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Stamp Your Feet! Print E-mail
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014

I’ve been following with some bemusement the interchanges between Cardinal Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). For readers unaware of the developments, I'll present them here in abbreviated form:

CDF: “Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, begotten and not made, the second Person of the Holy Trinity?”

LCWR: “Why are you asking us that question? What gives you the authority to ask it?”
    

CDF: “Again, Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, incarnate by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary?”


LCWR: “You have no right to pick on us simply because we’re women. You arrogant misogynists!  We believe that hierarchical structures must be dismantled!”


CDF: “Sisters, you seem to argue that you are ‘beyond Jesus.’ Do you in fact believe that man may be saved in the name of Jesus alone? That Christ alone reveals the Father to man, and man to himself?”
    

LCWR: “Why are you using sexist language? We are offended by your pronouns.”
    

CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father?”


LCWR: “We have advanced degrees in theology. We have received awards from our friends – we mean, from prestigious theological societies. Why are you suggesting that we are incompetent? Is it because we’re women?”
    

CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, yes or no?”
    

LCWR: “Where were you when bishops were hiding pedophiles? Why are you picking on us all of a sudden? Is it to distract people from your incompetence?”
    

CDF: “Sisters, the question is fundamental. At every Mass we affirm that Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the sole savior of man – of the human race. Do you believe this or not?”
    

LCWR: “We don’t like your attitude! Why are you shouting? What is this really all about?”
     

CDF: “All right, let’s move to something else. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings regarding marriage, sexual relations, the family, and the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death?”
    

LCWR: “Why are you ignoring the work we do with the poor?”
    

CDF: “Work with the poor is not at issue. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”
    

LCWR: “Too many people forget that the Church has many teachings regarding the poor!”
    

CDF: “Those are not in question. Do you affirm the Church’s prohibitions against contraception, abortion, sodomy, and divorce?”
    

LCWR: “Why do you assume that we speak with one voice?”
    

CDF: “We assume no such thing. We want to know whether you affirm the Church’s teachings.”
    

LCWR: “The Church needs women in positions of leadership.”
    

CDF: “As to that, the question is whether you or other women should be leading this organization. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”


LCWR: “Which teachings?”
   


       Overseeing the collapse of Catholic parish life

CDF: “Do you affirm the Church’s teachings on the broad range of sexual issues?”
    

LCWR: “We are distressed that women’s voices have not been heard!”
    

CDF: “Do you affirm the teachings?”
    

LCWR: “Stop shouting!  We don’t like your aggression!”
    

CDF: “Do you affirm the teaching authority of the Church?  Are you Catholic?”


LCWR: “Of course we’re Catholic! We attend Mass.”
    

CDF: “That is not the question. Let us ask again. Protestants do not believe in the teaching authority of the Church. That is what makes them Protestant. Do you believe in the teaching authority of the Church?”
    

LCWR: “We believe that even laymen share in the teaching authority.”
    

CDF: “Please attend. Do you believe that, when the Church has declared a thing to be evil, such as abortion, or sodomy, the faithful must learn to think with the mind of the Church? Do you believe that the Church is our Mother and Teacher?”
    

LCWR: “We believe in dialogue, and you don’t. The good Pope John believed in dialogue.”
    

CDF: “The good Pope John called the Church our Mother and Teacher. Do you believe that?”
    

LCWR: “Mothers don’t impose hide-bound rules and legalistic definitions.”


CDF: “Do you believe in the teaching authority of Holy Mother, the Church?”


LCWR: “We cannot have a conversation with someone who continually accuses us.” sniffle, “berates us,” sniffle, “looks down upon us,” two sniffles, “believes that he is right simply because he is male,” snort, toss of the head, “is not as qualified as we are to discuss difficult points of theology,” purse of the lips, “and is obviously not in accord with the Church that is to come.”
    

CDF: “I take that to mean no.”
    

LCWR: “Don’t you dare put words in our mouths!”

I have a dream. I have a dream that the orders of religious women in America will think of competence, if not of faithfulness, and show the door to women who have overseen the collapse of the glory of Catholic parish life in this country.

When you begin as the general manager of the Yankees, and in three decades your club finds itself overmatched against a good Little League team, it’s time to step down and give the job to somebody else. As it happens, there are orders of sisters that are stocked with novices, and enthusiasm, and love of Christ and His Church. Let their leaders, who are women and religious, lead this conference, and move from strength to strength.

The LCWR has it dead wrong. We want them out, because we want more women religious, more faithful, more influential in schools and hospitals and colleges, and more effective in converting a very silly, sad, and vicious world to Christ.

 
Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 
 
 
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Comments (56)Add Comment
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written by ron a., May 13, 2014
Brilliant as usual, Anthony. What a sad and terribly unfortunate state of affairs that has developed over the years.
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written by Br. Bruno, May 14, 2014
Your script sums it up quite well. Thank you.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 14, 2014
LCWR rep Laurie Brink pronounced that the LCWR have "moved beyond Christ." (Mr. Esolen has woven this remark into his piece.)

