by Carl E. Olson | CWR Blog
Last August, I wrote a blog post, "O Sister, Where Art Thou? ", in which I stated:
The LCWR has long had an agenda of subverting Church authority and doctrine, and it has long used two simple tactics: ignore what Church leaders say and stall, stall, and stall. And, so far, it has worked. In addition, the leadership of the LCWR has long misused its authority and even misrepresented the positions of many of its members.
The subhead for that post, "After forty years of 'faithful dissent', the LCWR needs to go away'', summed up my stance fairly well. In short, like many Catholics, I'm quite tired of the endless chatting, and even coddling, that goes on with persons or groups who claim to be Catholic but who continually and consistently thumb their noses at Church teaching, practice, and authority—not just for a few years, but for a few decades!
It appears that Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is tiring of the nonsense as well. In a short but blunt April 30th address given to the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Müller zipped through the pleasantries and got down to business very quickly, focusing on two points of the contention: the LCWR leadership's objection that the CDF's April 2012 Doctrinal Assessment was too harsh and that it's finding were "unsubstantiated". Of the first, Card. Müller stated, in part:
Let me begin with the notion of “disproportionate sanctions.” One of the more contentious aspects of the Mandate—though one that has not yet been put into force—is the provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. This provision has been portrayed as heavy-handed interference in the day-to-day activities of the Conference. For its part, the Holy See would not understand this as a “sanction,” but rather as a point of dialogue and discernment. It allows the Holy See’s Delegate to be involved in the discussion first of all in order to avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church. Further, this is meant as an assistance to you, the Presidency, so as to anticipate better the issues that will further complicate the relationship of the LCWR with the Holy See.
He then noted that the LCWR recently gave its "Outstanding Leadership Award" (see PDF on the LCWR site) to theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, who, as I noted two years ago, "supported women's ordination in the 1970s and has challenged essential tenets of the Church's beliefs about Christ and salvation over the past three decades." Her 2011 book, Quest For the Living God, was strongly criticized by the USCCB, which published a 21-page critique, which stated that Johnson's book “contains misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church’s universal magisterium..." The USCCB then reaffirmed its criticisms in an October 2011 statement, saying, "The Committee comes to the conclusion that 'the language used in the book does not adequately express the faith of the Church.'"
In his address last week, Card. Müller said that the LCWR's recent honoring of Johnson "is a decision that will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment. Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops as well." Those are, without doubt, some pretty stern words. If the bishops and the LCWR have, for the past forty years, been involved in a sort of diplomatic dance, this remark, and the statement as a whole, marks a shot across the bow. Card. Müller then stated: