A new edition of Ann Carey’s book gives an update on the crisis in women’s religious orders in the USA. This professionally researched and meticulous book will remain a historical resource for all those who wish to understand how in the space of forty years an army of faithful Catholic sisters ended up as new age, politically correct drones of the left.
Carey explores the problems in the religious orders before the Second Vatican Council and takes the readers step by step through the half baked, ill thought out “renewal” in the religious life that took place after the council. She chronicles the biased propaganda disguised as ‘surveys’, charts the disastrous results of group therapy sessions and the open rebellion of the sisters against first their own rules of life, then the authority of the church and then against the Christian faith itself so that some of them are now not only in favor of same sex marriage, abortion and champions of a range of left wing projects, but they moved “beyond Christ.”
So at the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) Conference in 2007 Sister Laurie Brink observed that many of the religious orders are “no longer ecclesiastical”– having “grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion” these congregations have become “post Christian”. Not worried about this development, she goes on to say, “who’s to say the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement to the very heart of God?”
Ann Carey quotes extensively from the women religious themselves. She documents their papers, their speeches, press reports and includes personal witness, interviews and first hand memories. The result is devastating, and the consequences are obvious. The once thriving women’s religious orders who did so much excellent work in schools, parishes and hospitals are now practically non existent. When’s the last time you saw a nun and knew she was a nun?
Coincidentally, I also came across the prophecies of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres–an Ecuadorean nun from the seventeenth century who predicted widespread rebellion and apostasy within the religious orders which would take place just after the middle of the twentieth century. She also predicted terrible, widespread corruption and immorality, specifically the corruption of children and the decadence of Catholic priests.
One of the things that struck me in reading Ann Carey’s book was the passive-aggressive nature of progressives. The truth is the liberal sisters were full of rage against the Catholic authorities. They were (and are) revolutionaries who are determined to overturn what they see as a misogynistic, hierarchical, oppressive regime. They truly see themselves as radical campaigners–freedom fighters who are standing with the poor and needy and oppressed for peace and justice. Well okay. That’s fine, but they wage their aggressive campaign with the lies of false victimhood, the blackmail of wounded feelings, the manipulation of methods and the sneaky techniques of sentimentality.
So on the one hand they are busy pumping out propaganda, manipulating elections, bullying the sisters who won’t go along with their radical agenda, engineering back room deals, playing cat and mouse with the Vatican, delaying judgement through endless “dialogue” and politicking for power–then when the patience of the authorities runs out they cry big crocodile tears–”What you are doing is sooo divisive! We are so hurt! We are wounded! We have deep concerns!” They put out their bottom lips in a little pout and turn on the tears for sympathy. Suddenly they are the wounded ones, the victims who are being persecuted by big Daddy.
We get this self righteous crap from progressives all the time. They manipulate, scheme, blackmail and indoctrinate and then when someone calls them on it they play the victim card with a big, sad look on their face, “How can you be soo hurtful to a person like me who is only trying to help???”
This is why Ann Carey’s book is such a treasure. It’s measured. It’s documented. It is not a polemic, but a solid historical study of the disaster in Catholic women’s orders in the USA. Furthermore, her study of the women’s orders is valid reflection of the condition of the whole Catholic Church in the USA. Just as there are now two conferences of superiors of women’s religious orders–one she calls ‘change oriented’ and the other ‘traditional’ so there are two Catholic churches in America–one that is actually in a state of constant, understated dissent from Catholic teaching and the other which lines up behind the magisterium, the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Father.
Take your pick.