My oh my, but the "leaders" of the "council" hold themselves in high esteem.

Anytime one of these people take the stage in The Church, and Catholics are debating about them, I always tell them what their rep Laurie Brink said in her speech at their annual convention a few years ago. When they hear this, their jaws drop, and the debate ends.

By their own words, the people in the LCWR are not even Christians, much less Catholics.
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written by DeGaulle, May 14, 2014
As the photo shows, it won't be long before most of these ladies will be answering to Final Authority.
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written by Jack,CT, May 14, 2014
WOW,I am simply without words after reading
the "back and Forth" here.

I was raised to respect our sisters and we
put this in jeopardy when truly what is
a Lay group always has been makes attempts
to "rewrite" what i medicine we call the
"chain of command".

I shall pray for this lay group that has
erupted from the "feminist" movement i the USA.

How nice it was when "Men were men and woman were
woman!
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written by Dennis Larkin, May 14, 2014
In my old diocese of Salina, the Sisters of St Joseph of Concordia have been busily at work undermining the teaching authority of the Church for fifty years since the Council. Nearly zero young, new vocations in that time, and my how they are aging. But there is still a CSJ sister who has headed the diocesan youth ministry program, and she's nearly seventy. Youth ministry at seventy! I have seen a glimmer of reality lately in that they supported the bishops' suit against Obamacare. But what trememdous damage they have done to the Faith in the Salina Diocese.

A year or so ago, Carmelites nuns asked to found a monastery in the diocese; they needed a single dedicated chaplain. The bishop refused. I have to think it had a lot to do with the antipathy of the locally-powerful Sisters of St Joseph to orthodox nuns.
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written by BeeKaay, May 14, 2014
There is nothing to worry about, God is taking care of this the old fashioned way: Demographics.

The left wing dominated orders are aging quickly and not getting any vocations. Eventually all of them will die out.

The faithful religious orders are bursting at the seams with vocations. They are the future.

The LCWR will be put on the ash heap of history as a Marxist organization.
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written by Schm0e, May 14, 2014
Dream on.
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written by Sister S, May 14, 2014
Chris in Maryland,

A small clarification, Sr. Brink did not hold this view herself, but admitted that was an issue. Her solution was reconciliation with the church.

I have spoken to individual sisters in the LCWR who don't know what's going on. Leaders do not discuss these things with members.

This is a leadership dispute. It's wrong to spread theories like everybody in the LCWR is marching in lockstep.

This only plays into the hands of those who want this to be so, to gain support for their cause.

It's important to make a distinction between member communities that have their own constitutions, and a union for superiors.

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written by Andy, May 14, 2014
My sister is a Discalced Carmelite nun, and has been on the receiving end of wrath at the hands of such "women religious" for well over a decade. It resulted in her being forced out of a community, wandering the country looking for a new community (while being blacklisted) and practically homeless. She is one of the most charitable people I know, and she has some very strong words for the likes of these "sisters". They are an evil bunch.
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written by kelso, May 14, 2014
Do not get it. Just condemn the "organization" and move on, Holy Office. Dialogue with such pathetic people is insulting. Is the LCWR in favor of anything Catholic, or even the natural law on morals? "Sisters"? These women have long since ceased being "religious Catholic Sisters."
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written by Susan Gerard, May 14, 2014
If the matter were not so serious, I'd believe this was a reductio ad absurdem. thank god I am in my 9th decade.
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written by Sue, May 14, 2014
The LCWR have made a trashing of the credibility of Catholic nuns. How telling that the selfless giving of nuns in the Civil War is milked mercilessly by the LCWR's because they don't have much to show for themselves nowadays. That was when nuns really did mucky work in the field hospitals. Nowadays, instead of fielding nuns, doctors, and teachers (and adoption agencies!), Church officials are sitting back and charging it up to Obamacare and the Fifth Reich.

I say, the Church should go Amish and bring back the field hospitals in more than just a metaphor.
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written by Sheila, May 14, 2014
Ray, the group you mention is the CMSWR (Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious), a group of habit wearing, Church affirming, obedient to the Magisterium women. They are the ones overflowing with vocations. I belonged to a community in the LCWR. In speaking with one of the sisters recently, she said her community was dying. They have only had two enter in decades. I calculate that in 15 years, those left in this community will have such loses that they will have to merge with other communities, as did the Dominicans of Peace, another LCWR community. So sad.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 14, 2014
Sister S:

Thank you for your response. One of the sad problems of the modern and post-modern era is that terms that used to mean something in one age (brother or sister) are now employed but are freighted with different, and sometimes alien meanings.

This forces me to begin by saying that I believe that Jesus is the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, and I love him and obey him. If you and I share that, then happily, we are brother and sister in Christ.

You have challenged my short statement about Laurie Brink, who is a leader and rep of the LCWR. The statement I quoted was, as you may know, from her 2007 address to the LCWR. I have stated that Laurie, and those who agree with Laurie Brink, are, by their own words, not Catholic and not Christian.

Being very familiar with her 2007 work, I challenge your statement. It is not true to conclude or to suggest, at least from her 2007 text, that Laurie Brink's option for "reconciliation" means one is a professing Christian - i.e., that "reconciliation" to Laurie Brink means being reconciled to Christ or being reconciled to The Church."

In fact, when you read her 2007 remarks about what "reconciliation" means - it simply amounts to staying in place, while believing what "Sojourners" believe. In fact, none of the 4 options Laurie Brink outlines involves being "reconciled to Christ and the Church." The are, in fact, 4 different ways of rejecting Christ.

If, since 2007, Laurie Brink has professed the Nicene Creed, then she is reconciled to Christ. I can only go on what I have from her on paper from 2007.

Below are the pertinent words from her 2007 address, which I bracket btw the words BEGIN and END:

BEGIN:

I can recognize four different general “directions” in which religious congregations seem to be moving. Not one of the four is better or worse than the others…. the directions include:
1. Death with Dignity and Grace
2. Acquiescence to Others’ Expectations
3. Sojourning in a New Land not yet Known
4. Reconciliation for the Sake of the Mission

"[Sojourning] involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond
Jesus. …Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian. When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s, they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the Godof Moses and the God of Mohammed. … The emergence of the women’s movement with its concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.

As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my
core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most
important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the
Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of
Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold
similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth
and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing
realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God….

… Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a
movement into the very heart of God? … a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life....”

END

So if Laurie Brink says that there are 4 ways to go, and none of the 4 ways are better or worse than the others, and one of the ways is described as "moving beyond Christ" and that this means that "Jesus is not the most important narrative" then Laurie Brink has, as to her beliefs, rejected Christ, even though she may have opted for "Reconciliation for the sake of Mission."

Laurie Brink is just doing run-of-the-mill rhetorical slight-of-hand that we have all become used to seeing on the television news these days, believing that she can communicate in a post-modern way (post-modern was how she posited herself in her speech) and escape accountability.

She cannot. The question is "Who do you say that I am?" Her answer - in 2007 - was: "That doesn't matter."

Not a Christian response in 2007, and not, if she holds that today, my sister.
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written by Ellen, May 14, 2014
I was taught by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and recently met one of the members of the order. I swear, I was afraid to use the words; man, he, him or any word pertaining to the male sex. The order I remember has totally weirded out.
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written by Bridget, May 14, 2014
Andy, I hope that your sister has found a good new community. Littleton, CO has a wonderful Discalced Carmelite monastery and they are affiliated with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. God Bless.
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, May 14, 2014
#1 "LCWR: “Why are you ignoring the work we do with the poor?”
 Dear Sisters, The United Way does great work with the poor; they are not to be equated with The Church.

#2 I once met up with a Sister who taught me in grade school = a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (of Jeanne Grammick fame). I had already been ordained deacon and she wondered why it was that I could not administer the Sacrament of the Sick to those who were ill. As recently as last week, I happened to be talking to some Sisters of the same community who, when they learned that I was a deacon, launched into a tirade about women not being ordained deacons (I just smiled as I knew any response would hopelessly fall on deaf ears).

#3 The problem with the "Nuns On The Bus" crowd is that they too often get succor from bishops. I once had a bishop tell me that women religious were taken advantage of for so many years that in that they worked for a pittance - like slaves. It didn't seem like the thing to do to correct this bishop but I did think to myself, "Have you no appreciation of the great gift of their lives lived in sacrifice for Christ and His Church? Do you think that the priesthood and religious life are simply employment options for Catholics?"
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written by Sister S, May 14, 2014
BeeKaay,

There are no left wing or right wing communities. Individuals might have either political views. Communities are defined by their constitutions, not by who they vote for.

Ray,

Individuals join a community, not a union. Membership in any union does not confirm orthodoxy.

A union should not be more important than the actual community.





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written by jay, May 14, 2014
LCWR 'sisters'?! 'The Episcopal Church Welcomes You'!
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 14, 2014
Sister S:

I have just submitted a longer response to you about Laurie Brink's own words and her "apparent" solution.

While I think Laurie Brink is clearly, from her own words, not a Christian, I do agree with you that not all women in the various orders represented by LCWR are in the same camp as Laurie Brink, and I am not saying that.

