LCWR, Cardinal Levada and the dialogue of the deaf

For all who have been following the tale of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), today was a big day. LCWR president Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell and executive director St. Joseph Sr. Janet Mock met in Rome with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, the Vatican delegate appointed to oversee the assessment in the US.

The official press releases following the meeting were anti-climactic. The Vatican Press gave an official announcement that reiterated the authority of the Holy See over the sister’s conference, and the role of the CDF in ensuring that the LCWR is in union with the Magisterium. The press release from the LCWR was simple. The sisters were returning to the US to discuss the results of the meeting on regional levels and at their annual assembly in August. No interviews were going to be given.

I was musing on this all day, wondering if there was anything worth writing about. Perhaps all had been said to this point. But something still didn’t seem right. Did any actual dialogue take place? I wrote a blog post for NCR Today, but hesitated sending it in. I kept checking the National Catholic Reporter web-site for more news, and there was nothing. So, I sent off my wee piece. Almost simultaneously, John Allen Jr. posted an interview with Cardinal Levada, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Faith. Now here is a story!

The Cardinal describes a `dialogue of the deaf“ with the women of the LCWR. The deafness, he believes, comes from not wholeheartedly embracing the doctrinal assessment of the CDF and accepting the proposals for reform that are being presented to them.

In the short term, Levada said he would take as evidence that things are moving in the right direction if LCWR enters into “a sincere, cordial and open dialogue” with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, tapped by the Vatican to oversee the reform envisioned in the doctrinal assessment.

To date, Levada said, that hasn’t happened. 

Cardinal Levada also spoke openly about the possibility of the LCWR cutting their official ties with the Vatican.

So, the LCWR has chosen silence in order to pray, ponder, and dialogue among their membership before any statements or actions are taken. Theirs is a dignified approach. Cardinal Levada, meanwhile, has already put his opinions and musings into the limelight for all to see as if it was a fait accompli. And he has taken a very undignified dig at the sisters with his ‘dialogue of the deaf’ comment.

The story is far from over. My prayers and hopes are with the sisters that they will continue to face this challenge with grace, dignity, and faith in their communal wisdom. As to the deafness in the dialogue…may all ears and hearts be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

8 thoughts on “LCWR, Cardinal Levada and the dialogue of the deaf

  1. I think the Vatican and the bishops are making a big mistake with the sisters. Jesus never said “make sure you have correct doctrine”; rather he said “Follow me”. He taught us to take care of widows and orphans, to feed the hungry, to visit the imprisoned; and, “whatever you do for the least of these, you have done to me”. This is the gospel, this is what the sisters are about, and Catholics, as well as those from other traditions, see the gospel lived out in the lives of these sisters. With the mess that the Vatican and the bishops have created, believers everywhere are stunned by this attack on spirit of religious women.

  2. Hear, hear, Ray! I have a feeling that after the good Cardinal’s comments, the support for the sisters will only grow stronger.

  3. I have always been a practising catholic…
    Now, the pope’s henchmen who seek a smaller, more faithful church are turning me off… and away.
    I’ll always keep praying for my beloved Church, however…
    and I’ll always believe that the Holy Spirit is working harder and truer than these self-righteous and misguided…

    1. Tuesday, June 19, 2012
      When the LCWR invites Curran, Hubbard and Schneiders they are saying the Catholic Church is not the one true Church (UR 3) and every one does not need faith and baptism for salvation (AG 7)
      The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is rejecting Vatican Council II (AG 7) and the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.They are saying that the Catholic Church is not the sole moral authority.

      Statutes are approved of a religious organization which does not believe in exclusive salvation in the Catholic Church and the literal interpretation of the dogma ? The LCWR is Catholic even when it says invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire are explicit exceptions to the dogma ? Are these ‘exceptions’ not always implicit for the SSPX?

      I have mentioned on a blog that if you invite Charles Curran to speak you are telling us all what you believe. If you openly promote New Age you are telling us what you believe. In the case of the LCWR, they represent the Church and so they are saying that this is what the Church teaches. They are also saying that there is no exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church. When you invite Barbara Marx Hubbard your message is clear. You are saying that the Catholic Church is not the one true Church (UR 3, Vatican Council II) and all people do not need Catholic faith and the baptism of water for salvation (AG 7).Your also saying that there can be an interpretation of Vatican Council II which negates AG 7.

      If a Mother Superior of a community affiliated with the LCWR inquired if their community could hold the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus along with implicit baptism of desire and invincible ignorance etc in accord with Vatican Council II (AG 7), would the LCWR approve?

      They would be saying that all non Catholics in 2012 need to enter the Catholic Church for salvation and if there are any exceptions,’ who have not had the Gospel preached to them’ it would be known only to God.

      This is not the ecclesiology of the LCWR which is centered on Jesus and excludes the Church. So an LCWR member can believe in Jesus, according to the Jehovah Witnesses, distribute sacred pictures of Jesus as they do in Rome, and teach according to their religion and still consider oneself in the Catholic Church. This would be Jesus without the Catholic Church which the Bible tells us is His Mystical Body.The LCWR rejects exclusive ecclesiocentrism.
      The CDF could help the sisters by announcing that those saved in invincible ignorance and the baptisms of desire are implicit for us and only explicit for God.

      It is true that only those who know about Jesus and the Church and yet do not enter are oriented to Hell (LG 14) however we cannot judge that someone is really in invincible ignorance or someone is not. This judgement is left to God.The dogma and AG 7 says all need to convert into the Church for salvation.

      If anyone says Fr. Leonard Feeney was wrong for rejecting the baptism of desire they are making a mistake. The baptism of desire is not a known exception to the literal interpretation of the dogma.-Lionel Andrades

      1. Having speakers from different perspectives can be a way of helping to see things in a new way and perhaps shift something in you that is entrenched, attached or the illusionary- where there is something that blocks you from yourself and God. The sisters’ thinking when it is different from the Church, especially with the mess the bishops created around abuse of power issues, doesn’t make them wrong or abnormal it may make them sane.

        We need to be careful of having a spiritual fly-swatter; every new idea or experiment does not need to be automatically smacked down.

      2. The CDF is not the keeper of the Faith, the faith does not trickle down. From the earliest of times the Church believed in “sensum fidelis” where the wisdom of the Spirit comes from the faithful. Lionel, could you be defining God and Church in too narrow a way? Also, Feeney was a nut case.

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