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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Carl Sommer

One is struck by how deeply dishonest Sr. Brink's address was. They have moved byeond Jesus and all ecclesiastical structures, except that they still fund-raise as Catholic sisters, and when the press interviews them on controversial issues, they still pretend their heresy is Catholic teaching. I hope the Vatican can come up with some means of informing the laity which religious congregations are fulfilling and authentic Catholic apostolate, and which are sailing under false colors.

Phil Garringer

Language of Heresy and schism?

NO, no, no!

In the US and Europe, you are only considered schismatic and a heretic if you want "traditional" Catholicism and the Tridentine Mass.

Nothing will happen to any of these heretics, because they are truly living in the spirit (though, granted, not the letter) of Vatican II. They will continue to be allowed to operate until they all die out in another generation or two.

The least the Vatican can do would be censor them, but I don't see anything in the past that leads me to think it will happen. I pray that I am wrong.

Ben Fischer

Is there any way to see which religious orders make up the LCWR and other organizations? I've looked online, but I can't find anything.


Cartoon on the LCWR:

Joseph Danielson

For years any intelligent and informed Catholic could tell that a large percentage of American women religious are no longer in any meaningful way committed to religious life or the Catholic faith. Sadly, the communities that have become profoundly corrupt in this way, have done so without the proactive pastoral intervention of the only ones in the Church who have the Lord's own pastoral authority to prevent this disaster: ORDAINED BISHOPS AND PRIESTS! As with all the problems that have developed in the Church since Vatican II, (bad teachings, bad practices, liturgical abuses, poor doctrinal formation,etc.) religious life for women has gone hell-bent for extinction by abandoning the simplicity of Gospel truth to embrace current fads that are nothing but smokescreens for the world,the flesh,and the devil. (Really, have you ever met a lay person or a non-Catholic who feels he now is more inspired by women religious because they relate better dressing like their wives and girl friends?)And no one along the way stepped in and simply said......."THIS IS WRONG." The apostolic visitation is going to be too little, too late, if the bishops and priests of the Church in the United States do not recognize what has happened and undertake their grave pastoral obligation to correct the errors of these communities.


Mr. Fischer,

I've wondered about their membership before, too. Like you I couldn't find a list, until 30 seconds ago:

Gentle but firm correction needed

What I would like to see emerge after all the dust has settled and the Visitation assessment has been reflected upon is a list of books, articles and organisations that show a departure from or confusion over Catholic Teaching and practice.
Next I"d love to see serious consideration to dispensing individuals and even closing down orders who refuse to give loyalty to the magisterium.Individual nuns within such orders who wanted to remain in communion with the Church could be given the choice of going to an order that has remained faithful.
The laity are left in the damaging power of rogue orders and individual religious who have abandoned trust in and practice of the Faith and turned to a neo pagan a la carte religion of their own fashioning. It is time these false shepherds were outed gently but firmly

Brian M

How did the LCWR come into being? Is it truly needed? Certainly the 800 orders whose heads are represented by it did not originate because of it, and yet now it seems to exert a profound influence on them. I always thought the heads of religous orders reported directly to the Pope. I can't help but think that an organization such as this must detract from an order's mission and focus.

And at what point did Jesus become relegated to a "narrative"?

Living in this madness

As a sister who is living in this madness, I can unfortunately attest that all that is written is true. My community and several others have not and most likely will not receive copies of the Instrument as instructed by Mother Clare.
Sure, they announce it in an email BUT few sisters are able to wade through the various connections to get to the instrument. Why should I be surprised? They were told to "make a copy available to each sister" would assume a hard copy...but alas...never assume with sisters whose leadership has been co-opted by LCWR.


About the Laurie Brink address - it is constantly misquoted.

Yes, she does name a situation that is going on, but she doesn't endorse it. Far from it. She is a Dominican and like Thomas, she very clearly and charitably describes the different positions. But her conclusion rejects "Sojourning" and advocates a self-sacrificing path modeled on Paul's call in Corinthians for Christians to be "ambassadors for reconciliation." (A reading, I might add, we listen to each year as we prepare for penance in Lent.)

It would be much more valuable to read her entire article.

I'm not saying she is wrong about what some women religioius have chosen - to describe themselves as 'post-Christian' and to absent themselves from the Eucharist. But it isn't her position and it certainly isn't the position of the LCWR.


It's the same dishonesty we see in mainline Protestantism and non-profit organizations: people pretend support and agreement in order to take positions of leadership then co-opt the org for their own ends. Dishonest indeed. Brink and those who think like her need to out themselves as the thoroughgoing pagans they are.

As someone entering the Catholic Church, it has bothered me for some time that the Church hasn't done more about this sort of thing, or bishops who shielded abusers, or unbelieving scholars like JD Crossan. But looking back over history, I know that the Catholic Church and faith will still be going strong long after these navel-gazing fifth columnists are dead and forgotten. So bring on the visitation. Only people with something to hide have something to fear. To me it's telling that these "religious women" are responding to it not as though receiving a visit from a beloved family member but more like stoners trying to dispel the marijuana smoke when the police come knocking.

David Charkowsky

"The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices."

He also stressed the need for rigid orthodoxy.

Carl E. Olson

Curmudgeon: I did read her entire article. You write, "Yes, she does name a situation that is going on, but she doesn't endorse it." Well, she certainly doesn't criticize it, either; in fact, she finds it to be as equally good as the other options:

In light of my own experience, conversations with myriad other religious and critical reflection on the signs of the times, 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 difficulty lies not in the directions themselves but in getting the congregation as a whole to discern together the best approach and to commit together to that end.

There is an obvious strain of relativism/indifferentism running through the talk:

As I began acknowledging my particular lens, I must now also admit that my four options are first, from my reading of the current status of communities and congregations; second, numbered at four only because of the limitations of my imagination and our time here, and finally, as the name applies, are only options. What you choose with your congregations is up to you, the Spirit and your charism. ... My hope as a relatively new member of Religious Life is that whatever direction our various congregations choose—Death with Dignity and Grace, Acquiescence, Sojourning or Reconciliation—that we go there with authenticity and integrity. And that we go there together. Such a task may move us toward the margins, but most assuredly it will deepen our holiness.

It's not clear how walking away from the Church and the Eucharist, denying Church authority, and renouncing the uniqueness of Christ will "most assuredly" deepen one's holiness. Meanwhile, the heterodoxy of the LCWR leadership has been well chronicled. Steichen, for example, writes:

The single most shocking book I read during my research for Ungodly Rage was not one about witchcraft or satanism. It was Claiming Our Truth, a volume of essays edited by Sister Nadine Foley, OP, prioress of a Dominican community in Adrian, Michigan, and a past president of LCWR. Published by LCWR, it consists of analyses of a 1986 CWR member survey. In answer to the question ‘‘Who is God?" the survey reported one response of ‘‘Trinitarian’’, two of ‘‘incarnate in Jesus’’, two of ‘‘Indwelling Spirit.’’ The overwhelming majority answered in one way or another that God is ‘‘the energy in the Universe.’’

Foley, it should be noted, is an ardent supporter of women's ordination, and was a key organizer of the first Conference on Women's Ordination, held in Detroit in 1976. And on and on and on it goes...


As Carl has pointed out, Curmudgeon has seriously misread Sr. Brink. According to her, the "sojourning" option (option 3) is no better or worse than the others, and there is no difficulty in recognising it as a "direction" for an institute of religious life to take.

Sr. Brink's critique of those who have actually taken that path includes this (buried in the extended quote given in the lead article):-

"They are courageous women among us. And very well may provide a glimpse into the new thing that God is bringing about in our midst. Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God?"

Who indeed!

Sr. Brink's own personal choice happens to be option 4 ("reconciliation"), but that does not contradict what she said about the four options all being valid - each in their own way - or the specific commendation she accords option 3.

Equally telling is the tone with which she discusses option 2 (and the prejudicial name she gives it: "acquiescing in the expectations of others"). This is the option of returning to more traditional practices, or, as Sr. Brink describes it later on, "religious communities who have chosen to acquiesce to the more recent urgings of the Church hierarchy to become more visible and 'faithful'."

If we want to see when, where, and how "the Church hierarchy" urged religious congregations to be "visible and faithful", the Decree "Perfectae caritatis" of the Second Vatican Council is a good place to start - especially at n.17 where the retention of the religious habit in some form is presumed.

As for the Apostolic visitation currently underway, it is fully congruent with the teaching of the Council. Consider, for example, this passage from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ("Lumen gentium", n.45):-

" . . it is for the hierarchy to make wise laws for the regulation of the practice of the [evangelical counsels professed by religious] . . [The hierarchy] uses its supervisory and protective authority too to ensure that religious institutes established all over the world for building up the Body of Christ may develop and flourish in accordance with the spirit of their founders".

Ben Fischer

Mr. Fischer,

I've wondered about their membership before, too. Like you I couldn't find a list, until 30 seconds ago:

Sigh, I was afraid of that. The old nuns who taught me in grade school and high school are on that list. About 5 years after I graduated, they quit wearing habits. There used to be over 40 of them in my school, but now the only thing "over 40" is the average age. Way over 40. There are less than 10 in the school and according to the parish directory they have zero postulates. When I look at their web page, they aren't worried about teaching kids, but their own retirement.

It's sad. I feared many of them and disliked some of them, but I respected all of them and my old parish is worse off without them.

Sister Zelda

Kind Sirs: Your concern about this visitation is evident. In your analysis, I hear that many apostolic religious women that you know personally do not meet your expectations. I want to remind you that these vowed women do not find their lives measured by your expectations but rather Gods expectations. In Luke 4:18 Jesus measures his own life and ours, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Anything that inhibits these glad tidings to the poor needs to be marginalized in the lives of today's apostolic religious. This investigation will reveal the authenticity of their lifestyle.

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