I am simply saying that the members of the LCWR, i.e., the leadership council themselves (and not all members of the associtaed orders), are represented by Laurie Brink, and they clearly agree with her (because if they didn't agree with her - we'd already know it - from their own lips).
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written by Ted Seeber, May 14, 2014
Cardinals are from Mars, LCWR nuns are from Venus?
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written by Briana, May 14, 2014
A quotation from GK Chesterton comes to mind: "It is always easy to let the age have its head. It is far more difficult to keep one's own. It is easy to fall. There are a variety of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. In my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect."
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written by Walter, May 14, 2014
For all this time, I mistakenly thought that it was pastors who had ultimate responsibility for overseeing the glory of parish life and bishops who had responsibility for both pastors and sisters. Just as Adam was corrupted by Eve, the LCWR has just ruined everything for us males. Won't we ever learn?
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written by Ray, May 14, 2014
Sister S: I only make this formal reference to you, as I don't know if you are actually dressed as Sister. If you are Sister S is how I'll address you(happily), if you are not the I'll address you as S, I never used the word union in my initial response. So you make me wonder what you are reading into my initial prayerful response. If the union you refer is the Church, then I'll need to have you and your order placed on the parish prayer line. At any rate I will pray for your change of heart to be conformed to the Pope and the Magesterium.
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written by Tony, May 14, 2014
Chris: Thank you for that passage. That is extraordinarily revealing and damning, far worse than what even I had expected.

Notice that as late as 2007 she does not recognize FAITHFULNESS and JOYFUL COMMITMENT TO CHRIST as a "way" for the congregations. Those are implicitly damned as conforming to the expectations of "others." The odd thing is that Sister Brink and her fellows regularly conform to the expectations of others -- their fellow feminists. Notice also that REPENTANCE and CONVERSION are not on the list, for those orders that have gone sour. Shameful, dishonest, contumacious, irresponsible, hard of heart.
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written by Sister S, May 14, 2014
Chris in Maryland,

I have read SR. Brink's speech. To be fair she did disagree with moving beyond Jesus, simply stated that there are those who see this as an option.

Yes, her views on reconciliation are not clear.

To claim that member communities agree with a conference speaker is a broad generalization, since it's a conference only for superiors and is not always attended by all.

There are internal factions in the LCWR.

Sister Sarah Butler has written about this. I have friends whose communities are in the LCWR and disagree with new age views.



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written by Sister S, May 14, 2014
Ray,

I am a religious sister faithful to the teachings of the church.

The LCWR and CSMWR are both unions for superiors. Membership does not guarantee orthodoxy or heterodoxy.

Its faithfulness to a communities constitution that does.


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written by Patrick, May 14, 2014
And yet the LCWR is recognized canonically and the SSPX is not. Absurd.
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written by Tony, May 14, 2014
Patrick -- and that alone gives the lie to their sniffy contention that the Bishops have singled them out because they are women. Tell it to the SSPX, sisters, or to the early liberation theologians, who were heavily male-dominated.

Apparently a very silly Barbara Marx Hubbard has "responded" to Cardinal Mueller with a lot of Gnostic Gnostrums, hopey-changey slippery-gooey ungrammatical chirpy-churchy stuff. I cannot parody it; it exceeds my capacity.
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written by Paul, May 15, 2014
Very strange dialogue between the CDF and the LCWR above. Is this a conference or some kind of hearing? My impression of the limited exchange is both sides come off poorly. The LCWR should have answered the questions honestly and let the chips fall where they may. I don't know what the LCWR wants to happen but I'll bet it is impossible. I've had some very productive exchanges with people of different Christian denominations and some Jewish people regarding God, gender, did Eve get a bad rap in Genesis, the role of women in the first century Church and what should be their role today.
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written by Carol LaSalle, May 15, 2014
Thank you for being clear, concise and correct with your observations.

The LCWR on the other hand can be summed up in one word: obfuscation.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 15, 2014
Sister S:

I am sorry to disagree with you, but I am not being unfair to Laurie Brink. I am holding her to her words.

I certainly believe you are faithful, and that you have friends whose communities are in the LCWR and disagree with new age views. I have not suggested or stated otherwise. Please rest assured that you and your faithful sisters are not at issue here. I understand that you don't like being grouped with Laurie Brink. I am certainly not doing that. (I would suggest, however, that she might be doing that.) So let us cease mixing that issue with the issue at hand - which is Laurie Brink and her "leadership" colleagues.

I have never been unfair to Laurie Brink. It is, I am sad to say, imprecise, and therefore untrue, and giving undue credit to Laurie Brink, to try to interpret Laurie Brink's words as a "disagreement" with "moving beyond Jesus." In fact, the whole thrust of Laurie Brink's address was that she "did not disagree" with "moving beyond Jesus." And the option she chose has no content about professing Christ or kinship with the Church.

Laurie Brink, and men and women in the Church that operate like her, are parasites. They want to feed off of the living host of the Church that confesses Jesus, so that they can deny Christ and consume the Church.


