Is The LCWR Intervention A “Disaster”? Yes, And Here’s How To Fix It

Is The LCWR Intervention A “Disaster”? Yes, And Here’s How To Fix It November 17, 2014

Cue the outrage machine. Cardinal O’Malley was asked about the LCWR Intervention and called it a “disaster.”

When you watch the actual interview, it’s clear that O’Malley is referring to the public relations optics of having on the one hand a bunch of humble nuns working with the poor, and on the other hand a bunch of (male) bishops from the Vatican putting them in receivership.  And on that score, he’s absolutely right.

From everything I’ve read, it seems clear to me that many elements of the LCWR have slipped into heterodoxy and that some sort intervention, at least, is called for.

At the same time, we should be wise as serpents and recognize that the Church doesn’t need unforced PR fiascos.

One way out of this square circle that I have proposed is to revise the institution of the Papal Legate. Back in the Middle Ages, when communication lines were poor, and there was some situation to be dealt with, the Pope would appoint someone as legate, with the full powers of the Pope, to go and rectify the situation. The legates had full power, but limited to a specific issue, and to the duration of their mission. Quite often, because of the corruption of Rome, the Pope would pluck some holy monk out of his monastery and send him on such missions, with powers greater than cardinals, archbishops and abbots.

The institution of the Papal Legate seems to me to be a clear answer to several significant questions we are asking today, such as: how to increase the representation and involvement of women and laity within the Church hierarchy without unwarranted innovation; and how to reform the Curia and other institutions when the problem seems to be not just specific persons and policies, but the very culture of those institutions. If there is some theological objection to naming women or laymen as Legate, I have no idea what it could be. (I haven’t done the research, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some precedent, although obviously it would have been the exception rather than the rule.)

In the case of the LCWR intervention, it seems obvious to me that appointing an orthodox female religious as the Papal Legate in charge of the intervention would have avoided a lot of the bad optics. And it’s not crazy to think that it might even be more likely to produce good results in terms of the intervention itself, since a woman religious quite possibly could have better insight into the life of women religious than a bishop.

This, it seems to me, is the sort of idea that is completely in keeping with the best traditions of the Church, at the same time as bringing a fresh and intelligent solution to some important issues we are facing at the moment.



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  • Ken

    I agree with the article. My impression was that he was referring to the PR aspect of it. He also stumbled when he was asked about female priests and made a first good answer and then had a hard time when she continued to press him. I will say that I’ve never been interviewed on television for millions of people to see so I don’t know what it is like to be in that situation. I would like to think I would be quick and accurate on every answer but I would probably be as I am in real life I would say something and then, after reflection, wished I answered it in a different way.

    • Yep. Very wise comment. Thank you.

    • AquinasMan

      I agree regarding the LCWR comments, but it’s not that hard with the “female priest” issue. If you’re against it, you say that. If you’re not, you say you wish you could ordain them. Either your conscience is conformed to the doctrine, or it’s not. If you go on national TV, be prepared not to lie.

      • Ken

        He did say he was against it several times. When she compared it to race saying that Priests can be of different races but not sexes he answered that if he started a religion that perhaps there would be women priests but he didn’t start the religion Jesus did. He seemed to be thrown off by the comparison of race and tried to answer it in a different way. I think it was a mistake but I don’t have the experience of being interviewed on TV and when I’m pressed on my faith sometimes I make a mistake perhaps you are so well “formed” and have so much experience in television this has never happened to you. I’m willing to give him a pass but I understand there are plenty of “perfect” Catholics who are unforgiving and never make mistakes who will never consider the possibility of a moment of human failure.

  • Frank

    That is exactly what I thought of after hearing the good Cardinal’s comment. By all means, send a sister or Superior from one of the orders still in full fidelity to the Magisterium to handle the intervention. Or send several. It makes perfect sense.

    I agree with Ken’s post on the difficulty of undergoing an on-camera interview; I’ve never had to do it, either, but between the pressure of having to think and answer in real time and the fact that the editors will later cut and splice the footage however they please, I can’t imagine I would come out very well. Cardinal O’Malley did a pretty good job, in my view. He is no stranger to the media, of course, given what he has been through in his Archdiocese since he took over there, but it still is never easy.

  • Sophia Sadek

    An even better approach would have been to give the LCWR the space they need in order to continue their good work. Attempting to enforce orthodoxy is one of the best ways to discredit the institution of orthodoxy.

    • TomH

      Orthodoxy is already discredited. Where have you been? No reasonable catholic denies they do good work. But what about their eteral salvation? Their ‘good’ works won’t save their souls. Oh dear, we must not ‘enforce orthodoxy’!! sounds like you need Michael voris desperately.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Orthodoxy remains untarnished in the eyes of true believers.

        • TomH

          what is this vague feel good nonsense? plain English please. i’ll take a crack at it. if you mean that those who remain faithful to christ through his catholic church – that is the orthodox faith, I say amen. those sisters are in rebellion against Christ, and that is a serious matter. and your dismissal of a final reckoning due to your “uppity” feminist inhuman ideology will get you nowhere. who are you anyway? you’re hiding. are you reaching out for help? are you catholic? what? even though you arouse my irate irish side I would rather agree to disagree civilly than hurl accusations back and forth. peace be with you..

