was in vogue in the late 60′s and 70′s was pseudo science, in my view. Please read the article “Seasons of Grace” by William Coulson regarding the LCWR which states very directly “We Overcame Their Traditions and Their Faith”

    Many LCWR nuns embraced this humanstic type of pschology. In many instances, the nuns who embraced this type of psychology left, those that stayed, well you see what it did to the them, just look at the LCWR. As I stated before, many Dioceses had nuns from the LCWR cohort as part of the Vocations directors team [I know my Diocese did as did several around the state] These nuns had the type of short hair cuts, no habits, no sacramental signs were worn to publicly make a witness to their vocation, etc. Given that these LCWR nuns were schooled in the humanistic/new age psychology that Professor Coulson documents, it is not surprising that a young man that wanted to pursue a vocation was told no, if he prayed the Liturgy of the Hours everyday, went to Eucharistic Adoration, prayed the Rosary, practiced Lectio Divina, read the Church Fathers and Canons of the great Councils of the Church. On the other hand, those that read Marxist writers and new age writers were let into seminaries because that is the same type of philosophy that was embraced by the LCWR nuns, who were in positions of influence to make decision about who was sent to seminary and who was not.

    So in a round about way, you and I agree, the misuse of psychological testing in the late 60′s, 70′s and even thru mid 80′s is correlated with the sexual abuse crisis, as most of the cases occurred during that time period.

  • Todd Flowerday

    Actually, CouncilT, I think you and I also disagree about psychology. It’s thanks to psychology that abuse rates have dropped substantially since the 80′s.

    Nope, I pretty much blame the moral laxity and addictions of the preconciliar church for permitting, hiding, and stonewalling on sexual abuse. And let’s make no mistake: many conservative bishops have been revealed to have serious moral flaws in permitting sex predators to remain on the loose. And like it or not, some of these guys were installed under the present Holy Father. Thanks to psychological screening, I’d say the priesthood today, while smaller, is significantly more mature and healthy than it was two generations ago.

    You expend a lot of words and have a fairly scattershot approach to a discussion. I’m sure it’s quite exhilarating. But it feels like a room where Christmas decorations aren’t enough: we need Easter baskets, pumpkins, turkeys and birthday cake, too.

    But getting back to the original topic, I certainly accept that the CDF has doctrinal responsibility in the Church. What I question is not their role, but their competence to address this particular situation with the LCWR. Once we put the pom-poms down and the pep rally’s over, we have to deal with the substantive issues not only of theology and church governance, but, it seems, basic ones of reading comprehension. With that, I think the discussion will be better served by a more intense focus, and less by an everything-plus-the-kitche-sink approach.

  • Ctrent1564


    Did you read Prof. Coulson’s article that is linked on this site. The type of pyschology that was used or perhaps the way it was used was the issue. The way physchology is being used now to to look for those with deep seeded disorders, whatever the source and weed them out [deep homosexual tendencies, for example, strong attachment to porn or drug abuse, etc]. Those with a view of their vocation as being something that was a call and gift from God and was thus for the faitfhul service of the Church had their vocations destroyed. Those that stayed in the LCWR that embraced the marxist/new age psychology described by Prof. Coulson are what we have in most of the cases left today in the LCWR.

    After reading his article, answer this question. Is his analysis more consistent with mine or yours? And what areas of theology and governance are you wanting to discuss??? The Church stop teaching abortion is a mortal sin, that same-sex marriage is a lie and goes against the sacramental nature of Marriage in which married couples are called to live out their marriages in the fashion of Christ love for His Bride, the Church [c.f. St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians]. So, seriously, what substantive areas of theology and church governance do you think have to be dealt with? I have my intuition as to what they are but I think basic internet decorum dictates that I allow you to state those yourself.

  • Ctrent1564


    See link below for your reading pleasure.

    I did not say that pyschological testing should not have been used, the article from zenit clearly states that it was used prior to the 1980′s. I was how it was used [Prof. Caulson's article demonstrates that and is consistent with my posts and the zenit article that I have linked] and as the Zenit article notes, it was the failure to clearly reject disorded sexual behavior as being sinful that contributed to the sexual abuse crisis and as the John Jay Study noted, not my facts, but the empirical evidence, the level of sexual abuse rose in the 1960′s and peaked in the 1970′s relative to levels of abuse in the 1950′s, it declined in the 80′s and by the 90′s was consistent with levels of abuse in the 1950′s. The same article said the priest abusers tended to be under 35 years of age when the abuse happened which supports the theory that the problem really got out of hand in the 60′s and 70′s which is correlated with the missapplication of Vatican II whereby all that came before Vatican II was rejected by man female religous orders and many male relgious orders as well [again see Prof. Caulson's article which is linked on this site]

  • Dale Price

    Dear Todd:

    I certainly don’t regard orthodoxy as an innoculation against sin, but your determination to make sure that the episcopate is reduced to a bench of amiable, silent mutes is not a recipe for healing the wounds of the divided American Church. Repeating the mistakes of 1970-1986 fixes things…how? I guess it allows Catholic progressives to return to unaccountability, but that can’t be what you’re advocating. So…how are they supposed to foster reconciliation?