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written by George Waite, May 15, 2014
These women are about as "diverse" as skim milk; they'd only be "representing the future of the church" if this were the year 1840.
You can count on one hand the number of non-white faces in that picture. The Tea Party is better integrated.
Pathetic.
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written by Ed Hamilton, May 15, 2014
Seems appropriate that all those that can't public affirm the teachings of the church should be removed from leadership and all those that can affirm that they believe things Catholic can vote for those who are qualified to lead. The others can go lead their own splinter group that they want the church to become... if they want...free country...lol.
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written by Elizabeth D, May 15, 2014
About Sister Laurie Brink, who was the only sister mentioned by name in the LCWR doctrinal assessment, who spoke of sisters moving beyond the Church and even beyond Christ, I wrote a book about her religious community, the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, which also includes more information shedding light on the context of very serious problems Sister Laurie saw in her community that led her to say that, and perhaps why she was saying that. Even the LCWR doctrinal assessment alludes that it should perhaps be seen as a cry for help. Sister Laurie is one of the youngest and plainly NOT one of the most radical members of her community, and the "moving beyond Christ" thing bothers her. The problems in her community are very serious and are described in eye opening detail in my book, and you may be surprised to read what Sister Laurie says she feels about these problems.
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written by Elizabeth D, May 15, 2014
The title of the book mentioned in my prior comment is _A Report on the Sinsinawa Dominicans Today_ and the chapter that sheds quite a bit of light on Sr Laurie is the one about "What is Eucharist for me?" You will need to do a search and find this online on my Father Mazzuchelli Society website. The book can be read in full online.
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written by Marisa, May 15, 2014
This piece by Anthony Esolen and a great many of the responses cause me tremendous sadness, as a lay woman in the Church. The tone is utterly mocking, disrespectful in the extreme, and justified by apparent confidence that the sisters of LCWR are absolutely wrong and the Vatican office is completely right. I get that this is how many fellow Catholics believe or wish that truth would be -- but there is NO justification for lack of love, charity, or respect...which is what the sisters of LCWR are committed to demonstrating in their dialogue with the Vatican. They have said nothing AT ALL in the tone written above. Disagree or misunderstand if you will, but please do not demean or condemn these good women. That seems a very minimum request.
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written by DS, May 15, 2014
The baseball metaphor couldn't be more -- forgive the pun -- off base. This is not about winning pennants, or (as suggested by the photo) choosing Medieval wimples vs. Walmart pantsuits as uniforms.

Fortunately, Pope Benedict, Cardinal Mueller and Archbishop Sartain have demonstrated an understanding of both the gravity and complexity of the situation. They have exhibited grace, patience, fortitude, humility and prayerful discernment. Most of all, they understand that this is not simply about bringing in "new management", but that it involves the spiritual lives and welfare of thousands of women in the LCWR, many of whom are faithful to Christ and His Church and not involved with the well-publicized shenanigans.

For me, the most compelling response to this crisis came in a conversation with a nun whose order is flourishing and belongs to CMSWR. Without commenting directly on the Vatican inquiry ("they have their work to do"), she offered her prayers, empathy and compassion to the sisters under the LCWR umbrella...and her prayers for the CDF. She didn't "want them out", but wanted to restore them to the fullness of life to which they have been called. That is a most orthodox and mature spiritual response.
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written by Marie, May 15, 2014
Perfectly stated! It is past time that these women be moved out of our church!
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 16, 2014
Marisa:

It is nor clear who you are speaking of when you use the phrase "the sisters of LCWR." The LCWR is a "council" of "leaders" of women in various religious orders. The topic at hand are the group of "leaders," and specifically, Laurie Brink.

A man or woman who professes Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, with all authority in heaven and earth, and who loves and obeys Jesus, is a sister or brother, in Christ. The word sister for a woman who makes a vow in Catholic religious orders is a Catholic title of honor, signifying that she is a sister in Christ.

In the context involving men and women who "move beyond Christ" they have no claim on the title "brother" or "sister."

Returning to the individuals in question, the women who sit on the council of LCWR, their rep, Laurie Brink, has noted that "moving beyond Christ," because "he is not the most important narrative," and "he isn't the only Son of God," is "no better or no worse" than other choices available for orders associated with LCWR.

Laurie Brink, and men and women who are agree with Laurie Brink, are not brothers and sisters in Christ. They have no claim on Christ or his Church. They are parasites on the living host of the Church. They are outside of the Church, and since they intend to persist in denying Christ, their denial must be made public, and their opposition to Christ and the Church must become their title.

And they have no special claim because they are women.

These individuals want power...they are looking in the wrong place...the Church has no power...only Christ has power...and since they deny him...they have no recourse to his power.

