December 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Some groups of American Catholic sisters are continuing to defy the Vatican's attempts to assess their lifestyles and choice of mission. Many say they are simply refusing to fill out the questionnaire for the Vatican's Apostolic Visitation, an investigation into the lives and work of the remaining US religious orders.
Others have complained that the Vatican has not been forthcoming about the reason for the investigation and say they fear being forced back into more traditional patterns of religious life.
Sister Elizabeth Ohmann, a Franciscan nun who works for Humane Borders, an immigration lobby group, noted that the investigation is focusing on active sisters rather than those cloistered in monasteries. She told the Arizona Daily Star that she believes the Visitation is targeting those communities that dissent from Catholic teaching, especially on sexuality.
"I think - and this is my opinion - that they are saying they believe it's the active communities that are really encouraging, say, women priests and are also upholding the rights of homosexuals and even homosexual marriage," she said.
Ohmann admitted that she and some of her fellow sisters were among these, saying, "Are we going contrary to Rome's teachings? I say, 'Yes, it is contrary to Rome's teachings.' But it is not contrary to my own conscience."
I am certain these women religious are aware of the investigation's purpose. It's already been shown that vocations in the United States have suffered a decline since 1965. It also has been made clear that the older communities who abandoned tradition and embraced feminism and Marxism are shutting down. The religious communities that are flourishing are the ones who live in community and wear the habit.
My point about this article is that it raises several questions I have that I'd like to pose to my Catholic readers: When is it time to question one's decisions made with a "Catholic conscience?" When is it right to disagree with the Magisterium? From the Catholic Church Catechism:
In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. (Catechism, Part Three, Article Six no. 1785)
I ask because these sisters seem to think that going against the Church teaching of homosexuals living chaste lives is wrong. They also misunderstand the role of the masculine within the priesthood, instead embracing a philosophy of "equality" that has as much to do with it as an apple with an orange.
I am glad for this investigation because the women religious who are dissenters are now showing their true colors to the Vatican. They don't care about their dwindling numbers and the very justifiable reasons that the Vatican should be concerned. They aren't looking at this investigation as an opportunity to explore together what they might do to improve vocations. No. Instead, they are banging the "Me-Me" drum. It's all about them. Not about the future of vocations and the continuity of our faith in the world - but them and their radicalism.
This, more than anything, should show the women religious an important lesson. If they have truly died to their own desires in order to fully serve Jesus Christ, would they be putting up such a fight? If they examined their own conscience "before the Lord's Cross," meditating upon what He has sacrificed and what was given to us as a gift, would there be any change in their hearts?
I wonder. Because it's obvious they have no intention of being "guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church." It seems they've already placed themselves as the higher authority, answering to no one.