Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic feminists’

In Search of a Lenten Journey

January 24th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

So, here I am – a Catholic, looking forward (almost) to yet another Lenten journey, wondering how to best enrich my deepening in faith, intensify repentance.  It seemed rather logical to look first at the potential of local offerings.   I started with “Centers” and the programs they are offering,  and the Mercy Spirituality Center is as far as I got.

I hope others might respond in a comment about meaningful experiences that are going to be available locally during Lent, maybe in some parishes?  Meanwhile, I can clarify what doesn’t interest me, because I can’t see how most of the offerings below will increase my “spirituality,” let alone lead me to better know and practice the Catholic Faith, or learn to evangelize others a little bit.

An Altar in the World

This 5-session ($25/session plus book) uses the writing of former Episcopalian preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor.  Her book begins: “Welcome to your own priesthood, practiced at the altar of your own life.”  Oh.  That doesn’t leave much to the imagination!  Nor does it sound like it will help me decrease, so Christ can increase in my life.  A reviewer of her book says “One of her goals is to abolish the distinctions we make between church and world, sacred and secular, spirit and flesh, body and soul.”  Oh. Oh.  In a world religions class which she teaches, apparently the word “God” is interspersed with a “semantic range of synonyms”  like “the Real, the Really Real, the Sacred, the Holy, and the divine More,” from the Buddhist 8-fold path to the Muslim notion of pilgrimage, to the Sufi mystic poet Rumi.  More ‘Oh’.  I pass.

Centering Prayer

There are some offerings in “Centering Prayer,” with a lot of silence, “contemplative sittings” and optional massage.  I’m having a hard time seeing that strategy and the $40 (plus more for the massage) as fitting the “Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving” of Lent.  I’ll pass.

Into the Desert:  A Lenten Journey

Aaah!  Here’s one that sounded like it fit a Lenten Journey,” and for just a free will offering.  Oh, it’s a “liturgy.”  A one-hour liturgy, promising to deliver participation in “prayer and song, fostering an experience of the love of God with an awareness of brokenness, sinfulness, and the need for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and healing.”  WOW!  That’s a lot for an hour.  That’s a lot for a liturgy that is not Mass or Confession.  Guess not.  Nice title though.  Even without the massage.

Psycho-Spiritual Dynamics

In this 6-hour workshop (bring your own lunch and $35) “Participants will be invited to look inwardly and reflect on what they discover as a basis for deep awareness for spiritual and psychological growth, …  comparing and distinguishing between “Depression, Desolation, Dark Night.” Ouch.  The wrap up states: “The workshop will provide useful information to … people who guide others on their spiritual journey; e.g. Prayer Guides, Spiritual Directors, Parish Staff.” Oh, well I’m not in any of those categories, not meant for me.

Let’s Get Down to Earth

A description of this $10, two hour session reads: “Mother Earth is our home, our friend, our food.  We are totally dependent on her.”  Whoops right there – I’m totally dependent on God!  Not on an earth-mother.  This will be a presentation and discussion on “what is being done to heal and to help the planet and what is being done that wounds and wastes.”  And guess who is the new authority to be cited on the environment, but I think not infallibly?  Pope Francis, regarding the relationship of “environmental concerns to the quest for greater wealth.”  I am thinking global warming, recycling, serving the created.  Nope.  I’m looking for something more about the Creator!

All Great Spirituality is about Letting Go

“Participants will place drops of colored inks on photographic paper and watch as beautiful, vibrant images and patterns emerge.”   For 3 hours.  For $30.  For real?  Yes.

Exploring the Enneagram Triads

The enneagram stuff has been hanging around in the DoR for a long time; pops up in various parishes from time to time.  How sad to see it is still alive and kicking.  Most of us don’t categorize people into nine types, figuring out how to manipulate others and avoid being manipulated ourselves.  (Google ‘enneagram’.)  This is a 4-week series “on the Triads, exploring issues related to the Instinctive, Feeling, and Thinking Centers, the Harmonic Groups (coping strategies when we don’t get what we want) and the Hornevian Groups (strategies for getting needs met.)”  Oh, my.  What a fascinating approach to personal surrender and self-sacrifice as a Lenten motif.  I’m afraid I’d have to confess spending my Lent this way, and $100.  No way.

