Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Radical Feminists’

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? 


Another Mystery on the Front Lawn

August 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Hopefull

It’s a Mystery, but here are six clues.  We’re trying to figure out “What happened?”  What do you think?

Clue #1:  Check out the list of dissenters from the teaching of the Catholic Church, and notice a Sister Joan Chittister on marked as a dissenting speaker for her support of the ordination of women, feminist theology, Call to Action, and as a frequent contributor to the National Catholic Reporter dissident periodical.  On the dissidents’  list she keeps company with Frs. Charles Curran and Richard McBrien, retired Bishop Weakland, Cardinal Mahoney, and VP Biden…..among many others.

Clue #2:  LifeSite News Interview (LSN) with the Dissident nun Sister Joan Chittister (JC)  contains such gems as the following exchange on Feb. 15, 2010 when she was in Canada to deliver a Lenten mission for Canada’s National Catholic Broadcasting Council (NCBC):

  • LSN: Okay. So you don’t have a stand on contraception?
  • JC: Well, I’m a nun. And I, I mean, I believe that – in the first place, the Church is not opposed to birth control. The Church is great on arithmetic, they just have a problem with chemistry…..
  • LSN: Okay. Where do you stand on something like the woman’s right to choose?
  • JC: I believe that that’s – let’s put it this way. I’m opposed to abortion. I have no problem with that whatsoever.  I would never see abortion as a birth control method of choice. But having said that, I would never condemn a woman who finds herself in the position where she believes that, or her doctor believes that, abortion is the only answer for her at that moment. My problem lies in the fact that we make it an absolute.
  • LSN: Would …you think that the fact that you are questioning Church teaching on these things, would that present a problem for you presenting on a Catholic program?
  • JC: Well, you see, I’m more concerned about your questions than I am about my presentation. Because you’re obviously not – you aren’t even interested in the program.  What you’re trying to do is to create some situation where a program on spiritual development in the 21st century is questionable.  And I’m not happy about that at this moment. I consider it bad journalism in the first place, because you didn’t call about the program. So I don’t know how to answer you….. I just think it’s irresponsible.  If I said to you, now you’re a journalist … The reason I want to know that is you’re a journalist, and can you really present those questions objectively if you’re writing a story?  More at:

Clue #3:  LifeSiteNews carried the story of the Detroit Archbishop issuing a warning against a dissident conference in Detroit.  … On June 7, 2011 Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit sent out a second warning to clergy and Catholics in his flock against participating in an upcoming conference in his diocese, organized by a group of dissident Catholics, including groups that promote the normalization of homosexuality, abortion, and other liberal issues.

“All of the invited keynote speakers have manifested dissent from Catholic teachings or support for dissenters,” says a question/answer statement from the diocese posted on its website.  “Keynote speakers include: Hans Kung, a dissenting theologian priest who had his authority to teach rescinded by the Church; Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez, a board member of the group Catholics for Choice which rejects Church teaching on the immorality of abortion; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who as Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland publicly opposed Church teaching on abortion and chastised American bishops for pushing to make abortion illegal; and Sr. Joan Chittister, an open advocate of women’s ordination…”  More can be found at

Clue #4:     Stella Maris Retreat and Renewal Center  sponsored a retreat  July 3-9, 2011 called: “In Search of Belief” Retreat Presented by Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, OSB based on the Book by Sister Joan Chittester [sic], OSB….  Presenter, Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, OSB, is the director of spirituality program for the Erie Benedictines.  For $435 you could have participated. The Stella Maris literature states that Sr. Carolyn has facilitated many retreats and days of reflection since 1983, and has served on the leadership team of the Erie Unit of Church Women United, an ecumenical international organization for 12 years. See more information at:

Clue #5:  Recent announcements in some DoR parish bulletins:   MERCY PRAYER CENTER RETREAT EVENT:  The Center at 65 Highland Avenue in Rochester will be offering a Guided Retreat titled “In Her Own Words” on Monday, August 15th, at 7 p.m. through Saturday, August 20th after Brunch. The Facilitator will be Sr. Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, OSB, and the retreat will be based on the book of Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, titled “In Her Own Words.”   Come to learn how ordinary life can become an extraordinary adventure!  ….The resident fee is $375/commuter fee $300.  See more online at

Clue #6:  This above program has disappeared from the MercyPrayer Center offerings.  Was it cancelled?  Oversubscribed?  Why?  Is there more here than meets the eye?  Or just another run-of the mill dissenter on stage in the Diocese of Rochester?  But we rest assured that like an unwanted dandelion in the front lawn each spring, that Sr. Chittister will pop up again soon, and hopefully get blown off.

A Ultra-Liberal Feminist On Abortion

January 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

In today’s Democrat & Chronicle editorial section, there is a letter to the editor from the president of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. This group is part of the ultra-liberal wing of the feminist movement (the difference between conservative and ultra-liberal feminists is often that conservatives want equality for women, while ultra-liberals want superiority). Here is an excerpt from her commentary on abortion “rights”:

“As has been widely reported, about one-third of all women in the United States will choose to terminate a pregnancy in their lifetime. So my question to the letter-writer is this: Would you have the legal system punish these women as murderers?

