Monday, April 23, 2012


The Sisters of Saint Joseph as they looked in the early 1960's when they taught me and in the most orthodox of ways!
Nashville Dominicans today (note how young they are!)
These women religious were the backbone of the Catholic School system, hospitals and outreach to the poor in the 1950's and 60's and continue to serve the Church in their retirement, but because their orders redefined religious life to the extreme, they could not recruit younger members and thus their legacy is coming to a sad conclusion not because of them but because of their order's renewal that went wrong:
MY COMMENTS FIRST:As you know, Pope Benedict and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, CDF, have been trying to do two distinct things lately that are interrelated, but in different ways.

For the last few years there has been a study of women's religious orders and leadership organizations similar to Vatican studies of men's orders in the past as well as two investigations of seminaries. This study has led the Vatican to question some of the positions of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LCWR, as it is an umbrella organization of the leadership of the majority of women religious orders in America. To say the least, amongst the elitists leaders, there is a heterodox ideology that pervades its view of Catholicism built upon dissent from Church teachings both those defined and those that are part of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church. It is a paradox that women religious who take vows of obedience which means assent to Church teachings in the areas of faith and morals would make dissent a centerpiece of their thrust. It is irony to the extreme.

At the same time the ultra-traditionalist SSPX has been investigated for years and may be on the verge of some kind of reconciliation with the Vatican. This group does not accept some of Vatican II (not all) especially as it regards ecclesiolgy, religious liberty, ecumenism and inter-religious relationships. In this case they might be more in line with the once excommunicated Father Feeney of Boston of the 1950's. But in terms of the basic dogmas and doctrines held by Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxy, they are traditional and assent to the traditional faith and morals of the Catholic Church which would include the East, uniates and Orthodox.

The LCWR's leadership and thrust, is so far from traditional Catholicism as it is understood by Vatican II to make them post-Christian in much of the areas of concern that the Vatican has highlighted. You can read for yourself what alarms the Vatican and should alarm any Catholic of goodwill. This is far different than the SSPX issues that are radical to the right but do not pose a threat to the Church's faith and morals as the left's dissent does.

The following speaks for itself and shows why the Vatican has to act and is acting and we can thank God for that.

The Spirit of Vatican II:
A History of Catholic Reform in America
Colleen McDannell
Basic Books , 2011

What inspired you to write The Spirit of Vatican II? What sparked your interest?

Several years ago, the Catholic church my parents go to in Florida decided to renovate their sanctuary. What had once been a spare, modernist space was transformed into a traditional one with the addition of a large crucifix, statues of the saints, and Stations of the Cross. It seemed to me that I was witnessing the disappearance of “Vatican II Catholicism” even before scholars had clarified what it was that was disappearing.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

In spite of efforts to downplay the significance of the Second Vatican Council, for many American Catholics it provided the theological justifications to demand sophisticated religious education, to engage ritually in the sacraments, to be accepting of non-Catholics, and to uphold cultural pluralism. It gave Catholics permission to publicly and constructively express disagreement and dissent, and most importantly, it created an atmosphere of spiritual and social flexibility essential to meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. The reception of the reforms was quite uneven across the country, and so we need to be careful in describing what actually occurred.

Father Z at "What Does the Prayer Really Say" has a trip down memory lane highlighting Catholic sisters in the post-Christian liberal wing of the leadership of some sisters (not all, keep in mind!) and their dribble:

Sisters Gone Wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Theresa Kane: as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 1979, she greeted Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. In her address she urged him to open all ministries of Church life to women. Her remarks made headlines around the world. Shortly after her address, she stated that “as a result of the greeting, a few congregations withdrew from the conference. Through that experience LCWR became more public; the membership gained new responsibilities.” Today she supports women in deciding to undergo fake ordinations of women in the Catholic Church as if they were real. “The Roman Catholic women priesthood is small, highly criticized, and not going away,” she went on. “No one controls our future but ourselves.”

Agnes Mary Mansour, now deceased, was a Catholic nun who in 1983 left her religious order so she could retain her position as the director of the Michigan Department of Social Services. The controversy involved her refusal to make a public statement against abortion. She thought that as long as abortion was legal and available to the wealthy, the procedure should be equally available to women who needed government assistance.