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written by TerryC, May 16, 2014
One point that seems to be overlooked here is that for the members of the various orders represented by the LCWR these women in the LCWR are the people who are the leaders of their various congregations. Most of these congregations are dying not just because they have no vocations, but also because they have lost so many members. Why have they lost these members, often not because these woman have lost their vocations, but rather because they have been taken from them.
How difficult must it be for an orthodox woman whose spiritual director or abbess has replaced Liturgy of the Hours with enneagram labyrinths, and Mass with meaningless ritual.
The sisters of these congregations has a right to expect their leadership to help them think with the mind of the Church, not to lead them astray into a non-existent place "beyond Jesus", as if any where in the Cosmos could exist beyond God.
It is all of these women that the CDF is concerned about. Most of the members of the LCWR are already lost. The problem is how to save all the rest.
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written by Marian Ronan, Ph.D., May 16, 2014
Anthony Esolen's parody here of the conversation between the CDF and the leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is deeply misleading, disrespectful, and unChristian. I know a number of the women in LCWR leadership. They are deeply committed to the Catholic tradition and have dedicated their lives to educating, ministering to, and supporting American Catholics. What they said in the recent bears no resemblance to this mockery of them. Professor Esolen owes these women a profound apology.
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 16, 2014
I have carefully read Laurie Brink's preferred 4th option - the one she called "no better or worse" than "moving beyond Christ." She calls it "Reconciliation for the sake of Mission."

Opening notes set the rhetorical frame – Laurie Brink notes some articles in one issue of NC Reporter (text in parentheses are my comments):

1. Persons akin to LCWR expect to be allowed to operate at Catholic retreats without knowledge of the cognizant Bishop
2. Laurie Brink then suggests that any Bishop who won’t go along with that is akin to Caiphas and Pontius Pilate (conversely, the personalities akin to LCWR are "Christ-unfairly-condemned")
3. 100 German theologians want the “structure” of the CDF overhauled, because they dislike with the theology of Benedict XVI…and then…
4. she quips “All we needed…was an article on the clergy sex abuse scandal.”

5. Pivot with dismissive remark about “Catholics who vote Republican and listen to Mother Angelica”

…Laurie Brink then lists the ingredients of “the coming conflagration… [in] the American church” …

a. Lay ecclesial ministers are feeling disenfranchised.
b. Catholic theologians are denied academic freedom (e.g. Eliz. Johnson is not free to deny Christ in her books that Fordham forces on undergrad students)
c. Religious and lay women feel scrutinized simply because of their biology.
d. Gays and lesbians desire to participate as fully human, fully sexual Catholics within their parishes.
e. young adults are drifting away from the very elements that once strengthened religious ties, set moral high ground, and created community.

She makes a revealing statement: "What is at stake is the very heart of the Church itself."

Laurie Brink quotes Paul’s Letter to Corinthians, and then explains what is intended by “Reconciliation.”

1. The process of reconciliation begins not with the oppressor (Catholics who don’t go along with LCWR) but with the victim (LCWR)
2. the victim “initiates reconciliation with their oppressor”
3. “Are we (LCWR) not victims of patriarchy within our society and church? Have we not—individually and corporately—felt the heavy hand of church politics?”
4. “Has not the rigidity of the hierarchy set a poor example for its priests, who, formed in a spirit of domination and dogma, become not servants of Christ but stalwart soldiers of the Vatican?” and
5. “therefore, as vocal victims, aren’t we the best ones to extend an invitation to be reconciled?”

6. “Neither the Vatican nor we are able to envision how the Church will look if the women religious… (i.e., LCWR) earnestly seek reconciliation with the very men who control the power in but not the Spirit of the Church.”

She concludes that "We [i.e., the congregations of LCWR] are on the verge of extinction, not because of some cataclysmic event, but because for the last thirty years or so, we have slowly removed ourselves from Church circles, and have failed to recognize when we were no longer needed as a work force, that perhaps the Spirit had a new call for us."

In sum, Laurie Brink and her cohorts believe they are going extinct because they (mistakenly) went rogue outside the Church. They want to force a path back inside the Church by orchestrating their "reconciliation" initiative, so that they can recruit new age gnostics, feminists and LBGT activists into their shrinking organizations (like they did under the radar in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s), and go rogue again inside the Church.

Yes - one thing Laurie Brink stated is undeniable: I have carefully read Laurie Brink's preferred 4th option - the one she called "no better or worse" than "moving beyond Christ." She calls it "Reconciliation for the sake of Mission."

Opening notes set the rhetorical frame – Laurie Brink notes some articles in one issue of NC Reporter (text in parenthese are my comments):

1. Persons akin to LCWR expect to be allowed to operate at Catholic retreats without knowledge of the cognizant Bishop
2. Laurie Brink then suggests that any Bishop who won’t go along with that is akin to Caiphas and Pontius Pilate (conversely, the personalities akin to LCWR are "Christ-unfairly-condemned")
3. 100 German theologians want the “structure” of the CDF overhauled, because they dislike with the theology of Benedict XVI…and then…
4. she quips “All we needed…was an article on the clergy sex abuse scandal.”