It’s unlikely the answer is yes. Even the most rabidly anti-abortion advocates turn evasive and equivocate when confronted with that question.

Women end unwanted pregnancies. Some are able to do it safely, and some not. That is a fact of life — always has been, always will be, and no amount of hyperbolic rhetoric is going to change that.”

In response to her question whether we should prosecute those who commit infanticide, this “rabid anti-abortion advocate” will provide an answer: YES.  Intentional murder is intentional murder, regardless of how many people are committing the crime. Were 1/3 of people committing rape, would that mean we should not punish those who rape? Absolutely not! The number of people committing a crime has no bearing on whether or not something is illegal.

I really hope the letter writer made a mistake in her statistic that one-third of women in this country will have an abortion. Otherwise, may God have mercy on our souls.

A Quintessential Father Z. Rant

July 27th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

I know that Father John Zuhlsdorf  isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea,” but he is at his finest today as he “fisks” a column from the National Catholic Reporter (or in Fr. Z. world – fishwrap).  Note that one of his tags on this piece is called “Throwing a Nutty.”  I think the CF staff needs to consider adding this to our list of tags.  Enjoy the master at work.

In His Peace,


Jesus, our sister? Part 2

June 7th, 2010, Promulgated by Bernie

Continued from Part 1

Continuing from Part 1, we turn now to the context in which Christian images were created in the fourth and fifth centuries.

There are at least three aspects that need to be described in order to posit a possible explanation for the existence of certain feminine looking images of Jesus. First, the centuries we are poking around in were troublesome for the Church. They were rife with heresies. The role and person of Jesus Christ was at the center of most of them. Even ecumenical councils failed in some instances to end the controversies.  So, the period we are concerned with was one of trying to understand who Jesus was and what role he played.

The second context we need to be aware of was a very practical one. Artists were not creative personalities such as we know them to be today. They were artisans. The quality of their technical skill distinguished them and not innovative expression.  Much like picking out wallpaper today customers were shown examples of images from which they would choose what they wanted. There was certainly some room for creativity but, generally, the images themselves and their basic poses (especially images of the gods) were fairly standard, even from artist to artist.

Thirdly,we have to consider who was commissioning Christian images. Several of the examples we saw in Part 1 were from sarcophagi (Fig. 1) or small statuettes. In fact, the examples of feminine Christs were works commissioned by private individuals or families.   Even the apse example we looked at in Part 1 was made in the private chapel of an imperial princess.

Fig. 1 "Roman Sarophagus" (4th c.)

A stone or marble sarcophagus (coffin) or statuette was expensive and therefore only commissioned by the wealthy. Those people  held positions of some importance in daily life. They consisted of landowners, successful business men, magistrates and even higher placed members of the imperial administration. Keep in mind that the first Christian converts from that class were women, the wives. The men tended to be more conservative and held onto their pagan ways until it became apparent that there was career advantage to being Christian. It was a common complaint of bishops of the period that these new converts often brought into the Church their old pagan ways. The main problem for bishops regarding the pagans was not so much in converting them but rather preventing them from reverting back to their old practices once they did convert.

Consider also that this social class was very conscious of being Roman, as opposed to barbarian. Proper education was essential for membership in that class. Generally speaking evidence of a proper education  was speaking and writing fine Latin (and Greek) mostly learned by reading and writing about the myths and other stories of the pagan gods. The possession of quality artistic images –frescoes, mosaics, sculpture, and decorated dishes, pottery, etc.– that showed the gods (Fig. 2) and goddesses were, of course, also evidence of Roman-ness.

Fig. 2 "Hercules Fighting Snakes" (date ?) Roman marble sculpture

The Church herself commissioned decorative works for her first churches but those didn’t begin to appear until the later half of the fourth century. St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the earliest churches, is thought to have been still unfinished in 350. Of the earliest examples of such large scale decorations is the Church of Santa Costanza (Fig. 3) in Rome which actually started out as a mausoleum for Constantine’s Christian daughter, Constantina.

Fig. 3 "Vintaging Putti" (ca. 350) ambulatory vault of Church of Santa Costanza, Rome

The ceiling of the ambulatory is decorated in mosaic images totally consistent with pagan decorations of mausolea from the same period. Christian scenes from the life of Christ are included but occupy relatively small rectangular spaces. We should note, however, that Constantina’s two husbands were aggressively pagan and so they may have influenced the decoration.

That is a basic description of the context in which Christian art appeared during the fourth and fifth centuries. The person and role of Jesus Christ was being hotly debated among Christians. New converts, from the privileged class of Roman society, commissioned images from artists of the day who often did not create innovative imagery but produced from an existing repertoire.

Now, as to just exactly how the feminine looking images of Christ came about. On to Part 3.


Book suggestions:

Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, (Malden, Blackwell Publishing 2003)

Paul Corby Finney, The Invisible God –The Earliest Christians on Art, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1994)

Mike Aquilina, The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, (Huntington, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 2006)