Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The following is an analysis by
 the Author
Ann Carey

Ann Carey is the author of Sisters in Crisis: Revisited—From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal (Ignatius Press, 2013). What I highlight in red is the stupid stuff of this so-called leadership group that has presided over the decline and fall of religious life in the USA and influenced others around the globe. Maybe they should be arrested for the genocide of religious life or at least its recipient? 
August 18, 2014
Sister Nancy Schreck’s keynote address to the LCWR 2014 annual assembly was equally confused and defiant.
Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, who is president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, receives a blessing before her Aug. 12 address at the annual LCWR assembly held in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 12. (CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register)
“We have been so changed that we are no longer at home in the culture and church in which we find ourselves.”
This quotation from the keynote address (PDF) of Franciscan Sister Nancy Schreck to the August 12-15 annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is startling, considering that it comes from a vowed member of a religious order who is speaking for other sisters. While Catholics should not feel at home in this modern culture, not feeling at home in the Catholic Church is indeed another matter. 

Yet that quotation and many of the other statements in Sister Schreck’s keynote do help explain why the LCWR has resisted the reform that was ordered two-and-a-half years ago by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and reaffirmed in April 2013 by Pope Francis. 

The 2014 LCWR assembly was particularly significant, because the group chose to bestow its annual Outstanding Leadership Award on Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson, whose book, Quest for the Living God was cited for doctrinal errors by the US bishops in 2011. And when LCWR leaders made their annual visit to the Vatican this past April, CDF Prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller told them the decision to honor Sister Johnson was “a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the ‘Doctrinal Assessment’” that “further alienates the LCWR from the [United States] bishops as well.” 

Cardinal Müller reminded the LCWR leaders that the 2012 mandate included a requirement for the LCWR to clear speakers and honorees with the apostolic delegate charged with implementing the reform, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. The CDF prefect made clear that requirement must be followed subsequent to the August assembly. So LCWR members had some big decisions to make behind the closed doors of their executive sessions last week, and clues about what was discussed were found only in the public talks given at the assembly.   
Rather than indicating any conciliation with the Holy See and the US bishops, the assembly keynote address by Sister Schreck, who was LCWR president in 1995, tried to explain why the LCWR was justified in taking the road it followed, implying that the Holy See had misjudged and misunderstood the LCWR.

Unfortunately, her reasoning was convoluted, confused, and unfounded in many respects, and she indicated that maintaining close ties to the Church was somehow incompatible with service to the poor and marginalized, the only ministry that she seems to believe is worthy of attention by today’s sisters.
Sister Schreck began by taking selected quotations from Perfectae Caritatis, the Vatican II document on the proper renewal of religious life. She summed up by saying that the document focused on four areas: the call to follow Christ; the return to the original spirit of religious institutes; adapting to changed conditions of our time; and promoting among members adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times and the needs of the Church. 

The sisters have faithfully implemented that document, Sister Schreck contended. “We have become more faithful not less, more clear about who we are, not less, and more free to give expression to our call, not less,” she said. 

Sister Schreck neglected to mention some other crucial elements in that council document, including the close relationship to the Church that is to be maintained by religious: “All institutes should share in the life of the Church, adapting as their own and implementing in accordance with their own characteristics the Church’s undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary, and social” (PC 2c). And: “Since the Church has accepted their surrender of self they should realize they are also dedicated to its service” (PC 5). 

Yet Sister Schreck indicated that implementing Perfectae Caritatis meant leaving long-established Catholic institutions and “habits, and convents, and schedules,” in order to minister to “margin dwellers.” She seems to have overlooked the directive of Perfectae Caritatis that “religious communities should continue to maintain and fulfill the ministries proper to them” (PC 20) while looking for new applications of those ministries in a changing world. 

Sister Schreck also invoked Vita Consecrata, the 1996 apostolic exhortation on consecrated life by Pope John Paul II, quoting his call for “exploration of new ways to apply the Gospel.” She did not, however, mention a central theme of Vita Consecrata—that “the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission.” 

She also failed to mention that the Code of Canon Law—which was updated in 1983 to reflect the teachings of Vatican II—describes religious institutes as being “dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the entire Church” and “subject to the supreme authority of this same Church in a special manner. Individual members are also bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest superior by reason of the sacred bond of obedience.” 

Instead of reflecting this classic understanding of religious life, Sister Schreck spoke with disdain for the “institutional church” and “royal theological positions,” seeming to prefer instead the “underside” of theology: 

We came to know Jesus from the underside of theology, in the inner cities and homeless shelters, from immigrants and prisoners, with a view from prostitutes and from the children of slaves, from the scarred places on the earth, the places of environmental racism. We are continuing to explore who Jesus is and the meaning of the incarnation in the new cosmology. 

