This is a bit of a BOMBSHELL from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and just released to the public although dated April 30th. It is clear that the LCWR who have singlehandedly deconstructed religious life and replaced it with what is soon to be categorized with the fate of the Dodo bird, just doesn't get it and simply has misread Pope Francis and his desire to reform the Church his way, not theirs!
This is good news indeed! It is a smack down of the LCWR's arrogant, , non-collaborative and non-ecclesiastical and heretical spirit. Yes heresy is charged and a demand for reform and moving away from heresy!
BOTTOM LINE: DONE MESS WITH POPE FRANCIS AND HIS CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH!
Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
April 30, 2014
By Cardinal Gerhard Müller
By Cardinal Gerhard Müller
I am happy to welcome once again the Presidency of the LCWR to Rome and to the Congregation. It is a happy occasion that your visit coincides with the Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, two great figures important for the Church in our times. I am grateful as well for the presence and participation of the Delegate for the implementation of the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment, Archbishop Peter Sartain.
As in past meetings, I would like to begin by making some introductory observations which I believe will be a helpful way of framing our discussion.
First, I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the progress that has been made in the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment. Archbishop Sartain has kept the Congregation appraised on the work regarding the revision of the LCWR Statutes and civil by-laws. We are glad to see that work continue and remain particularly interested that these foundational documents reflect more explicitly the mission of a Conference of Major Superiors as something centered on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Church’s teaching about Consecrated Life. For that collaboration, I thank you.
Two further introductory comments I would like to frame around what could be called objections to the Doctrinal Assessment raised by your predecessors during past meetings here at the Congregation and in public statements by LCWR officers. We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.” This principal objection, I note, was repeated most recently in the preface of the collection of LCWR Presidential Addresses you have just published. It is my intention in discussing these things frankly and openly with you to offer an explanation of why it is that we believe the conclusions of the Doctrinal Assessment are accurate and the path of reform it lays before the LCWR remains necessary so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.
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.
An example may help at this point. It saddens me to learn that you have decided to give the Outstanding Leadership Award during this year’s Assembly to a theologian criticized by the Bishops of the United States because of the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings. This 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.
I realize I am speaking rather bluntly about this, but I do so out of an awareness that there is no other interpretive lens, within and outside the Church, through which the decision to confer this honor will be viewed. It is my understanding that Archbishop Sartain was informed of the selection of the honoree only after the decision had been made. Had he been involved in the conversation as the Mandate envisions, I am confident that he would have added an important element to the discernment which then may have gone in a different direction. The decision taken by the LCWR during the ongoing implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment is indeed regrettable and demonstrates clearly the necessity of the Mandate’s provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. I must therefore inform you that this provision is to be considered fully in force. I do understand that the selection of honorees results from a process, but this case suggests that the process is itself in need of reexamination. I also understand that plans for this year’s Assembly are already at a very advanced stage and I do not see the need to interrupt them. However, following the August Assembly, it will be the expectation of the Holy See that Archbishop Sartain have an active role in the discussion about invited speakers and honorees.
Let me address a second objection, namely that the findings of the Doctrinal Assessment are unsubstantiated. The phrase in the Doctrinal Assessment most often cited as overreaching or unsubstantiated is when it talks about religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus. Yes, this is hard language and I can imagine it sounded harsh in the ears of thousands of faithful religious. I regret that, because the last thing in the world the Congregation would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.
For the last several years, the Congregation has been following with increasing concern a focalizing of attention within the LCWR around the concept of Conscious Evolution. Since Barbara Marx Hubbard addressed the Assembly on this topic two years ago, every issue of your newsletter has discussed Conscious Evolution in some way. Issues of Occasional Papers have been devoted to it. We have even seen some religious Institutes modify their directional statements to incorporate concepts and undeveloped terms from Conscious Evolution.
Again, I apologize if this seems blunt, but what I must say is too important to dress up in flowery language. The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.
My concern is whether such an intense focus on new ideas such as Conscious Evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia. To phrase it as a question, do the many religious listening to addresses on this topic or reading expositions of it even hear the divergences from the Christian faith present?
This concern is even deeper than the Doctrinal Assessment’s criticism of the LCWR for not providing a counter-point during presentations and Assemblies when speakers diverge from Church teaching. The Assessment is concerned with positive errors of doctrine seen in the light of the LCWR’s responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life. I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.
I do not think I overstate the point when I say that the futuristic ideas advanced by the proponents of Conscious Evolution are not actually new. The Gnostic tradition is filled with similar affirmations and we have seen again and again in the history of the Church the tragic results of partaking of this bitter fruit. Conscious Evolution does not offer anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world. It does not present the treasure beyond price for which new generations of young women will leave all to follow Christ. The Gospel does! Selfless service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does!
