The Nastiest LCWR Reaction Yet

This interview with Sister Brigid McDonald (no relation) of The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet is a perfect snapshot of everything wrong with a certain strain of American religious life. The woman is alternately nasty, ignorant, arrogant, and contemptible. She’s a dissident, pro-abortion, pro-Occupy Wall Street shrew who spits venom at the Pope and the Church, yet seems offended and shocked that this same Church dared to try to restore order to the religious life of American women. There is no charity, no faith, no love in any of her words. After a lifetime of religious life, this is what she has to show for her faith? Anger, bitterness, and hubris? How very sad.

First, we’ll get the reporter’s interpolations out of the way:

As a rule, Sister Brigid McDonald tries not to pay too much attention to papal pronouncements

[Aaaaand, here we have, in the first sentence of the article, the core of the problem. What the Pope--the successor to Peter, the Servant of the Servants of Christ, the leader of Christ’s Church—says should be of intense interest to a woman who takes a vow to serve that Church in poverty, chastity, and obedience.]

Nuns, the investigation also concluded, spend too much energy on poverty and economic injustice and not enough on abortion and same-sex marriage.

[Oh yes, that’s exactly what the investigation concluded: “enough of those friggin’ poor people already.” Which is why the report begins by praising and encouraging their service of the poor.]

And now, let’s hear from Sr. Brigid herself:

Well, some are shocked that he would go that far, you know, to start using his power. To me, it is a misuse of power, a misuse of authority where he can step into religious communities and dictate how they should speak about these issues.

[Actually, it’s the precisely correct use of his authority (not power: power is a weasel word of the left, which attempts to recast everything into Marxist power dynamics). His authority is in teaching. Popes have been endlessly patient with the American nuns for the past 40-odd years, repeatedly attempting to stem the tide of heterodoxy that has surged through the religious orders under the guidance of the LCWR. Those pastoral attempts were so successful that the LCWR could invite a New Age Gnostic nut-bag to be the keynote speaker at this year’s conference. The sisters repeatedly ignored the Church’s attempt to restore orthodoxy, so now they get stronger medicine.]

MP: When you say “he,” you are talking about Benedict?

SBM: Yes. I still call him Ratzinger. That fits him better. But that is just a personal bias.

[This is the Pope we’re talking about, so show some respect. You say you “still” call him "Ratzinger," not out of affection, but as some kind of stupid dig at his German name. We can assume you were doing that before the LCWR report. And you still wonder why you need to be called on the carpet?]

I can’t even begin to imagine what he could say or do that would change religious women’s beliefs. I don’t know how he plans to change that. That is of concern. That could be scary — what will he do to change our beliefs. You know, that scares me.

[“What will he do to change our beliefs?” What are you raving about now? What beliefs? The report says it clearly: “On the doctrinal level, this crisis is characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration which leads, in turn, to a loss of a “constant and lively sense of the Church” among some Religious…. It arises as well from a conviction that the work of any conference of major superiors of women Religious can and should be a fruitful means of addressing the contemporary situation and supporting religious life in its most 'radical' sense—that is, in the faith in which it is rooted." They're trying to return Christian nuns to Christian orthodoxy. It's what you professed to believe when you took your vows. If you no longer believe it, why are you still a nun?]

Other than control, I don’t know what his motivation is. I think it is pretty impossible for us to all change our beliefs on these issues to coincide with his beliefs. That sounds impossible.

[Once again: what are you talking about? Change what beliefs? Are we talking about fundamental dogmatics? Or are we talking about the fact that you support abortion and gay marriage and a radical socialist agenda? Because, you know, those beliefs are wrong. Your inability to understand that proves that report was, in fact, correct.]

When I am speaking, I am not giving an official stance of The Sisters of St. Joseph. I wouldn’t. Mine always is my personal reaction of what he is doing. Nobody is going to speak for the whole community. It is too hard to speak for hundreds of women. They aren’t all going to talk alike anyhow.

[Really? Because someone is speaking for all the nuns in America, and it’s the LCWR, which long ago exceeded its mandate and started issuing "position statements" on controversial political issues. And when the USCCB was trying to get a concession on the contraception mandate from HHS, the LCWR was busy cutting them off that knees by issuing a statement of support for Obama’s BS compromise. That’s the entire heart of the problem: the nuns have set themselves up as an alternate magisterium, which confuses people and gives the enemies of the Church a way to divide and conquer. The LCWR, the Catholic Heath Association, and other groups were useful idiots throughout these debates, doing great damage to the Church and sowing confusion. I don’t know why I have to tell a nun this, but your vows do not give you teaching authority in the church. That authority resides with the bishops alone. You’re meddling in issues you shouldn't be and making the work of the Church harder.]