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown

This is yet another book discussion organized around the writings of a woman pastor (this one in Western Michigan), co-pastoring with her husband, and a fan of labyrinths and a few other new-age practices.  Her book is fiction; but the facilitators state they are “both experienced prayer guides and spiritual directors [who] will facilitate weekly discussion, give you daily readings, reflections and activities and teach you some of the tools….”  for $100 over 4 sessions,  plus $16 for the book.  Another non-starter for me, for my objectives and for my wallet.


But the real cost of doing any of this, IMO, is the more serious soul work of Lent which wouldn’t get done if I took this direction.  I’ll look for some real spiritual reading from among 20 centuries of saints, some real liturgy in the Mass, some Sacred Words from Scripture, some diminishing of my self-importance by seeking absolution and doing penance.   I don’t think I  need this kind of non-Catholic, or fictional, or new age stuff to find God.  I just know He is looking for me.

Lifesite News: Cardinal Burke on “too feminized” Church; liturgy

January 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Cardinal Burke: Catholic Church has ‘become too influenced by radical feminism

“In a wide-ranging interview Cardinal Raymond Burke used frank language to express his grave concerns about the way in which the Catholic Church has been damaged by radical feminism. He also addressed, with a candor rarely heard from pastors, sexual immorality and liturgical abuse.”   See article here.


“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,” the cardinal told Matthew James Christoff, founder of ‘The New Emangelization’, an evangelizing mission focused on men.”

“’Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society,’ said Cardinal Burke. ‘So much of this tradition of heralding the heroic nature of manhood has been lost in the Church today.’”

“‘The Church has become so ‘feminized,’ he said, that ‘men are often reluctant to become active in the Church.’ He explained: ‘The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.’”

“The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service,’ he added. While emphasizing that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church, Cardinal Burke said the introduction of altar girls ‘has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.’”

“The problems men face that have been largely ignored by the Church are especially related to sexuality.  The cardinal decried the ‘very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship.’ The problem was compounded by ‘an explosion of pornography’ in society, he said, ‘which is particularly corrosive for men because it terribly distorts the whole reality of human sexuality.’”

“Turning to liturgy, Cardinal Burke said, ‘There has been, and continues to be, serious liturgical abuses that turn men off.’  He suggested that the Traditional Latin Mass holds for men, especially young men, a great appeal.  ‘The Ordinary Form, if it’s celebrated very reverently with good music, can have the same strong positive effect on men,’ he added. ‘Men don’t go in for this kind of corny approach to the Mass when it becomes some kind of feel-good session, or where there is irreverence.'”

For the full interview see

Once in a While: Good News! LCWR Reform!

April 21st, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It seems like good news to me, even though  “long overdue”!    Zenit reported on April 18th the long awaited reform decision of the “Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR),”  which investigation had been in progress since early 2008.   And the ladies without veils now seem a bit bent out of shape.  How ironic that the Vatican should have issued this decision during the Rochester Diocesan Convocation, when a speaker more LEM-ish than the Bishop was said to be the keynote!  (And that during a time of great  crisis in our country over Freedom of Religion, when there are many subjects of much greater importance to discuss!)  I choose to take this timing of the Pope’s decision as a good sign, and to relish that God still has His sense of humor!  and that He hasn’t forgotten how we suffer.

The  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has now called for reform of the LCWR and named Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate (aka babysitter, overseer, go-between, monitor, etc.)  Bishop Leonard Blair (Toledo, OH) and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki (Springfield, IL) also were named to assist in this effort.

The archbishop delegate’s role is to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work of the LCWR,” for up to 5 years, according to a document titled “Doctrinal Assessment  of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious” by the CDF.  There is also to be a formal link to the USCCB.

The document notes that speeches and presentations given at LCWR meetings contain serious theological and doctrinal error and lack of agreement with Church teachings on matters such as women priests and homosexuality.  The news release also mentions the issue of radical feminism.

While the Prefect of the CDF, William Cardinal Levada, apparently tried to soften the blow with words such as Zenit reported: “The findings  …  are aimed at fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities,” the results were not taken softly by those in the crosshairs. 

The statement by Cardinal Levada is also on line. 

Key findings:

“…the talks, while not scholarly theological discourses … do have significant doctrinal and moral content and implications which often contradict or ignore magisterial teaching.”

“the LCWR publicly expressed in 1977 its refusal to assent to the teaching on the reservation of priestly ordination to men.   This public refusal has never been corrected.”  

“Several of the addresses at LCWR conferences present a vision or description of religious life that does not conform to the faith and practice of the Church.”

