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
Papal Nuncio to the United States

 

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?

Pretty slim.

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:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/us/us-nuns-weigh-response-to-scathing-vatican-critique.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120729&pagewanted=al

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:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_doc_14051978_mutuae-relationes_en.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

24 Responses to A seamless garment: The Vatican, the LCWR, and U.S. Catholic higher education…

  • c matt says:

    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

    I suppose she has never heard the phrase “there is nothing new under the sun.” But that might require reading a certain collection of books she probably thinks passe.

    It all boils down to (as always) the following syllogism:

    1. I want to have sex with my girlfriend/boyfriend/SS partner/anyone, etc. etc.

    2. The Church says I can’t

    3. Therefore, the Church is wrong.

  • Good post, Montley Monk.

    C. Matt’s comment is 100% correct.

    What these people do not understand (or perhaps they do and reject it out of hubris) is that Jesus Christ came to establish a Monarchy with Him as King and Lord of all. He did NOT come to establish a Democracy. No one gets to vote in the Kingdom of God except God and His vote is final.

  • Patrick says:

    Thank you for putting into such eloquent words what I have felt hearing the LCWR use of “questioning” as a form of filibuster.

    I pray that when the LCWR comes to “dialogue,” they do so on how to return to the authentic teachings of our Church, because to lose one Catholic to such faulty logic is an unfortunate situation, indeed.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Perhaps, we should recall the words of St Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Blessed Apostle St John:-

    “Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” [Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8] and

    “Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God” [Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1]

    This was the teaching of the Apostolic Age

  • Maureen says:

    Actually, I think it’s Hegelian dialectic thingy. But Marxists use Hegel.

    (I only know this because Brust and Bull wrote a dialectic historical fantasy novel. Yes, they are just a tad on the left. Yes, it’s a very weird fantasy novel.)

  • For clarity’s sake: Dialectical materialism — that Man originates History through active consciousness — was originated by Moses Hess and developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engelsis. In short, dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism, synthesizing Hegel’s dialectics.

  • Joannie says:

    I agree with the mention of the role of Marxism in this article, because I got just a couple of months ago a piece of mail from the Cardinal Mindzenty Foundation and they actually claim that Marxism was planned for this country as well as all over the world. They outlined how this would include the Family Private Property and Education. It seem to start in this Country at the beginning of the 20th Century. The use of the words”sexism” Homophobia, and Misogynist, are always being used. The more orthodox men and women would be labeled as “RIGID” which has a Marxist type implications and the blackballing. Somehow all of this seems to tie in with the term “political correctness” is actually just another word for what is called “cultural Communism” and the oppressed minorities like women, Homosexuals etc.-Class Warfare at its best and sadly it has even crept into our Church right after the Second Vatican Council.

  • PM says:

    This denial of our Creator in all the ways it is happening reminds me of a quote from a romantic comedy called ‘French Kiss’.

    “Fester, fester, fester; rot, rot, rot.” said the naive girl, Meg Ryan, to the thief and lier she’d like to see redeemed, Kevin Kline.

    The removal of the tenets of U.S. Constitution by our own government in the name of diversity, tolerance, etc. with fingerpointing, lewd hand gestures, and not sober speech by leaders akin to the finger pointing of Nikita Krushchev when he said to the United States, “We will bury you.”

  • Joannie,

    Just because because someone advocates political correctness or talks about sexism does not make them a Marxist. Marxism implies very specific beliefs about the progression of history, and almost none of the people who talk about the things you mentioned hold those beliefs.

    Look at it this way. The Catholic Church is one of the most organized institutions in history. Yet among Catholics, there’s a broad range of disagreements about things like tax policy or the social safety net. So if the Catholic Church is so organized, and yet there’s still all this disagreement and diversity, then how could Marxists be organized enough that they all have the same agenda? Conspiracy theories that large simply don’t make sense.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    In fact, the modern revolutionary Left tends to be anti-Marxist and anarchist rather than socialist, following rather in the tradition of Bakunin, Proudhon and Sorel. Proudhon provided a summary of their position, when he wrote, “The economic idea of capitalism, the politics of government or of authority, and the theological idea of the Church are three identical ideas, linked in various ways. To attack one of them is equivalent to attacking all of them . . . What capital does to labour, and the State to liberty, the Church does to the spirit.”

    Unlike Marxists, they hold a “Voluntarist” view of history – it is not a question of helping the historical tendency or necessity to realize itself, but to “stop the train” of history. They accuse Marxists of re-introducing the “Big Other,” [le grand autre”]to use Lacan’s phrase, in the form of Historical Determinism. Hence their unbounded contempt for such typical Marxist arguments as “it is too early for the Socialist revolution, the working class is not yet mature” or “the majority of the population is not on our side, so the revolution would not really be democratic” ; for them, this search for a guarantee is simply fear of “the abyss of the act.”