The nuns that I talk to aren’t really afraid, because they can’t see or they can’t imagine what he would do to change us.I mean, like, excommunication? That is a thing of the past.

[No, it’s not.]

He should start with getting his priests together and try to help them through some of their problems. He should get after them for molestation.

[What an utterly scummy thing to say. She just slandered the entire priesthood. She must be aware that a only tiny minority of priests ever even abused, and the vast majority of those are no longer in ministry, but she still says that the pope needs to get “his priests” together because they’re all a bunch of filthy molesters. For the enemies of the Church (and Sr. Brigid is certainly one of them), it always comes back to the sexual abuse scandals, no matter what the subject is. Is there even an iota of charity in this statement? After all the times Benedict has spoken out about the sexual abuse scandal, after the church is finally addressing the subject in a serious and effective way, this awful woman tries to drag the subject back to the scandals. And for what? A cheap rhetorical point that doesn't even make sense?]

But now they are right, we are out there in the different movements. We help with the Occupy movement and the right-to-choice movements.

[Right now the LCWR is thinking, “Seriously, Sister Brigid, shut up already and get off our side.”]

I see the bishops and priests don’t get updated in theology. They are still back, for an expression, with Noah’s ark.

[So much idiocy, and so firmly packed into so few words! Where does she get the idea that bishops and priests don’t continue their theological studies? What does she mean “update”? Does she mean some kind of new post-Christian theology, such as that espoused by LCWR at conferences and in publications? What does “they are still back … with Noah’s ark” even mean?]

We should get into cooking or something, I suppose he thinks.

[That would at least be useful, which is more than I can say for supporting abortion and the antics of the OWS "movement".]

They are trying to get us back, bring us back, as it was in the beginning and now as it will ever be, amen, or something like that.

[Yeah, “or something”.]

UPDATE: Carl Olson at Catholic World Report does a more thoughtful job at taking apart this nonsense.

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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.

  • Laura

    Good Lord, that was awful. Kudos for your restraint–not sure I would have been able to get by with just one curse word.

    [TLMcD: Yes, but I shouldn't have cursed at all, so I toned it down a bit.]

  • Sean P. Dailey


  • Rita

    She’s taken a vacation from her vocation and become a liberal secular feminist. Tragically, along the way instead of walking with Christ she’s joined his enemies.

  • Laura

    “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” Twain
    No worries. = D

  • Jared

    That was…really disturbing. It’s bad enough when someone professes to be Catholic but acts against the Church, but someone with a religious vocation? Awful, just awful.

  • Ron19

    David Greene in the MinnPost article: “When people ask me why I remain a part of the Catholic church, my first response is ‘the Eucharist.’ ”

    I think this is a very good answer. My second response woould be:
    When all the Cafeteria Christians at the end of the Gospel of John, Ch 6, walked out on the Jesus who said there was a higher order of business than just passing out the manna food, and Jesus asked the Apostles why they weren’t leaving too, Peter replied “Where shall we go? You have the words of life.”

    Many of the comments in your two links are just appaling, along with Mz. Bridgett’s interview replies. There were several dozen places were I felt like posting comments to teach the not-so-faithful the truth, but reality set in. They do not want to be taught the truth, they already have all the so-called “truth” that they are willing to listen to. So I will pray for them, instead, and pass the link to this page to my Catholic email correspondents.

    As for the question, “If that’s the way you feel, why don’t you just leave the Catholic Church?” They have already left; we need to stop letting the Catholic Church buildings and name be used for their meeting places, etc., under the banner of “We are the real Catholics. The lackeys of the Pope and the male heirachial oppressors are not.”

    Thomas, thank you for bringing us these LCWR postings. God bless you.

    With love in Jesus Christ,

  • Mark Anderson

    Just another Bernard Law fan doing the work of the faithful.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Is this a reference to the good Sister, or to myself?

  • Jim Burnetti

    If the Church ordained women like the good sisters, and married men, there would be a much larger talent pool to pick from, and pedophilia would not be prevalent among the clergy.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Pedophilia is NOT “prevalent” among the clergy. That’s what we call a “lie”. Clergy abuses at a lower rate than the general population. The problem was with the failure of the bishops to deal with the issue properly.

  • Kristen indallas

    Ok, so first of all… her statements here are outrageous, and I do not condone them. I really *wanted* to be on your side when I opened this up, but you lost me in the first paragraph.