          • Sophia Sadek

            I have news for you: The Catholic Church does not belong to Jesus. It belongs to Constantine Caesar and his merry band of corrupt bishops. They invented Catholic orthodoxy in the fourth century. The Church has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus, except to claim a trademark on the name.

          • TomH

            The things u are saying are silly. The church Has lasted and those heretical bishops and priests are just a footnote. And many bishops chose death rather than worship Caesar. And Constantine converted to Christ through Christ’s church before he died. So be an ‘uppity’ woman and face up to your confusion. Peace be with you.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Thank you for completely misrepresenting my point.

          • Near as I can tell, it wasn’t a misrepresentation. You’d rather believe lies than truth in support of your hatred of men.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Thank you for completely misrepresenting my position.

          • TomH

            If u show me where I specifically misrepresented your point I’ll apologize. but u have to show me. Otherwise, this is my last comment. God bless.

          • Sophia Sadek

            I mentioned Constantine’s merry band of corrupt bishops and you remarked that “those heretical bishops and priests are just a footnote.” This gives the impression that the corrupt bishops who created orthodoxy were actually heretics. It was the band of corrupt bishops that created the orthodoxy rendering the “heretical” church a footnote.

          • TomH

            I can see that I did not clarify my thought. By corrupt I meant all those bishops(more than 50% for three/four centuries after Christ)who rejected one or more doctrines embraced by/worked out by constantines merry band of bishops. Those bishops irrevocably associated with Constantine were orthodox. Constantine was orthodox and surrendered to baptism before he died. Meaning they they loved Jesus as true God and true man, who, Jesus, they also recognized established a church that came to be called the Catholic church. They and all the orthodox bishops who followed over three more centuries worked out the church’s canon, under the guidance of the holy spirit. That canon is the same as that held by constantines merry band, except more clearly defined. And it’s theSame canon we have today. You are free to accept or reject this. God bless

          • Sophia Sadek

            They loved Jesus so much that they persecuted his followers. It could be said that they loved political power and domination even more than they loved Jesus.

      • Don’t be fooled- Sophia Sadek is not Catholic, she’s a new-age Buddhist pagan who flunked theology, science, and history.

        • Sophia Sadek

          I flunked theology because I failed to recognize the divinity of Caesar. I consider that a badge of honor.

          • You flunked theology because you can’t understand John Chapter 6.

          • Sophia Sadek

            I flunked theology because I knew the true meaning of logos.

          • You sure don’t show it. You hate the unborn, the old, the sick, the dying, and think they deserve nothing more than the death penalty. You seem to hate men and heterosexuality as well.

            If you knew the true meaning of He who Is Truth, none of that would be a part of your life. Your opinions would be identical with orthodoxy, which is a part of He who Is Truth.

          • Sophia Sadek

            That is all news to me. My friends will be shocked to hear that. On the other hand, they will probably merely take it with a grain of salt.

          • I’m sure your friends all agree with you on the idea that the unborn and the elderly should just die and reduce the excess population.

            Unlike me, I like having new human beings on the planet for as long as possible, regardless of their number.

          • Sophia Sadek

            The more misery, the better, eh?

          • More people is more joy, not more misery. Only a psychopath would consider other people to be misery.

    • The space they need is not available in the church, at all.

      • Sophia Sadek

        They are beyond the pale. Good for them.

  • TomH

    The thing that is missing from this conversation(I haven’t listened to what o’malley
    Said)is that those sisters are committed to idolatry. Self worship. They are slaves to pride. Papal legate, whatever, is no guarantee they won’t reject Christ and his church. Your evaluation and the cardinal’s areas very naive. I know talk is cheap and Popes have terrible responsibilities. one problem. Is the p/c saturation. We’re told we have to to be nice. Otherwise no one listens. In a more honest society those sisters, who are rebellious, would have been told to acquiese, humble themselves before Christ or get the hell out.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Put those uppity women back in their place? And here you are accusing them of self-worship. What irony!

  • Luke

    The Apostolic Visitator was a woman religious.

    • Is that true?
      I was at the LCWR gathering last year and I’m fairly certain the CDF observer there was a man

      • NickD

        Those are two different things, I believe

      • Tim

        The Apostolic Visitor was Mother Mary Clare Millea, the American superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

  • johnnysc

    Humble nuns submit themselves to the teachings of Jesus and His Church.

  • niknac

    The nuns are closer to what most Catholics believe than the so called “orthodox” bishops. The bishops need to decide what they are going to do and do it, not try and “fix” the nuns.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Being bishops, that might not be possible. Their ships have already sailed.

    • The truth isn’t relative to what “most Catholics believe”, plus it’s pretty easy in the new cyber choirs to notice that the LCWR types are outnumbered in the convents about 10:1 by those wearing habits.

  • Tim

    Bad optics? The Apostolic Visitor was in fact a woman. She is Mother Mary Clare Millea, the American superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.