Just weeks after the visitation of American women religious congregations was announced, the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious (LCWR) learned that it would be the subject of a doctrinal assessment by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
The 44-year-old LCWR has 1,500 members who represent about 95 percent of U.S. women religious. It is a resource to the leaders of congregations and it also provides a collective voice on issues of justice.
The CDF met with LCWR's leaders nine years ago to inquire how they were receiving and promoting church teaching in three areas: ordination of women, interfaith relations, and homosexuality. According to the National Catholic Reporter, the CDF prefect, Cardinal William Levada, informed LCWR leaders of the need for the current assessment in a 2009 letter: "Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present."
Whoa! Now that's being crystal-clear. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with these women nine years ago to discuss, yes - problems. When the Vatican appears and says it has a problem with your doctrine, wouldn't you think it wise to listen and perhaps mend your ways? I'm not getting that impression, here. In fact, I get the impression that the women religious who advocate the ordination of women as priests and acceptance of an active homosexual lifestyle are fighting the Vatican on all fronts. Gosh, that's so like Jesus. Oh, wait...
I can only imagine what the "interfaith" issue is about. (Blending a little Wiccan with your morning devotions, Dorothy?)
The LCWR Website
For a real eye-opener, visit the LCWR site and poke around. Prominently featured on their home page is "Social Justice." Check into the issues that they support and you'll see a list that suspiciously looks like the same list of a leftist. The usual suspects are there: Support for government-run healthcare, the old "global warming" issues, activism against the war in Iraq and any military action against Iran, the legalization of illegal immigrants, etc., etc. But what really amazed me was a downloadable paper on "systems thinking." Egads.
If you want to download it and read it in its entirety, go for it. I couldn't bear reading the entire piece of drivel. Here's a snippet to give you an idea of their approach. I've emphasized certain words and phrases that to me, are "red flags.":
With its precision, Western thinking also succeeded in separating science from religion, science from ethics, and theology from spirituality. Philosophy, theology, and scientific, political, and social theory continued to develop and reinforce the rightness of this way of interpreting life’s meaning. Theologians, for example, tried to deal with the dismissal of theological knowledge as less provable and therefore less important than scientific knowledge by attempting to design theological study along the lines of scientific “proofs.” Little by little, dualistic and hierarchical distinctions grew from being descriptive of the physical world to being definitive not only of the physical world but of social relationships as well.
The ultimate result was a learned inability to think in any other than linear, dualistic, and hierarchical ways when dealing with problems, organizing ideas or work, and in structuring society, church, or our religious congregations.
This way of seeing reality thus became an unconscious filter for the Western mind, a filter that made it easy to judge immediately what fit or did not fit a particular situation, to distinguish and define what was good, true, and right from what was bad, false, and wrong. The world was stable and sure, a machine-like structure of predetermined and fixed relationships. The human mind could comprehend the universe in its entirety. (Oh, brother. Who has ever claimed to comprehend the universe?) People accepted this explanation of the order they could see in the physical universe and in the natural structures of family and community. They designed other organizations on the basis of this same “rightful order.”
Furthermore, people of faith saw in this “rightful order” the will of God. In this world, the sacred and the secular, the church and the state, science and religion, lived consciously at odds with each other. But it was this worldview unconsciously held in common which gave both the sacred and the secular spheres the rationale for their respective interpretations of life, and at the same time fostered their mutual sense of hostility. (!!)
Pretty amazing, no?
As for me, I've studied my share of philosophical writings while in college. As I read and half-skimmed parts of this document, I kept looking for Jesus. Where is Jesus in all of this? Where is His commandments and teachings that He gave us? Yes, we're to love one another and this loving is expressed in many different ways; such as feeding the poor and caring for the needy. But this "Opportunity to Act for Systemic Change" is to me no more than an attempt to cloak the desire to rebel against the Church and embrace what - chaos? Anarchy? As far as "systems" go, what is the alternative to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? A good alternative, I should say. I think none. God is a God of order. We see it in nature and know that order brings peace and security. In Scripture, as the newly formed Church began its mission, it was clear that Jesus Christ Himself had instilled in it God's divine order. There were twelve Apostles who were given authority to teach and preach the Gospel.
Then there were deacons and bishops who were added to the structure in order to help define leadership and allow the Church to communicate and work together. This "system," if you will, has lasted over a thousand years. But have no fear - this "systemic thinking" is going to 'correct' that which never was broken! It's ridiculous. God made His message clear and simple. Not easy, but easy to understand. One does not need a Ph.D to read the Bible, pray, and respond to the world according to their faith.
Here's their statement on social justice:
Working for a more just and peaceful world is an integral component of LCWR's vision and goals. While many member congregations are actively engaged in efforts promoting social, economic, and earth justice, LCWR provides opportunities for addressing issues of concern with a corporate voice by taking action on resolutions approved at the national assembly. Resolutions are kept before the members through the work of the Global Concerns Committee and periodic publications of Resolutions to Action.
Yes, it reminds me of Marxism. Whenever anyone tries to pit one side of anything - be it a group or structure - against another, know that they are setting up the scenario of class struggle. There is always a conflict and it must, in the eyes of a Marxist, be defeated by destroying the "oppressor" or oppressing structure. This is going on in America right now with the attacks on capitalism and insistence on universal healthcare. It is tragic that women who entered into the religious life have been duped into thinking that their life is to be given to "causes" and activism instead of promoting the doctrine of our faith. When I think of my childhood, I remember the nuns who obviously loved Jesus Christ, their Spouse. They passed along that beautiful curiosity and desire for spiritual intimacy. It was from them that I understood there was something deeper to life than getting all the toys I wanted or to be popular.
I am not sure what the CDF will accomplish. As far as "systems" go, all I can see is a complete dismantling of the LCWR and a reconstruction from the ground up in order to get it back on track. If these women want to be Marxists, then leave the religious communities and do so. Don't try to fool the Catholic Church into thinking you're religious when in truth you're not.