24 Nuns who signed A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion, alternatively referred to by its pull quote “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics” or simply “The New York Times ad”, a full-page advertisement placed on 7 October 1984 in The New York Times by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC): “Statements of recent Popes and of the Catholic hierarchy have condemned the direct termination of pre-natal life as morally wrong in all instances. There is a mistaken belief in American society that this is the only legitimate Catholic position.” Many signers put their names on the ad because they viewed it as a partial response to the highly publicized anti-abortion statements of Archbishop John J. Card. O’Connor of New York. His insistence that a Catholic could not in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate was clearly aimed at Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, a Catholic, a member of O’Connor’s archdiocese, and a consistent pro-choice advocate.

Kathryn Bissell
Mary Byles
Anne Carr
Mary Louise Denny
Margaret Farley
Barbara Ferraro
Maureen Fiedler
Jeanine Grammick
Kathleen Hebbeler
Patricia Hussey
Caridad Inda
Pat Kenoyer
Agnes Mary Mansour (at the time an ex-nun)
Roseanne Mazzeo
Margaret Nulty
Margaret O’Neill
Donna Quinn
Ellen Shanahan
Marilyn Thie
Rose Dominic Trapasso
Margaret Ellen Traxler
Marjorie Tuite
Judith Vaughan
Ann Patrick Ware
Virginia Williams

Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey: in 1984, along with 22 other nuns, they co-signed an ad in The New York Times by Catholics for Free Choice challenging Catholic teaching on procured abortion. Both refused to recant their statements when ordered to do so by the Holy See and their religious order. They both signed a second pro-abortion statement, published in the National Catholic Reporter, and participated in a pro-abortion rally organized by the National Organization of Women (NOW) in Washington on 6 March 1986.

Margaret Traxler: now deceased, was a supporter of activism among homosexual Catholics, who once carried a banner into the Vatican to protest the church’s stand on abortion. In 1982 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed a Constitutional amendment proposed by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. It would have allowed state legislatures to restrict or ban abortions. In an appearance on the Phil Donahue show at that time, Traxler said, “I believe every human being has a free will, God respects our free will even though it is sometimes used against God’s will. I believe women must have the right to use their free will in making decisions about their own bodies.” She signed the New York Times ad in 1984 stating that abortion could sometimes be “a moral choice.” “I don’t think church leaders are living on the same planet. They are unrealistic and out of touch with the people,”. . . she said then. She was one of the first to call for women’s ordination in 1971.

Jeanine Gramick: co-foundress of the homosexual, lesbian activist organization New Ways Ministry. After a review of her public activities on behalf of the Church that concluded in a finding of grave doctrinal error, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) declared in 1999 that she should no longer be engaged in pastoral work with homosexual persons. In 2000, her congregation, in an attempt to thwart further conflict with the Vatican, commanded her not to speak publicly about homosexuality. She responded by saying, “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” In 2001, Gramick transferred to the Sisters of Loretto, another congregation of Catholic Sisters, one which supports her in her advocacy on behalf of homosexuals.

Marjorie Tuite: now deceased, was among the key organizers of the first International Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC). Tuite was also one of the “Vatican 24”, religious sisters who had signed the Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion published in the New York Times on 7 October 1984. Tuite appeared on The Phil Donahue Show on 28 January 1985 (along with fellow signers Patricia Hussey and Barbara Ferraro) to defend their refusal to recant their support of that statement.

Margaret Farley: over the years, she has taken positions favorable to abortion, same-sex “marriage,” sterilization of women, divorce and the “ordination” of women to the priesthood. Farley, who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, is well known for her radical feminist ideas and open dissent from Church teaching. In 1982, when the Sisters of Mercy sent a letter to all their hospitals recommending that tubal ligations be performed in violation of Church teaching against sterilization, Pope John Paul II gave the Sisters an ultimatum, causing them to withdraw their letter. Farley justified their “capitulation” on the ground that “material cooperation in evil for the sake of a ‘proportionate good’” was morally permissible. In other words, she declared that obedience to the Pope was tantamount to cooperation in evil, and that the Sisters were justified in doing it only because their obedience prevented “greater harm, namely the loss of the institutions that expressed the Mercy ministry.” In her presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2000 she attacked the Vatican for its “overwhelming preoccupation” with abortion, calling its defense of babies “scandalous” and asking for an end to its “opposition to abortion” until the “credibility gap regarding women and the church” has been closed. In her book Just Love she offers a full-throated defense of homosexual relationships, including a defense of their right to marry. She admits that the Church “officially” endorses the morality of “the past,” but rejoices that moral theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McCormick embrace “pluralism” on the issues of premarital sex and homosexual acts. She says that sex and gender are “unstable, debatable categories,” which feminists like her see as “socially constructed.” She has nothing but disdain for traditional morality, as when she remarks that we already know the “dangers” and “ineffectiveness of moralism” and of “narrowly construed moral systems.”