5. Seguey with dismissive remark about “Catholics who vote Republican and listen to Mother Angelica”

…Laurie Brink then lists the ingredients of “the coming conflagration… [in] the American church” …

a. Lay ecclesial ministers are feeling disenfranchised.
b. Catholic theologians are denied academic freedom (e.g. Eliz. Johnson is not free to deny Christ in her books that Fordham forces on undergrad students)
c. Religious and lay women feel scrutinized simply because of their biology.
d. Gays and lesbians desire to participate as fully human, fully sexual Catholics within their parishes.
e. young adults are drifting away from the very elements that once strengthened religious ties, set moral high ground, and created community.

She makes a revealing statement: "What is at stake is the very heart of the Church itself."

Laurie Brink quotes Paul’s Letter to Corinthians, and then explains what is intended by “Reconciliation.”

1. The process of reconciliation begins not with the oppressor (Catholics who don’t go along with LCWR) but with the victim (LCWR)
2. the victim “initiates reconciliation with their oppressor”
3. “Are we (LCWR) not victims of patriarchy within our society and church? Have we not—individually and corporately—felt the heavy hand of church politics?”
4. “Has not the rigidity of the hierarchy set a poor example for its priests, who, formed in a spirit of domination and dogma, become not servants of Christ but stalwart soldiers of the Vatican?” and
5. “therefore, as vocal victims, aren’t we the best ones to extend an invitation to be reconciled?”

6. “Neither the Vatican nor we are able to envision how the Church will look if the women religious… (i.e., LCWR) earnestly seek reconciliation with the very men who control the power in but not the Spirit of the Church.”

She concludes that "We [i.e., the congregations of LCWR] are on the verge of extinction, not because of some cataclysmic event, but because for the last thirty years or so, we have slowly removed ourselves from Church circles, and have failed to recognize when we were no longer needed as a work force, that perhaps the Spirit had a new call for us."

In sum, Laurie Brink and her cohorts believe they are going extinct because they (mistakenly) went rogue outside the Church. They want to force a path back inside the Church by orchestrating their "reconciliation" initiative, so that they can recruit new age gnostics, feminists and LBGT activists into their shrinking organizations (like they did under the radar in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s), and go rogue again inside the Church.

Her aim: "What is at stake is the very heart of the Church itself."

Here's a poetic response to Laurie Brink's 2007 Proposal: Let the Church appoint Andy's sister, the Carmelite nun persecuted by those akin to the LCWR, and ask her to be ambassador of The Church and her children to Laurie Brink and her cohorts of "Reconciliation."

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written by Walter, May 16, 2014
Chris, I beg you to take out your high school/college English texts and review them. Brevity is a virtue!
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written by Tito of Tacloban, May 16, 2014
Stamp your feet, indeed! Is it really that bad? Could it be they are waiting for a female Messiah?
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written by Gail Finke, May 16, 2014
It's just as if you were THERE!!!
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written by Chris in Maryland, May 16, 2014
Walter:

It is tedious to read Laurie Brink's words, but she is stuck with them.

You are free to skip reading the reiteration.
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written by Patrick, May 17, 2014
Tony,
I don't think the LCWR can really be compared with the SSPX, only contrasted, as the LCWR is still canonically recognized by Pope Francis despite keeping openly unorthodox stances, while the SSPX is not canonically recognized despite having no unorthodox stances.
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written by sohos, May 17, 2014
It is too bad for the CDF to be too imposing on the LCWR. We know what the Churchmen did in France asking questions with the intention of accusing her and finally burnt her on the stakes. If the sisters of LCWR did not believe in Jesus Christ, how could have they been baptized, admitted into a religious order and then put in the leading position. Though the interview above presents them in a negative light, their position is not altogether negative. They are progressive idealists who want change in the Church. The CDF is led by Gerhard Müller who did not have a good reputation among his people in the diocese of Regensburg. More than 90% of the citizens of Regensburg (Catholics) were unhappy with his way of "bourgeoise" behaviour. He wanted to be out of the diocese and he got landed in CDF, because of his friendship with Pope Benedict XVI whose private house was in the diocese of Regensburg and Pope's brother George Ratzinger was also in Regensburg. After calling to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI got so many letters from Germany, expressing disapprovement and displeasure for having brought Gerhard Müller to Rome. Interestingly, Benedict XVI never made him Cardinal, though he made others, excluding Gerhard Müller. Müller is knows for his authoritarian ways among people who know him. It is too bad such disrespecting should be thrown at the sisters. They could have been directly asked at the allegations which make them "rebellious" in the eyes of the Church or "revolutionary" in the eyes of the forwarding looking lay people and clerics. It is bad and very sad that the Churchmen should be trying to supress the sisters. Jesus never did that. Pity!
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written by sophia, May 17, 2014
Beautiful! Dr Esolen has perfectly captured the tone and essential content of the feminist Catholic religious professionals. Thanks, too, to Chris in Maryland for posting the precise words of Sister Laurie Brink's revealing address.