    With respect to issues which spill into or are imposed from the political sphere, you are advocating generations in the wilderness. Essentially, your prescription requires bishops to remain silent in the face of state provocation until the last cleric who was alive at the time of the Dallas Charter reaches room temperature. Because then the stain of the scandals will be erased, right? Or will clericalism operate as a form of original sin that can never be effaced, mandating continued “pastoral” silence?

    Hope you and your family are well.

  • savvy

    As a younger Catholic, I can tell you with a fact, that there is a growing wall between younger Catholics who are Orthodox, nuns, priests, etc, and lay people, and the liberal baby-boomers.

    Everybody sins, but it’s easier for sinners to be reformed if the principles are set. If you get rid of them, it’s a lot harder. And as someone who understands the adage lex orandi, lex credendi. Yes, I agree the sex abuse crisis is linked to a crisis of faith. Catholicism moves from the objective to the subjective.

  • savvy


    You need to understand sacramental theology, if you are going to comment on it. It’s not based on civil rights, etc. The church cannot change it anymore than she can create a new sun in the sky.

    No church with a valid priesthood, Catholic or Orthodox can ordain women. We don’t care what others do because they do not share the same theology.

  • savvy

    It’s not bigotry, on the other hand those insisting that there should be a new sun in the sky, are the ones being unreasonable. Denying the essence of the sacraments does not make you progressive, it makes you afraid of reality.

    But, then again you have to understand the theology to figure this out.

  • Todd Flowerday

    Doing fairly well, Dale. Thanks for asking. You and yours, too, I hope.

    I think I yearn for less a silent episcopate than one determined to spread the Gospel more effectively, more fruitfully. I think it will require a degree of symbolic leadership the current generation of bishops seems disinclined to follow. Bishops who sell mansions and live with their clergy, or in nursing homes, or in apartments in the city don’t get the headlines from crying “We’re victims!” but their faith witness is undeniable, regardless of their ecclesiology.

    I think a bit of creativity might also be indicated in dealing with progressive Catholics who, I would say, have been as accountable as anyone, but perhaps not only to Rome.

    As you know, I make no bones about being a fairly progressive Catholic. But I’m accountable to my wife, given our sacramental partnership. I’ve been accountable to pastors who have hired me for the past twenty-four years. I’m accountable to my colleagues in terms of ethics, collaboration, and in general being a good citizen in my parish, diocese, and professional circles. I’m certainly accountable to parishioners as a liturgist.

    The idea that progressive Catholics in general have run some kind of free-for-all that is “finally” being clamped down on is just blindness, if not naivete. That’s not to say that certain progressive individuals haven’t misbehaved–they certainly have. But again, that’s a characteristic of human nature, not ideology.

    The misbehavior in this latest ideological adventure is the lack of discussion and dialogue. Clearly, the CDF doesn’t understand or comprehend apostolic women religious. You can’t really expect to gain important insights by remaining beholden to the Temple Police, who are the ones who seem to have ascended to the top of the pyramid of authority these days.

  • savvy


    The CDF has been a lot more patient than I would, with people who want to move beyond Jesus. Why live a major lie? Atheists are more honest than these people. Even non-religious people do charity.

  • Todd Flowerday

    ” … people who want to move beyond Jesus …”

    This would be an example of detraction. While it falls short of a deliberate misreading of the intent, to persist in what is essentially gossiping is gravely serious moral matter. If you were my daughter or a student, I would insist you prove it or apologize.

    It is likewise a lie to present oneself as “faithfully” Catholic but to persist in morally questionable behavior: stirring up ill will, intellectual laziness, spreading rumors and encouraging innuendo. Perhaps the most damning of all for some so-called faithful Catholics is a certain glee in watching others get called on the carpet, but a singular unwillingness to examine one’s own attitudes and behaviors.

    I’d say this discussion thread has pretty much spent itself.

  • Ctrent1564

    For those interested, here is a link from Fr. Z documenting a trip down memory lane with some of the LCWR types:

  • Ctrent1564


    Moving beyond Jesus and the Church is not a lie. Here is a good summary on the situation from the site “Good Jesuit bad Jesuit” and for the record, this is Jesuit blog that makes you see hope that the younger Jesuits are returning to traditional Ignatian spirituality and not the marxist liberation theology nonsense that almost destroyed the order in the late 60′s, 70′s and early 80′s. Recall that Pope John Paul the II came within a whisper of supressing the order [see George Weigal's biography on Pope John Paul II which documents this] and in the end, while Pope John Paul II did not supress the Jesuits, he did suspend its constitutions and If I remember correctly, personally selected the Major Superior of the entire Jesuit Order and gave him explicit directions to start the reformation of the Order [again, as documented in George Weigal's biography of Pope John Paul II, of Blessed Memory].