It is in this context that we can understand Pope Francis’ remarks to the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in May of 2013. What the Holy Father proposes is a vision of religious life and particularly of the role of conferences of major superiors which in many ways is a positive articulation of issues which come across as concerns in the Doctrinal Assessment. I urge you to reread the Holy Father’s remarks and to make them a point of discussion with members of your Board as well.
I have raised several points in these remarks, so I will stop here. I owe an incalculable debt to the women religious who have long been a part of my life. They were the ones who instilled in me a love for the Lord and for the Church and encouraged me to follow the vocation to which the Lord was calling me. The things I have said today are therefore born of great love. The Holy See and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith deeply desire religious life to thrive and that the LCWR will be an effective instrument supporting its growth. In the end, the point is this: the Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church. The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.
Is the Vatican trying to say that the LCRW should have a mission that is consistent with Catholicism? Wouldn't that be misogynistic, homophobic? How dare the Vatican try to impose its view on an institution it created!
Are you kidding me? That ANYONE can see the view this struggle as some patriarchal power struggle initiated by power hungry men, attacking poor little self sacrificing women is only an indication of their own delusional agenda! The only scandal here is that the Vatican has been so slow to dismantle this heretical leadership and allowed them to such a long leash on their way to strangling the true faith!
Enough is enough! This leadership group, which does NOT represent the true faith of the vast number of religious women, is nothing but heretical, self serving, and needs to be stripped of their positions NOW! And their leadership roles given to those who least want the position. Those good religious women who seek the Kingdom of God first!
I have now researched a bit about Conscious Evolution. The President and one of the founders of the movement is Barbara Marx Hubbard. One has to wonder if the name is more than coincidence (I am not referring to Barbara).
Seriously (or was I just being serious?), these sorts of ideas can be fun. But one has to remain grounded in the Gospel and retain one’s powers of critical thinking. With the grace of God, they then tend to dissolve and reveal themselves for what they are.
By the way, Wikipedia describes the lady as “a Jewish agnostic.”
One of the pictures on LCWR website is a sister walking on a labyrinth.
Are labyrinth's okay? That seems so New Agey/Pagan.
Thank you, Father, for posting this! I am happy to see that the Vatican knows what is going on, and that something will be done about it.
I don't say that out of a sense of mean-spiritedness, but out of mercy. The problem of relying on the biological solution is that it assumes that the souls of these women are beyond hope. Correction and the opportunity for forgiveness is the better option; if they persist in their sins afterwards, at least they can't blame the Church for not trying on Judgment Day.
I pray that the Holy Spirit open the eyes of these women so that they can see the spiritual snare that they have become entrapped in; and for strength for their guardian angels, that they may guide their charges toward repentance and Christ's Mercy.
And yet year after year the LCWR continues along the path of heresy. And year after year we have polite meetings in Rome and nothing changes. Yet the Franciscans of the Immaculate are being actively destroyed. In the end Francis will have obliviated the Franciscans of the Immaculte and he will have a meeting with the LCWR And tell them how necessary they are and to continue. And the destruction continues.
And the point of this post is what Father? I believe Pope Francis told a group of habit less, dissenting nuns to ignore any letter they got from the CDF and just continue their work.
These hoydens are not going to be quiet. They are going to gin up as much public support as possible, push the limits, continue to spout heresy, and continue to be as obnoxious, loud, and contrary as possible. The entire organization should be abolished and declared anathema. They can all go build houses for havacrapforhumanity.
Perhaps the member communities should transition from religious orders/societies to lay "associations of the faithful". This would relieve them of the obligations of common life, common prayer and common apostolate. However, whatever their canonical status, I don't see any likelihood that the Church can bring them back from the brink of heresy.
It does seem that the CDF is working hard to bring the LCWR make into some common sense and thinking with the Church and renouncing heresy.
The problem is that the leaders of this organization don't for the most part represent the rank and file religious whose communities belong to the LCWR.
Why in the name of God and all that is holy these religious orders that are well balanced and orthodox still belong to the LCWR or don't give an ultimatum to the LCWR leadership that has hijacked this organization is beyond me.
There is the more conservative branch and I would hope that it would become the one and only Vatican Approved organization.
Talk is cheap, especially when couched in phrases that leave wiggle room, such as "it is the expectation of" and other "shoulds" instead of "musts." If one preaches orthodxy while tolerating heresy, not much changes for the better. Gene is right.
I'm surprised to read you say that, "the leaders of this organization don't for the most part represent the rank and file religious whose communities belong to the LCWR". The sincerity of the members is clear enough, but I have very rarely encountered a member of one of the LCWR communities who did not share the general views of the leadership. At any rate, such persons are surely very much in the minority. The religious communities in the USA have already made their choice between the two umbrella groups, and I think it's unrealistic to expect an migrations. But I would love to be proven wrong about this.
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