Even so, a few voices from the feminist base, like Marian Ronan, and "Paul," predictably persist in regurgitating the LCWR public relations points. Even more surprising are the large number of commenters who seem genuinely surprised to learn the truth about the rebel nuns. Where can have they been for the past 30 years?
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written by Interested Observer, May 17, 2014
This comment is partly in response to Deacon Ed Peltier

A brief question here. Why all the focus on religious women? I can see a desire for a return to the days in which monastics (and non-monastic brothers and sisters) worked with little expect of a financial return.

However, I would ask the following question. Were the monks and/or non-monastic brothers living as simply as the nuns and/or non-monastic sisters?

When somebody demands more privileges in the name of equality, sometimes the answer is to take those privileges away from someone else.
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written by ron a., May 17, 2014
Sohos---It's inevitable that seeds of heresy are spread in controversial posts such as this. In spiritual battle, they will not be spared! To compare these women with Joan of Arc is absurdity of the highest order. ("About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter.") By the way, those "churchmen...in France" were English, and their evil deed was strictly "political".
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written by Paul, May 17, 2014
Sophia,

My Mother (GRHS) was a faithful member in full communion with the HRCC. She believed in and did her best to follow all official teaching of the HRCC. She was very disappointed the woman's movement inside the HRCC became hijacked by a bunch of man hating, pro-choice feminists who want to be ordained. She was content with her role of cleaning the church but I saw what a substantial role women played in the ministry of Jesus Christ and as I understood woman could contribute much more to the HRCC within the existing rules than as cleaning woman. I gathered from some men (small minority) in the HRCC they blamed Eve for the fall of mankind and there was some misogyny there because of that, that was years ago so it is possible things have changed. To better understand the roots of Christianity I studied Judaism. I was quite surprised in Judaism God is neither male or female, God is above gender. Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God of course had to be male. Now if the LCWR is a heretical group of nuns they should leave the HRCC or be excommunicated. My point being the CDF comes off bad because if there is proof the LCWR or some of its members are heretics the proof should be presented and judgement pronounced. Besides if the CDF is trying to get heretics out of the HRCC I think the sites should be set way higher and work from top to bottom. IMO everybody keeps beating around the bush, the HRCC is rotten to the core. The problems are way beyond just turning time back to before V2. But I guess its easier for the CDF to pick on some nuns with no power then on one of their buddies.
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written by Anthony, May 18, 2014
Let the LCWR join a "faith community" that celebrates itsef, creation, diversity, etc like the Unitarian Universalites. They have left the Church and Her protection along time ago by their dissent.One thing that deeply makes me sad is that not all the Sisters in the communities that have joined the LCWR hold to the beliefs or mission of the LCWR. These few must suffer more than any of us laity as they are confronted with reality daily. I would like to believe that these faithful religious do not get harrassed by their "Presient's" but I'm not certain. I visited the Motherhouse of a community that belongs to the LCWR and the division was obvious more than in dress! I pray for those faithful martyrs whose contribution to the Church ought to be recognized.
I once belonged to a community of religious men. While not lumped together like the LCWR, the same lack of fidelity is alive and well in various degrees and perhaps not spoken by the use of the media and nuns on a bus! My experience centered around the misuse of alcohol, extravagant lifestyles, the highest line of foods and goods, individualism, promoting and reading works contrary to Catholicism, irreverence toward the Real Presence and in some houses no reserved Sacrament. I recall men wanting to be last in receiving the "wine" so they could finish it and bread made of more than flour and water. After 18 plus years, I had to leave. Lack of acceptance and constantly being required to defend your beliefs was more than I could handle. A spiritual director told me that if you stop hitting your head against the wall, your headache will go away so I did! I praise God for the gift of faith not lost even after having two priests break the seal of confession when in a drunken stooper. Faith is a gift to be grateful for, never take for granted and pray to be deepened. Fidelity to the truth and THE TRUTH brings about healing and hope. I takes away the need to be self-righteous or condemn others. Looking in truth at your own soul is humbling and opens one up to mercy. Mercy accepted invites one to be merciful in prayer, word and deed. It is Mother Church who must be truted to bring back the dissenters with the love that only She can offer. Ours is to adore our Eucharistic Lord and live under the mantle of Our Blessed Lady. Thank you for allowing me to sound of!
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written by Robert, May 20, 2014
The leadership is ageing and dying out. This is a problem that will soon go away by itself, and the younger sisters will take over and revese the trend of the last half century to save the Church as did their predicessors a century ago. Just a little more patience and we will have thirty year old youth leaders to replace our current 80 year old youth leaders,

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