  • Dale Price

    Except for some nightmarish financial turbulence, now calming, things have been fine at my end, thank you for asking.

    When I spoke of progressive unaccountability, I was referring to those with authority or a platform within Catholic institutions, and using the label for promotion of their viewpoints, not in general. I understand completely spousal accountability.

    No, I can’t see how I’m being blind or naive–the progressive march through the cultural institutions in the 60s and 70s didn’t bypass the Church in America. It takes a lot of special pleading to argue otherwise. And the LCWR is a case in point, starting with the rejection of Inter Insigniores in 1976–the same year as the formation of Call to Action. Neither of which was interested in self-policing, which is why both those organizations decayed into what they are today. Blaming unspecified others for unspecified actions is hand-waving, and insufficient to explain how LCWR found itself in the position it is today.

    Frankly, there’s nothing apostolic about an organization which applauded Sandra Schneiders’ 1997 keynote, wherein she sympathized with the attitude of many women religious who regard the Resurrection as “mythological if not incredible and, in any case, irrelevant to a world in anguish.” If you won’t police yourself, someone else will do it for you. And it will usually be found to be uncongenial and ham-fisted, and perhaps on some level it is so. But most of the blame lies within.

  • Dale Price

    Except, of course, that that is what Sr. Brink said in her address:

    “Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God?”

  • Sheila

    Has anyone else noticed that the LCWR website and links have been completely removed from the internet? Now, I wonder why that is?

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I’ve noticed that as well. Given the traffic on my posts about their keynote speaker, their site must have been receiving thousands of hits. I’m sure that was kind of alarming for them.

  • Rosalina

    In honor of the Feast of St. Mark, I would like to quote from Mark13:38. a reminder that Jesus
    warned us about the Scribes “In his teaching he said, ‘ Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets, these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers…” The members of LCWR don’t walk around in long robes
    they minister to the poor, the marginilized, they work in schools, hospitals and work for justice issues. However, every time I see anything from the Vatican….they are always wearing long
    robes.! Could they be who Jesus is referring to that we should be warned about?

  • enness

    No offense, but I think that is an overly literal and simplistic evaluation of both the people involved and of the passage in question.

  • enness

    I’m a man? That is news to me.

  • enness

    With all respect to my white-collared homeboys, being a priest is *not* the one and only, greatest way to manifest leadership. We may be incapable of the former, but hardly the latter.

  • enness

    Dave, your mistake was taking a multi-level question at face value. Your response was subtle as a jackhammer. I get the feeling if someone asked you the meaning of life, you’d look up ‘life’ in the dictionary!

    And the “clearing up” of your “misunderstanding” is, I’m afraid, pitifully unconvincing. Here is how it works:
    - You accuse the Church of bigotry
    -Thomas supports the doctrine of the Church
    -Therefore, by extension, Thomas must be a bigot.

    Simple enough.

    BTW Thomas, “power politics” is such an apt phrase. Some women, I guess, thrive on drama and power struggles. I am not one of them.

  • enness

    Yes, I was also thinking, that is precisely what was said. Thanks, Dale. With that, I take it, we now consider it proven?

    Todd, just so you know, I examine my behavior often and am not as kind as you would imagine. In fact, I find much to dislike. But your lecture is misplaced — first of all, because (as pointed out above) the paraphrase was accurate; second, because having slogged the best I could through the passage from Hubbard I didn’t need to be told that half of what I was looking at was barely comprehensible nonsense and the other half was essentially Gnosticism dressed up in pretentious, new-agey made-up jargon, with a chilling futuristic Utopian twist. An organization doesn’t just go from orthodox to nominating someone like this to be their keynote speaker overnight, no, not without many little intermediate steps. If faithful Catholics can’t be happy about a group that flirts with blatant heresy getting called to make an account, I don’t know what we SHOULD be happy about.

  • Leticia Velasquez

    Rosalina, the Vatican is part of the Holy See which was given authority by Christ. they are doing the job of Christ, the Good Shepherd.
    The sisters, for all their good works among the poor, have led many schoolchildren astray from their faith with pagan teachings and practices. See my story of my good friend from high school who is leading a miserable life now, partly thanks to the nuns who misguided her in college by performing lesbian ‘weddings’.
    For the good of their souls, these sisters have to be brought back into orthodox Catholic teaching or they will be like those who are cast into the see with millstones around their necks.
    “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2 NASB

  • Leticia Velasquez

    Sarah Broderick, if you want to leave Catholicism, you will have to choose a better excuse.
    I have been watching women post about their relief that the LCWR is finally being reigned in for two weeks. What is it that you admire about them? I suspect you admire their rejection of Catholic moral teaching. A good confession would give you a new perspective. It works for me.

  • http://N/A Justin Schwartz

    Do you have the entire address to the LCWR by Barbara Marx Hubbard? I would like to comment but do not want to do so with only a portion of her talk.

    Thanks so much,

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Still waiting to see the full text.