Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sister X's Letter on the Vatican Visitation- Part 2

Here Sister X's letter continues. If you haven't read it you might want to read the first part of the letter (and my responses) one post down on this blog. The letter itself is in black, my thoughts are in pretty petal pink.

"The threat of disciplinary action makes it difficult for women religious to speak out on this topic. That is why I am writing anonymously. I happen to trust my local bishop and thank my lucky stars for him. But what if a bishop from some other diocese, or an American cleric at the Vatican—or a bishop on a USCCB committee who wanted to make a show of doctrinal orthodoxy-decided to target me for what I have written? This has happened to other sisters." How dare the Church leadership want Catholics who are faithful to it's teachings, teaching others? Personally I don't think that that is too much to ask. If you present yourself as a representative of a certain group you should expect to be held to that group's standards. No one is forcing these women to be Catholic and there are plenty of luke warm groups that would have no problem with their "beliefs." Heck they could even be ordained in other denominations. "In the current climate, would my bishop be willing to violate the tacit norm that bishops “don’t criticize one another in public” by intervening to defend me? I don’t want to put him in such a position." I think this is the only man in the entire article that doesn't get bashed (some for no other reason than because they are men and couldn't possibly understand women).

"And that’s not the only worry. When a bishop wants to go after an individual sister—to “make an example of that nun”—he often has some Vatican office write a letter to the superior or the president of her congregation, pressuring the leadership to “do something.”" Again, if you are going to represent yourself as a member of a Catholic religious community there are going to be standards and rules. "The rule is judgment first, evidence later; and if the women in leadership don’t do something to punish the allegedly wayward sister, the Vatican will move against them. It’s a form of collective punishment, and the threat keeps rank-and-file women religious silent on controversial topics—such as the visitation. And so with a few notable exceptions, such as Sisters Joan Chittister, OSB, and Sandra Schneiders, IHM, the rank and file has been silent about the visitation since it began nine months ago. Members don’t want to say anything that will draw down the Vatican’s wrath on their leadership." The view of the Vatican begins to emerge and it's not a positive one. Sister X says she "loves the Church" and she has to say it because she certainly doesn't show it in her words.

"Cardinal Levada has delegated the work of doctrinal assessment of the LCWR to Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio. Bishop Blair seems a genial man; yet his dissertation for his doctorate at the Angelicum in Rome was titled “Masculine and Feminine Symbolism in the Church: A Reappreciation of the Marian/Feminine Dimension.” I’m sorry, but I tend to get nervous when bishops start expatiating on the symbolism of the eternal feminine." Say it's not so! A man who writes about masculine and feminine topics! I've ran across this before and it's always annoying at best. There's a type of woman that can't accept that any man anywhere might have something insightful to say about women. It's a sort of arrogance that is absurd. Only women can know women. How dare a man write about topics that involve feminine symbolism. I doubt she'd have a problem with a woman writing the same article, although it includes masculine symbolism. "Bishop Blair was also a member of a bishops’ committee that was scheduled to meet at the University of Notre Dame last year, but moved the meeting off campus to protest a performance of The Vagina Monologues." Good, it's nice to see a Bishop who actually stand up for what's right and good and who don't think that this type of thing is appropriate at a Catholic College. I don't think any serious Catholic can argue that The Vagina Monologues is anything other than crude and disgusting. Believe me, I know. My roommate at the Catholic College I attended was in the play and practiced her lines for weeks in our room. "Suffice it to say, most bishops are good and well-meaning men; still, it is the rare bishop who has any real understanding of the lives women actually lead." Here she comes out and says it. Men can't really know anything about women. The basic attitude is- How dare they judge us?!?!?! You are men!!!

"Let’s back up a bit and ask: Where did the impetus for the visitation and investigation originate? During a visit to Rome last April, several officers of the Leadership Conference put this question to Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of CICLSAL, and were informed that the initiative had been suggested by American members of the curia, some U.S. bishops, and some members of religious communities. Cardinal Rodé told LCWR officers that “concerns” had been expressed on issues ranging from living arrangements to the lack of new vocations to the public positions some women religious take on topics such as women’s ordination, homosexuality, and abortion." I'd say that those are pretty valid concerns. I was disturbed to see a nun on television the other day who supported health care and didn't see why health care that included abortion (which she didn't deny) was a problem.

"In early August, the Vatican made available the twelve-page Instrumentum laboris that outlined the visitation process. The document’s provisions are not reassuring. For instance, no women representatives of American congregations are slated to speak to Cardinal Rodé; nor will any be allowed to read a draft of the report submitted to him by the appointed “visitator,” Mother Mary Clare Millea, ACSJ. Thus, no congregational president will have the chance to qualify the report’s evaluation or dispute its conclusions—or even to see a list of the American cardinals and bishops who recommended the study in the first place." This is an investigation because there is a very real problem. The investigators don't want to waste time with the PR spin that the "representatives" could give. They want to find the truth and these groups have shown that they have no problem rejecting the truth. These groups are going to have to deal with the results of their public denouncement of many Catholic beliefs. Such secrecy does not create a climate in which the church’s pastoral outreach can be effectively communicated; and one suspects that Rome’s interventions will hardly promote vocations to women’s religious communities. Actually I keep seeing articles about how the strict religious orders are having an increase in vocations. I doubt any of the groups investigated would qualify under the category of "orthodox." And it doesn't seem that they have many vocations to lose, because women who are religious enough to enter into a community, seem to be religious enough to choose one that's orthodox.

I have to run because Sadie (who still gives the article a frown) is awake. More soon...

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