“Some speakers claim that dissent from the doctrine of the Church is justified as an exercise of the prophetic office. But this is based upon a mistaken understanding of the dynamic of prophecy in the Church….”

“Some of the addresses at LCWR-sponsored events perpetuate a distorted ecclesiological vision, and have scant regard for the role of the Magisterium as the guarantor of the authentic interpretation of the Church’s faith.”

“The analysis … reveals … a two-fold problem.  The first consists in positive error (i.e. doctrinally problematic statements or formal refutation of Church teaching given at LCWR-sponsored conferences or General Assemblies). The second level of the problem concerns the silence and inaction of the LCWR in the face of such error, given its responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life.”

” … the CDF intends to assist the LCWR in placing its activity into a wider context of religious life in the universal Church in order to foster a vision of consecrated life consistent with the Church’s teaching. …. the CDF notes the absence of initiatives by the LCWR aimed at promoting the reception of the Church’s teaching, especially on difficult issues such as … Church teaching about homosexuality.”

“…a neutral model of Congregational leadership that does not give due attention to the responsibility which Superiors are called to exercise, namely, leading sisters into a greater appreciation or integration of the truth of the Catholic faith.”

“Other programs reportedly stressed their own charism and history, and/or the Church’s social teaching or social justice in general, with little attention to basic Catholic doctrine, such as that contained in the authoritative text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. … it may … be concluded that confusion about the Church’s authentic doctrine of the faith is reinforced, rather than corrected, by the lack of doctrinal content in the resources provided by the LCWR for Superiors and Formators.”

The Mandate to the Archbishop Delegate:

1) To revise LCWR Statutes to ensure greater clarity about the scope of the mission and responsibilities of this conference of major superiors. The revised Statutes will be submitted to the Holy See for approval ….

2) To review LCWR plans and programs, including General Assemblies and publications, to ensure that the scope of the LCWR’s mission is fulfilled in accord with Church teachings and discipline.  In particular:

-Systems Thinking Handbook will be withdrawn from circulation pending revision. 

– LCWR programs for (future) Superiors and Formators will be reformed.

– Speakers/presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by Delegate.

 3) To create new LCWR programs for member Congregations for the development of initial and ongoing formation material that provides a deepened understanding of the Church’s doctrine of the faith.

4) To review and offer guidance in the application of liturgical norms and texts. For example:

-The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in LCWR events and programs.

5) To review LCWR links with affiliated organizations, e.g. Network and Resource Center for Religious Life.

Reply from LCWR:  while quotes are not yet widespread, USA Today did report that a Sister Simone Campbell attributes the slapdown to her group’s support of Obamacare and of  HHS’s so-called “compromise.”  But it seems more like a symptom of the disease than a cause of the cure. 

Here is an excerpt:  “The Vatican announcement said that ‘while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.’  It added that ‘crucial’ issues like ‘the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching.  Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.’  …  The LCWR also said that assertions made by speakers at LCWR conferences are not necessarily their own.  The Vatican called that response “inadequate” and unsupported by the facts…. Sister Simone Campbell, Network’s executive director, said she was ‘stunned’  that the Vatican document would single out her group, probably over its support for health care reform. ‘It concerns me that political differences in a democratic country would result in such a censure and investigation,’ Campbell said.  Campbell also strongly defended LCWR. ‘I know LCWR has faithfully-served women religious in the United States and worked hard to support the life of women religious and our service to the people of God.'” 

What about serving God?  and His Church?  It is not reported that Sister Simone Campbell offered any such defense.

Seattle pi snagged a quote from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, former president of the LCWR, who made her accusations to  the National Catholic Reporter:  “When you set out to reform a people, a group, who have done nothing wrong, you have to have an intention, a motivation that is not only morally biased, but actually immoral.  … Because you are attempting to control people for one thing and one thing only — and that is for thinking,  for being willing to discuss the issues of the age . . . . If we stop thinking, if we stop demanding the divine right to think, and to see that as a Catholic gift, then we are betraying the church no matter what the powers of the Church see as an inconvenient truth in their own times.”   (This Sr. Joan is a frequent contributor to NCR, and is elsewhere cited for her support of Call to Action and for ordination of women.)

Seems like a whole lot of wriggling going on. 

Question for Further Discussion:  should Archbishop Sartain get some communications out of Rochester about LEM’s and priestesses?  About having priests “report” to them?  About the similarities in focus to the areas of his present concerns?  Or not? 