    This is why they found the Paris banlieue riots of 2006 or the London riots of 2011 so inspiring: here was an assault that made no demands, a threat without a message that was the negation of politics.

    This is Hegel’s dialectic, rather than Marx’s travesty of it; not thesis-antithesis-synthesis, but abstract-negative-concrete, or immediate-mediate-concrete.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Reluctant Liberal says:
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 A.D. at 5:34pm
    Joannie,
    Just because because someone advocates political correctness or talks about sexism does not make them a Marxist. Marxism implies very specific beliefs about the progression of history, and almost none of the people who talk about the things you mentioned hold those beliefs.
    Look at it this way. The Catholic Church is one of the most organized institutions in history. Yet among Catholics, there’s a broad range of disagreements about things like tax policy or the social safety net. So if the Catholic Church is so organized, and yet there’s still all this disagreement and diversity, then how could Marxists be organized enough that they all have the same agenda? Conspiracy theories that large simply don’t make sense.

    In short, the Catholic Church tends to gather together the community for love, security and support. It is also the duty of the government constituted by the same citizens who are the community of the church to “secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves AND TO OUR POSTERITY: from the Preamble to our U.S. Constitution. It is the duty of the government and the state to protect and defend innocence as the standard of Justice and the virginity of ourselves and our constitutional posterity. This is constitution, community and church.
    That which tends to divide, separate and destroy TRUTH from virtue, from the many people, from the rights of the TRUTH AND THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE is called the enemy, isolating individuals from their FREEDOM, to their destruction.
    The enemy’s name is LEGION.
    Tolerance and diversity only serve the TRUTH, WHEN THEY ARE PREDICATED ON JUSTICE. Petition to almighty God’s perfect Justice is the only way to freedom.
    Dissent for the sake of dissent is a tantrum against the TRUTH by the already vanquished. The tax code has already been met by the parishioners of the Catholic Church as citizens. Clergy and laity do not surrender their citizenship because they have chosen to surrender their lives to almighty God. Everything in the church: faith, TRUTH, fortunes, land, buildings, schools, and in the state: Justice, virtue, public lands, and waterways, and freedom itself is held in trust for our posterity. The heavy hand of hell has been laid on our constitutional posterity. God has been ostracized from the community.
    Virginity and virtue are the bane of communism at every turn. That is why abortion takes front and center in communism. Take heart, Jesus Christ has descended into hell and returned triumphant and in His hand He brought us.

  • Ms. B - Texas says:

    “The Church must speak with one voice. We all know that the fundamental tactic of the enemy is to show a church divided.” — Archbishop Vigano’

    Every time I hear this “Unity” crap from the clergy it makes me shudder. At the local level the priests always say this when they want everyone in the parish to get behind their personal agenda. ex. building plans, personnel plans, ministry focus, etc. I’ve never heard it used in reference to Church teaching. I assume the Archbishop means unity in the real and best sense of preaching the Truth all together. It’s sad that he has to tell the U.S. hierarchy to “get orthodox.”

  • Mary De Voe says:

    “It’s sad that he (Archbishop Vigano) has to tell the U.S. hierarchy to “get orthodox.” The Archbishop can and ought to be accompanied by each and every lay person. You post here. Put the TRUTH in the parish priest’s ear.

  • Susan Varenne says:

    First, I know nuns. I had IHM”‘s for grade school and high school, BVM’s for college, and I was a member of the Convent of the Sacred Heart until that order fell apart. I am, actually, a practicing Catholic in a parish where we have devoted priests and excellent liturgical music. My husband and I work hard to support the choir. Our children all went to Catholic schools, married Catholic, and are raising their children Catholic. Deo gratias! So these are my credentials. Now I must say that I am really fatigued by the LCWR ninnie nuns and the adulation of the press for these women of little brain. People who cannot see the gift of God in the person of Benedict XVI are blind to what is good, true and beautiful. Instead of that Marx Hubbard New Age mouthpiece, these nuns need to be re-evangelized. I would suggest a retreat based on Fr. Robert Barron’s sublime and excellent DVD CATHOLICISM. I would be glad to share the reflection questions I wrote for my parish for each episode free of charge. They should all listen to the CD that accompanies the DVD while they sit in silence in a real chapel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. They would do well to look again at the saints and choose one to model themselves after in virtue and piety. They should re-state their vows and re-commit themselves to canonical religious life. This would be the basis for a tremendous renewal. They long ago abandoned the liturgy, substituted a free-wheeling kind of discernment for examination of conscience, and gave up meditative prayer on scripture and the solid theology of the Fathers of the Church. All this prattle about “dialogue”is a waste of time. They need to get busy re-building their faith. Then could really serve the poor something besides a dose of their own ego along with the soup. Give them good that lasts when they come for the food that perishes. How did these nuns get so lost? They need to let Jesus get into the boat with them once again.

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