She claimed that “the authority of those who suffer has a special claim on the obedience of religious congregations,” as if fidelity to the Church is somehow incompatible with helping the suffering. She also seems to have forgotten that thousands of sisters who went before her ministered to the suffering precisely because they were motivated by the teachings of the Church. 

Sister Schreck spoke also of sisters putting away the former concepts of religious institutions in order to journey into “Holy Mystery Time”—reflecting the theme of the LCWR 2014 assembly—and becoming “exiles.” “We will sell our souls if we stay in the place of wanting be part of the mainstream, thus becoming something other than we were intended to be,” she said. 

The keynoter also claimed that LCWR sisters have a “clarity of identity and purpose which we cannot expect those who have not taken the journey and done the work ever to be able to understand.” Conversely, she spoke of sisters being in a “middle space,” a state of “both creativity and disorientation” in which “much of what was is gone, and what is coming is not yet clear.”
This does not sound like clarity of identity and purpose. Sister Schreck said in the “middle space” in which she locates religious life, “all of our theological categories are re-defined: concepts like love, divine presence, incarnation, and world view are reshaped.” 

Yet, in spite of this confusion and lack of clarity, the sisters are determined to “use what we know from this mysterious middle place as wisdom for other organizations and institutions not because we are right but because we are faithful to the work of the middle space.” 

It is as if Sister Schreck is claiming that in all the chaos and confusion sisters have experienced since they put their own interpretation on Vatican II renewal and completely changed the concept of vowed religious life, they have discovered rich truths unknown to anyone else in the previous 20 centuries of Christianity. “Many keepers of the great religious traditions now seem frightened by what we have come to know, they seem to find it difficult to converse with the complexities and hungers of our vision,” she claimed. 

If Sister Schreck’s keynote address is any indication of what LCWR leaders are thinking, it explains why Cardinal Müller expressed concern in April about their ability to “sentire cum Ecclesia” (think with the Church and embrace its teachings). 

That is the whole point of the CDF’s mandate of reform: it is an invitation to the LCWR to return home to the Catholic Church and once again feel comfortable in her warm embrace. What will be the sisters’ RSVP? 
If only this doctored picture had placed the good sisters in traditional habits too, but what sister has in her hands is a beginning!


Gene said...

The "poor," the unproductive, the criminal elements, sociopaths and various character disorders in this country have long been worshipped by liberal Catholic (and protestant) groups instead of God. This is why we have the events going on in Ferguson right now.

Anonymous said...

The photo you chose for this post says it all. I will try to refrain from saying anything too inflammatory about it except it reflects something that is gravely disordered.

Anonymous said...

And this has been going on for over 50 years. Countless Catholics have lost the Faith because of those women. And let's be honest it will only get worse and NOTHING will be done. Why is the shepherd not protecting the sheep from these wolves? Why?

YET the Franciscans of the Immaculate are being crushed with the iron fist of Francis. Why?

Yet the SSPX, who believe and teach EVERYTHING. The Church has always taught and believed are the heretics who have no standing in the Church but those women do. Don't tell me something isn't terribly wrong and evil isn't involved.

Gene said...

A media pundit once said that, "the women's liberation movement exists so that ugly women can get attention." This is consistently borne out by every photograph I have seen of such groups.

Rood Screen said...

According to Schreck, the modern religious Institutes and Societies do not like what they did in the past, and do not know what they will do in the future, but live confidently in the present as they study and meditate upon, and work to alleviate, suffering.

I work with inmates at the county jail, offer mass and bless homes in the trailer parks and apartments complexes of Hispanic migrants, visit the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes, visit the home-bound, etc., but I do all of this as a continuation of past Catholic pastoral practice which must be carried on into the future.

I want to understand the LCWR-affiliated Sisters, but I just can't seem to do their math. Why can't they serve the needy and still live in common, pray in common, and share the beliefs described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Anonymous said...

What nobody is saying about these nuns is that they did everything to themselves. No man oppressed them. They always made up their own rules and regulations which they imposed on themselves.

Years ago when they wore floor length habits made of picky wool and wrapped their heads in starched linen and had all theses"rules" ..........they themselves made up those rules, they choose to dress the way they did. The Church never mandated that they had to do the sometimes nutty things they use to,do. For instance the habit. Just like today the Church MANDATES that religious are to wear the habit of their order. And just like today the Church never said they had to wear layers of think wool anymore than the Church said they can wear pants, makeup and jewelry. THEY did everything to themselves. No man put them in this old uncomfortable habits. The truth is they competed amongst themselves in who could outdo the others.

Anonymous said...

Gene...just a reminder that the unproductive poor of which you disparagingly speak are the folks who plant, tend, harvest and cook much of the food you eat. They also clean up after you, do the dishes, clean the places you work, the hotels where you stay, the church you attend. They are the clerks in the stores where you shop, they make the clothes you wear.....the computer you're using now...

Since you are a reformed protestant and, I'm sure, a Bible expert, you will certainly know about Matthew 25:40

Rood Screen said...


In his own special way, I think Genre refers to those troublesome persons who do not work honestly for a living, preferring instead to live off grants and stolen goods. Surely he does not disparage the hard-working poor who do the things you describe.

Gene said...

No, Anonymous, you are describing the productive poor. The unproductive poor are the ones in the streets out in Ferguson and all the gangbangers in Chicago, Atlanta, Macon, etc. Most of them are neither hungry, naked, sick, or in jail (where they should be) because they have looted and stolen all the clothes, food, wide screen TV's, Nike shoes, liquor, tobacco, and guns they can. Get it right.

Anonymous said...

Nice try Gene and JBS, but Gene clearly had the "poor" lumped in with all the other unworthy people he listed.

Gene said...

Anonymous, you are reading things in. Where do you see that I lumped the productive poor with the others? There are the hard-working poor, and there are the mythic "poor" that liberals use to further their Left wing agenda, anti-capitalist, anti-American agenda, with which I am sure you are familiar.

Gene said...

And, speaking of the unproductive poor out in Ferguson…I see where the Salt Lake City cops shot and killed an unarmed white guy today. Gee, when do all the white people start looting, burning, and rioting…2…3…4...

Gene said...

PS The Salt Lake City cop who shot the white kid was a black cop. Yep, those white people will probably start to riot any minute...

Anonymous said...

Can we stick to the subject? While the Ferguson anarchy is a tempting topic, this post was about Sister Rocky and her likeminded sisterhood which is headed for extinction.

Anonymous said...

It is so clear, Eugene. Here are your beliefs about some things...
White people are better than non-white people. Men are better than women. Christians are better than non-Christians. Catholics are better than non-Catholics. Americans are better than foreigners. Rich people are better than poor people. Tough guys are better than gentle guys. Heterosexuals are better than homosexuals. Conservatives are better than liberals.

I'll probably think of more. I'll add them later.

Peace be with you.'s one, armed people are better than unarmed people. BTW, did you hear about the grandmother who shot her 7 year old grandson last night? 1:30 AM...thought he was a burglar...had a pistol on her bedside table...shot him through the bedroom door. Lock and load...

Gene said...

Let's see, Anonymous. Let me check these off one by one:

1. White people are better than non-white…no…but Western civilization and the Judaeo-Christian tradition are superior.

2. Men are better than women…no, probably the opposite.

3. Christians are better than non-Christians…definitely.

4. Catholics are better than non-Catholics…yes.

5. Americans are better than foreigners…yes…I do like Brits.

6. Rich people are better than poor people…no, only generally harder working.

7. Tough guys are better than gentle guys…no…each needs to also be the other.

8. Heterosexuals are better than homosexuals…absolutely.

9. Conservatives are better than liberals…of course.

10. Armed people are better than unarmed people…no, only smarter.

Oh, there are always anecdotal incidents of tragedies with guns. It is statistically unavoidable and a necessary risk in a free society. Now, go on back to watching CNN and eating your liberal pudding.

Rood Screen said...


One more: names are better than "anonymous".

Peace, out.

Rood Screen said...

I've visited nuns jailed for civil disobedience. I respect and admire their willingness to endure great hardships for their adopted causes, such as peace and justice. My fear is that in discovering the power of protest, they have lost faith in the teachings of the Church, and lost hope for the Second Advent of Christ. Militant charity has its place in a world of violence and oppression, but charity without faith and hope, as these are understood by, and granted through, the Catholic Church, becomes fatally problematic for the soul.

Anonymous said...

Names are better than "JBS".

Gene said...

Hey JBS, Let's designate him "a nonie mouse." That has a nice ring to it. He spends a lot of time scurrying around in the dark, nibbling at an idea here and there, and dropping little mouse turds all around.
Hey, maybe he should be a "D Con" in his church…LOL!

JusadBellum said...

My beef with these sisters is that their "ministry" doesn't actually lead people to Catholicism, to Jesus in the Eucharist, to Jesus in confession. To the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. 40+ years working with the urban poor and still no increase in vocations, increase in conversions. If you love someone don't you want to share what's most important with them? Apparently what's most important to these women is not Jesus but material rations and political agitation.

Speaking of politics, how many foreign wars have these "peace and justice" folk actually stopped? They got their wish in Vietnam and still have yet to pay for the 1 million Vietnamese civilians who died as a direct consequence of their political agitation and the 3 million Cambodians who likewise died.

They got their wish in Iraq - we pulled out entirely and now look at the mess!

How does one get what one desires politically and not bear any moral responsibility for the negative results? If Bush is to be condemned for 100,000 Iraqi babies "killed" by sanctions or bombs, how are they not guilty for similar numbers slaughtered by Isis?

Justice is what they claim to be about....but what everyone needs is mercy. Seek to promote Mercy and you may find Justice. Seek "justice" and you'll only reap war.

Gene said...

Jusadbellum, you are right on! Thanks.