Mary Ann Cunningham: wrote an “open letter to Catholic voters” in 2006 as an alternative to the church hierarchy’s voter education efforts in Colorado and nationwide. “We encourage respect for the moral adulthood of women and will choose legislators who will recognize the right of women to make reproductive decisions and receive medical treatment according to the rights of privacy and conscience.” Cunningham said many Catholics disagree with the church’s opposition to legalized abortion for “compassionate, faithful reasons.” “I do value the voice of the church hierarchy,” Cunningham said. “But I don’t find anything in the Gospels about abortion or gay marriage.”

Louise Lears: banned from church ministries and from receiving the sacraments in 2008 by then-St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke for 1) the obstinate rejection, after written admonition, of the truth of the faith that it is impossible for a woman to receive ordination to the Sacred Priesthood (cann.750, §2; and 1371, 1ยบ); 2) the public incitement of the faithful to animosity or hatred toward the Apostolic See or an Ordinary because of an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry (can. 1373); 3) the grave external violation of Divine or Canon Law, with the urgent need to prevent and repair the scandal involved (can. 1399); and 4) prohibited participation in sacred rites (can. 1365).

Donna Quinn an advocate for legalized abortion. As late as 2009 she was engaged in escorting women to abortion clinics in the Chicago area so they could abort their babies safe from pro-life protesters. She is now a coordinator of the radically liberal National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), which stands in opposition against the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and the exclusively male priesthood. In a 2002 address to the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as “immoral”: “I used to say: ‘This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,’” she said. “Then later I said, ‘This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I’d better work to change it.’ More recently, I am saying, ‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.”

Margaret Mary McBride: an administrator and member of the ethics committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, in Phoenix, Arizona, who incurred automatic excommunication following her sanctioning of an abortion at the hospital in November 2009. The controversy that ensued resulted in the diocesan bishop declaring that the hospital could no longer call itself Catholic.


Joe Shlabtonick said...

I have a friend who is a Dominican nun in another part of the country. Her convent closed and she was sent to the mother house for retirement (she is in her late 70's). She is one of the rare members of her order who still wears a habit and she has not embraced the un-orthodox beliefs that many of her sisters have bought into. Consequently, her retired life has been a living hell. She is not the type to back down in matters of the faith and she has gone toe-to-toe with others at her mother house about various issues. At least one of the sisters there is a Wiccan.

Another order of nuns, an offshoot of the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught you (this branch taught me) has gone radically left. They operate a retreat center that offers Reiki and labyrinth walking. Another retreat center of theirs counsels the women visiting to "let God make love to you". And don't even get me started on the "lifestyle appearance" that they radiate, if you know what I mean.

If anyone takes the trouble to look at these orders, they will find that many of them have been operating in a manner diametrically opposed to the Church for years. Their apparent shock (real or feigned) that the Vatican has found them deficient is probably because they have gotten away with it for so long.

Gene said...

Why do we agree to dress up unbelief as "post-Christian?" Call it what it is...

William Meyer said...

Father, do not overlook the Dominican Sisters of Mary, in Ann Arbor, MI. They, too, are a growing and prospering community.

From what I have read, it seems that the orders who are still in habits are generally vibrant communities; those in street clothes appear to be moribund. Moreover, the latter are generally those who have challenged Rome, and even their own bishops.

Seems to me it's a very solid trend.

Templar said...

The restoration of Catholic Identity requies the restoration of Female Religious orders as much, if not more, than it requires restoration of it's Liturguical practices. The use of Lay Teachers for religious formation of our youth is too haphazard. There are some outstanding Lay Teachers to be sure, but on the whole they are not as adequate to the task as Nuns would be.

MHT Dissenter said...

Unfortunately in the Diocese of Savannah one can periodically find advertisements in bulletins about Reiki retreats sponsored by a certain Sister J.

We also have two labyrinths in Augusta (St. Mary's on-the-Hill: Active and St. Teresa's: Closed due to move to new parish location). An interesting story about the old St. Teresa's labyrinth. The campus was sold to Pineview Baptist Church. The Baptist pastor really scratched his head when he saw it and wondered what in the devil it was. I'd have to agree with him 100% that it couldn't be found in the Bible.