What about the “Pastoral Minister” title?

February 25th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

If you haven’t yet caught up with you may not have seen the use of the title “Pastoral Minister”  there.  At least two women are given that title on the site.  One is Kathy Lipfert from Auburn, and the other is Cris Wensel who is an employee of both St. Louis in Pittsford and Our Lady of the Lakes in Penn Yan, and has been since 2008.  (Figure out the mileage on that one!)  Wensel is one who pushed so hard for the wreck-ovation at St. Januarius, and who got low ratings in a parish-wide survey, but  is still hanging on.  (See the Zeal posts II, III, XV, XX, and XXI.) 

Now is she the spokeswoman for Our Lady of the Lakes in evangelization too?  The person who calls the Holy Spirit “she?”  Interesting!  But Fr. Ring defended her gender mis-use; not a surprise in DoR, is it?  Well on the video she identifies herself as a “pastoral associate in the Diocese of Rochester.” 

So, where does the term “Pastoral Minister”  come from? Where does it fit with Pastoral Associate, Pastoral Administrator and Pastor?  Lipfert’s title is enshrined in the Diocesan Directory; Wensel’s is not.  But before the titles disappear from the website, here is the evidence:

If you play the Wensel video, you will hear her identify herself as pastoral associate, but how can we help but wonder what is around the corner?  Why is DoR using these titles now?   Not surprisingly, the difficult time Wensel has had in OLOL is at least partly reflected in her choice of words that the Catholic Church is “grounded in community” and it can be a “little rough, a little frustrating, a little difficult”.  Oh, my — what evangelization is THAT!  If I weren’t Catholic, would I want to run right out and convert?  Not likely.  Her message is to “try out one of our parishes.”  And although she is listed for Yates County, she doesn’t mention OLOL churches.  Check it out at:

 Late Emendation:

When I first posted, I’d hoped for some input and reaction to the spritual pilgrim program, and was wondering if this is a good way to go about evangelization?  However, in the first 10 responses there has been much banter on the comment I’d made about Cris Wensel’s calling the Holy Spirit “she,” and it felt to me like “deja vu all over again” as Yogi Berra would say.  Back in Our Lady of the Lakes this was precisely the question I had called Cris on, and for which Fr. Ring defended her.  He even used some writing by Scott Hahn to argue that Bishop Bruskewitz endorsed Cris’s language.  As the Holy Spirit often and so fortuitously arranges, I actually had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Bruskewitz on the national EWTN call-in show, and here is his reply, soundly defeating the Wensel-Ring arguments, and also some of those arguments posted in the comments below.

Click on this link to hear the commentary with Bishop Bruskewitz:

Diane with Bishop Fabian

Apostatizing in Place: A Book Review

August 19th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement. By Mary J. Henold. University of North Carolina Press. 291 pages. $32.

The following is from a book review by Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the New Oxford Review, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the seventeenth century.


… When Catholic feminists speak of their commitment to the Church, they equivocate; it turns out they mean the “people,” not the “institution.” Indeed, Catholic feminists constantly reduce the Magisterium to an “institution.” They have their own understanding of Catholicism and see themselves as free to choose what to “believe” and what to “abandon.” This is not cafeteria Catholicism, but something different, for they are guided in their choices by a primary loyalty to feminism. Donna Quinn, one of the leading feminist nuns in the 1970s, represents many of them when she declares, “This is my church, this is my tradition. I love this church. I want to change it.” Then she adds, “I have never rejected anything in the feminist movement…. I love the word ‘feminism,’ I have put that first.” Yes, first. This is the idol to which Catholic feminists have been willing to sacrifice the Church.

At the 1975 Detroit Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), the “pivotal event” of the Catholic feminist movement in the 1970s, theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza spoke of our Church needing “a radical conversion.” Feminists like her choose to remain Catholic as a means to an end. Their strategy is called defecting in place, but it may more fittingly be called apostatizing in place.

Throughout Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement, Henold reveals how Catholic feminists have taken a utilitarian approach to religion, using the Church’s sacred language, symbols, and traditions as a “means of understanding and structuring their feminism.” Yes, a means to an end. To begin with, they wanted women priests, Henold says, because they needed …


To read more: This is from an article in the current issue of the New Oxford Review. You will probably need to subscribe in order to read the rest of the column. Do subscribe. The NOR has excellent articles every month. In addition you will get terrific news feeds every morning with excellent links to featured articles from its past issues.