LCWR responds to CDF

Via Father James Martin, SJ, the unsurprising—yet still disappointing—response of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s doctrinal assesment. It says essentially what we would have expected, but notice what it does not say. The situation could simply and forthrightly be resolved if LCWR would say: “This is all a big misunderstanding. We are not in dissent on the Magisterium; we are not in dissent on Humanæ vitæ; we are not in dissent on Ordinatio sacerdotalis; we are not in dissent on Lumen gentium. We believe and profess everything that Holy Mother Church teaches, proclaims, and believes.” Instead we get posturing and pettifogging. Why? It would seem that the CDF has judged the situation correctly, and that LCWR knows it. We all know it, in fact; one must wonder who is served by this meaningless kabuki dance wherein we all pretend that we don’t know what is really at issue. I appreciate that sometimes love demands tact, but sometimes it demands bluntness. Grasp the nettle and speak plainly!

As Fr. Martin has previously said, we should give the sisters the benefit of the doubt, and we should give the Holy See the benefit of the doubt too. We should support the sisters; they have done and continue to do great works. And supporting them means supporting the Vatican and Bishop Sartain; I don’t see how there can be tension between those things because I don’t see how there can be any legitimate divergence of interest. The Vatican wants the sisters to be Catholic; the sisters would, surely, make no claim to an interest in being anything other than Catholic. The two are, or ought to be, in sync. I stand with the cause of Catholic women religious—which means standing with the Holy See. Be wary of those who try to open up a gap between the two.

Lastly, one can’t help but admire LCWR’s chutzpah in accusing the CDF of creating scandal. LCWR’s meandering path away from the Church has created and now protracted this situation, and they accuse the Holy Office of causing scandal? The CDF’s job is to shine a floodlight on those who are at odds with the Church’s teaching; when someone opens up a public gap between themselves and the Magisterium, as LCWR has done, they are endangering themselves and causing scandal (i.e. being a stumbling block to the faith of others, as Fr. M noted). In that situation, it is precisely the Petrine mission to call that person back to the faith (Lk 22:32).

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