A seamless garment: The Vatican, the LCWR, and U.S. Catholic higher education…
In a speech delivered in June 2012 to the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Atlanta, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, called this a “difficult time.” He then said:
The Church must speak with one voice. We all know that the fundamental tactic of the enemy is to show a church divided.
This can be viewed, he said, “providentially, as an invitation to the entire Church in the United States, especially among her consecrated religious and in her educational institutions, to take on an attitude of deep communion with the local bishop.”
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
In that one very diplomatically worded statement, Archbishop Viganò put his finger directly on the raw nerve The Motley Monk believes has been stretched, if not perforated and maybe even torn—a schism in the U.S. Catholic Church—since the close of the Second Vatican Council.
What’s that nerve?
It’s the stretching of the meaning of the term “Catholic“—as in “Roman Catholic“—through the incessant questioning of its doctrinal and moral teaching that has as its primary objective to berate fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. That questioning has gone to the point that many religious women and men as well as many Catholic institutions of higher education no longer uphold Church teaching—are not united with the bishops—but instead thrive on “questioning” both Church teaching and its pastors—all under the disguise of “teaching Theology” (without a mandatum, of course).
Most recently, this nerve has been tested yet once again by the instruction issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCWR).
Discussing the instruction, the LCWR’s President, Sister Pat Farrell, told a New York Times reporter that the Vatican seems to regard “questioning” as “defiance,” while the sisters see it as a form of “faithfulness.” Sr. Farrell said:
We have a differing perspective on obedience. Our understanding is that we need to continue to respond to the signs of the times, and the new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life are not something we see as a threat.
Let’s be honest: That’s code language for the Marxian materialist dialectic—identify the thesis, promote the antithesis, and develop a “consensus” in the form of a new synthesis that gradually “transforms” the “old” into the “new.”
The Marxian materialistic dialectic
To wit: “defiance vs. faithfulness,” emerging in a new “consensus” of openness to the modern world as taught by Vatican II. Such “questioning,” it is asserted, should present absolutely no threat, except to those old and tired Vatican ideologues who are grasping onto their failed ideological thesis that the modern world resoundingly rejects.
Get with the program!
That’s why Sr. Farrell equates the LCWR’s “questioning“—which, by the way, The Motley Monk happens to believe is a very good thing when it’s actually questioning not filibustering or badgering—with the need to use materialist ideologies (the antithesis) to judge the validity of Church teaching (the thesis) for the modern world.
Is this a Faustian pact?
The Motley Monk would note, there’s a vast gulf demarcating “belief seeking understanding” (“I believe in the virgin birth and am questioning what I believe in order to understand better what it really means in the modern world”) from “understanding seeking belief” (“I question the virgin birth and will not believe in it until I have sufficient proof using my standard for determining the truth of the matter”). The former reveals a sincere questioner—a person of faith—while the latter reveals a petulant ideologue—a closed-minded bigot.
Or, more pointedly, about the issues of concern to the LCWR:
- “I believe that God has ordained complementary roles for women and men, with the priesthood reserved to men and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church teaching about an all-male priesthood and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”
- “I believe that God has endowed nature with a law that governs all of nature and violating that law is immoral and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means about the use of artificial forms of birth control in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church’s teaching about the use of artificial forms of birth control and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”
- “I believe that God has ordained marriage to be a sacred union between one male and one female for the purpose of begetting families and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means about homosexuals who want to attempt marriage in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church teaching about marriage, am open to homosexual marriage, and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”
What’s the likelihood of “metanoia” (a change of “mind”), that is, giving up the Marxist materialist ideology?
That’s the nerve Archbishop Viganò put his finger on when he addressed the nation’s bishops. It’s the materialist, Marxist ideology that’s shaped how many of the nation’s religious women and men think. It’s also shaped the culture of many of the nation’s institutions of Catholic higher education because it’s how many of those who administer and teach in those institutions think.
That in his role as Papal Nuncio, The Motley Monk understands why Archbishop Viganò delivered that address to the bishops. Viganò was relating to the bishops—the pastors—what’s on the Pope’s mind
The problem is that the Archbishop’s message needs to be delivered directly to the pastors’ choirmasters and mistresses.
It would be quite interesting if Archbishop Viganò was to deliver the very same address to the heads of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the presidents of the nation’s institutions of Catholic higher education.
His reference to “an attitude of deep communion with the local bishop” recalls The Motley Monk’s reading of the 1978 joint-directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Religious “Directive for mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church.” Chapters 2 and 3 offer a rich theological reflection upon the concept of ecclesial communion which differentiates the Roman Catholic Church from other churches and denominations, and in particular, Protestantism and Anglicanism.
Challenging the women and men religious as well as the presidents of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges to read and reflect upon this model may inform them that they are not thinking with the Church.
To read the article in the New York Times, click on the following link:
To read the 1978 joint-directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Religious “Directive for mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church,” click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link: