The Anchoress…

…has a refreshingly level-headed take on Rome telling loopy nuns “enough with moving beyond Jesus already”. She’s also very thorough in rounding up the coverage. My main interest in it is that my poor Archbishop, Peter Sartain, is stuck with job of overseeing this thankless job of cleanup. Your prayers for him will be appreciated.

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  • Claire

    It’s nice to read level-headed coverage of this issue, rather than smug, uncharitable schadenfreude about “aging liberal hippie nuns” finally getting their comeuppances. I saw a headline yesterday about nuns being ordered to put away their crystals and their yoga mats, and I just couldn’t bear to read the story. I love habited nuns and I’m glad to see a call to orthodoxy and obedience but it seems that most of the railing against liberal nuns is cover for mean-spirited people (mostly men, but not all) who use “nuns in pantsuits” as a shibboleth meaning “unattractive, icky, OLD women”.

    • KML

      Very agreed on that, Claire. I loved the part where she mentioned the possible consequences for slighting someone’s spouse, regardless of our perception of the desirability of the marriage in the first place. These women, for all their faults, are still Brides of Christ and worthy of respect.

      We will pray daily for our Archbishop. Between this and the marriage referendum, he certainly has a lot on his plate right now.

      • B.E. Ward

        And the petition move seems to have gone over like a lead balloon. Of course, nothing else could be expected here.

        Funnily enough, a friend sent me a link to an article about priests refusing to offer the petition. It was written from a very ‘progressive’ viewpoint (called the church “anti-equality”.. wow.) and there was a little picture of a church included. Not St. Ignatius or the Cathedral.. I swear it was a picture of St. Alphonsus.

        • KML

          You know, I wonder how much that was really thought out by our Archbishop. My feeling is that it might reflect some growing pains inherent in a transition from Joliet (which I perceive as a pretty obedient and orthodox diocese, although that might not be right) to Seattle. Archbishops, of course, are not political creatures nor should they be required to be, but I wonder if now having seen the reactions to his moves on this he would have done it differently.

    • Captain_Dg

      If schadenfreude is misplaced at least it is an expression of caring. If no one cared about orthodoxy there would be no schadenfreude. But if more had cared maybe the LCRW as an organization (not speaking about individuals or whole orders) would not have gone so far astray.

  • Praying for your Archbishop. He’s got his hands full on this one, I fear.

  • My own bishop, Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, will be helping your archbishop, Mark. He’s tough (marathon runner; played hockey with the Chicago Blackhawks before being named our bishop), tough-minded, and sharp as a tack (has degrees both in civil law and canon law). His two patrons are St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, and in fact he was installed here on their joint feast day.

  • Well, all due respect to the Anchoress, of course. But what are we to make of things like this, which Thomas McDonald rightly calls “weapons-grade crazy?”

    Mark, I attended Holy Names Academy in Seattle for my freshman and half of sophomore years of high school. “Weapons-grade crazy” would be a charitable interpretation of what those nuns taught. We had a special Mass on “St.” Martin Luther King’s Day during which all the readings from scripture (first and second reading, psalm, and Gospel) were replaced by readings from Dr. King’s speeches. We had lay teachers with the approval of the nuns who ran the school teaching us how to use contraception and openly mocking the Church’s teachings regarding the immorality of premarital sex or contraception; one especially mocked the “rhythm” method (I guess she’d never heard of NFP) as pretty much preventing you from ever having sex, and thus not even worth talking about. We had nuns bitterly complaining about and agitating for women priests, and doing the whole “altar-circle” thing during daily Mass (which I stopped attending because I wasn’t even sure if the chewy hosts were valid matter–and I *was* sure we weren’t supposed to be passing a basket of them around to each other at communion). And that was all back in the 1980s. I don’t know if things are better now, but I do know that many of my classmates were no longer practicing Catholics by the time they graduated.

    Now: should one see a sister in a pantsuit and automatically assume she’s praying to Gaia, walking labyrinths, and serving as a “deathscort” outside a Planned Parenthood clinic? Of course not. But if one actually knows of a nun who does these things, does one have an obligation to remain charitably silent about the problems and pretend they don’t exist? Or to avoid rejoicing because the Vatican has now noticed the problems (rather quickly for the usual Entish pace one expects) and is going to help? I think that charity toward the sisters requires a frank discussion of matters like these, and, yes, a bit of thankfulness that some of these sisters may get the spiritual help they so desperately need.

    One final thing: I knew some African nuns when I was in college. They wore simple, short habits–nothing elaborate or impractical for their climate and the work they were training for–and were exemplary in every way. I saw them after a school break, and asked how their holiday was. Between laughter and tears, they told us of their “vacation” in a nearby convent connected to their global order. Their list went on and on about the problems they experienced, but were summed up by one sister’s eloquent gesture of a hand raised skyward as she exclaimed, “They didn’t even pray at meals! The whole time we were there, they hardly ever prayed. And this is how they live all the time. So busy doing “important” work, no time to thank God or even to talk to Him…”

    I took that as a pretty stunning indictment not only of American convents, but of all of us American Catholics in general–that one Nigerian nun with her simple faith reminded me forever that if you’re “too busy” to pray, your priorities as a Christian are seriously, gravely out of whack…

    • I have to agree with Erin. I like Elizabeth’s pieces. I find them wise and thoughtful essays, but with this essay, she seems to be straddling the fence overmuch. Her point of the perils of kicking around Christ’s brides is well-taken, but the legacy of the LCWR nuns and their ilk is four decades of American Catholics who were gravely miseducated, and who either left the Church or, if they stayed in, know nothing about the Faith they are supposed to love and defend.

      And no, those of us who are grateful that the CDF and the American bishops’ conference finally cracked down on these elitist crackpots do not all think that “the only good nun is a habited nun,” and I resent the generalization. My first experience of Catholic school was attending Immaculate Heart of Mary grade school in Madison, Wis., in the first and second grade in the early 70s, where the nuns wore civilian clothes (tasteful dresses, not pants suits, for those keeping score at home). They were devout, caring, good women. I also was taught by Dominican sisters in full habited regalia at Holy Rosary grade school in Duluth, and some of them were overbearing, cruel tyrants.

      There are thousands upon thousands of horror stories like the ones Erin tells, and a legacy of human and spiritual wreckage that the LCWR has left in its wake — and as Thomas MacDonald has pointed out, there also are thousands of good women religious who, Deo Gratias, can finally be free of the tyrranical shackles of the LCWR. And as MacDonald has also observed, that the LCWR leadership claims to be “shocked” at the intervention shows that they are either stupid, or liars. Most likely both, if you ask me.

      So pardon me, if, in my human weakness, I feel some good honest schadenfreude that these nuns have finally gotten a well-deserved and long overdue comeuppance.

      • Claire

        I don’t think it’s weak or uncharitable (or even schadenfreude, in fact) to rejoice over the fact that the Church is finally calling disobedient, heterodox (and worse, based on Ms. Manning’s story) religious to order. I just hate when discussions of liberal nuns turn into mean-spirited attacks on their hair, their clothing, their crunchy-granola sandals, their age, and their overall unattractive appearance. This doesn’t seem to be your motivation, and I’m sorry if I suggested that anyone who criticizes lefty nuns is just a misogynist, but if you read some other Catholic bloggers and commenters, you might see what I’m talking about. I think that the Church’s call to obedience and orthodoxy from all religious is a wonderful thing.