    “There is no charity, no faith, no love in any of her words” Being charitable and loving generally involves avoiding pharases such as “He is…” or “She’s a …” and sticking with “Her statements show…” or “Her recent actions…” The former too easily dismiss anything good the person might once have been and may someday again be. You make excellent points, just wish you made them in a slightly less angry way. Do you know of an article anywhere that accomplishes the meat in your critique without the rant… would love to have something on topic that I can share.
    Thanks, K (My suggestions are intended as constructive critisism, no disrespect for the effort and analysis).

  • David Naas

    Baby Bolsheviks and Baby Boomers (oft, sadly, the same) are a dying breed. “The kids” are taking to orthodoxy like ducks to water (not to chiche about it), in part because to do so is to thumb noses at the Establishment. You know, the Establishment. The post V-II nutjobs who marched in the 1969 Moratorium movement and kept on marching (the Long March) into and through the Institutions. Now having become the Establishment, they are shocked (shocked) to discover that people younger than themselves are in rebellion against the excesses of the Sixties Generation (as I am one, I can speak of it). The greatest mark of their hubris is that they think America is the world, and American Liberals are the thought-leaders of the world.They are shocked (shocked) to discover that people who do not get their religion from the pages of the New York Times (you know, Foreigners) have different (antiquated, reactionary, fascist) ideas then themselves. In the case of the Church and the LCWR, truly, Nun-sense.

  • Kath

    ‘You crazy old bat, so show some respect’…..Whatever our views on the Pope or Lcwr how does your response the words you have used when talking about respect model Jesus and living a Christian life?

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    It models it poorly, and I debated leaving it in. After consideration I decided sometimes sharp words are more effective.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    After thinking about it a little more, I decided to drop it.

  • Claire

    Amen, to that Ron19. After working as a monastic nurse I am appauled that she even thinks she has the right to speak for anyone in the Catholic Church and my, my, my………..who is the left behind and Noah’s ark person? She has signed on to the secular progressive BS.

  • Tom

    What happened to her? Her spituality is gone. Being loyal to the pope to the church is one thing. What happened to her relationship to Jesus. You know…Jesus of Nazareth. What has become of her prayer life. I can think of only one thing, extreme sadness.

  • SRMJ

    Yes….we need to pray for all of them……what a lot of folks dont realize is that it was members of the communities belonging to LCWR that pleaded with the Vatican for the visitation to happen in the first place!

  • Laura

    Mr. Burnetti: You do realize that most (actually the majority) of pedophiles are married, middle-aged straight men–right? That what keeps a person from having sex with children is not the ability to be married–but not being a pedophile, right? And what in the sam hill does that have to do with this particular woman’s shabby thinking anyway?

  • Ron19

    Where do these religious women (and clergy and seminaries and theologians and colleges and dioceses and parishes and monasteries and convents and books and magazines and web sites) get the idea that they can rebel against the Church the way that they do?

    Unfortunately, quite often from the Church itself, as represented by the Bishops, etc., and “The Vatican.”
    “Vatican insiders see ‘mutiny’ within Roman Curia”

    “Vatican prosecutor repeats: hold bishops accountable on abuse”

    The Catholic Stream Press is constantly publishing and posting articles like these. The Pope can only work slowly through this mass of heterodoxy and pride to reform the Church, because this stuff is The Enemy, attacking from the inside as well as the outside, who has taken over many of the teaching practitioners of Catholicism. Benedict XVI is only one man, with 3000 direct reports (do not try this at work!); fortunately, he does have the Holy Spirit on his team.

    In the Old Testament Books, especially Kings and Chronicles, God worked slowly and surely. Many suffered to atone for the sins of Isreal.

  • Ron19


    Maybe if that paragraph had something about “brood of vipers” it would be a “slightly less angry way.”

    WWJ say in anger?

  • Ron19

    Chase out their livestock, overturn their tables full of coins, and call out “You have made my Father’s house a den of thieves!”

    Also, see my response to Kristen indallas, above.

    Kristen and Kath are right, we need a true Christian attitude when we respond to the good LCWR sisters.

  • Ron19

    my comments at 17 and 18,

    This temporariness of the Catholic exemption has dropped out of the discussions. I’m trying to revive awareness of it.

  • http://Patheos Deborah

    You made me laugh and I needed that! Thanks

  • enness

    This is horrid. Nasty disrepectful woman…one of an elite handful who make me embarrassed to have gender in common.