Schneiders on Religious Life: Part I – important notes

In case you have not heard, the Vatican is currently investigating apostolic women’s religious communities in the United States. This investigation has generated a lot of emotional response from people of all sorts of points of view. From those already distrustful of Vatican authority, it has generated talk of resistance, while from those nostalgic for the past is has brought back all sorts of wistful recollections of wimples. I had not thought it helpful to engage in the controversy until I read an interesting series of articles beginning with this one last fall by Sr. Sandra Schneiders in National Catholic Reporter.  She highlighted for me some points that I think may be interesting to people who are not so attuned to church practices and customs, and might be wondering what all the fuss is about. I want to take a moment to highlight this week the helpful points that I took from her articles. I’ll return next week with what I think might be helpful to add to her analysis.

1. Acknowledgement that women religious worldwide and in the USA have suffered tremendously at the hands of men, and especially at the hands of men in authority in the church. Obviously, to any student of the history of western culture this should not be news. But it comes up again and again in Sr. Scheiders’ analysis, and it should not be passed over lightly. It is a fact that has to be acknowledged. The story of the Australian Bd. Mary MacKillop (soon to be declared a Saint) is the example with which I am most familiar. The short version is that she was excommunicated for a time because the local bishop did not think her sisters’ charism was genuine.

2. Recognition of apostolic religious life as a perennially challenging form of ministry in the church. The agonizing and at times church-rending debates among the early Franciscans are perhaps the most important instance of this that no one has ever heard of. The wild bands of “little brothers” who wandered the countryside in imitation of Francis were shocking and even debilitating to the Church. They were on the one hand what saved the Church from collapsing under the weight of wealth and power, while on the other hand, they nearly brought the church to its knees because of the chaos that they inspired through their obsession with Joachim of Fiore, denunciation of Church authority, quickness to take offense, and implication that anyone who tried to change them was by that very fact doing evil. The history of the Jesuits is likewise illuminating. Sr. Schneiders notes that we Jesuits were one of the first religious orders to have as part of our constitution the explicit freedom from horarium (common recitation of prayers, in our case, the divine office). This freedom was withdrawn early in our history by Pope Paul IV. We fought this Pope’s decision tooth and nail, but we also accepted and obeyed it, until it was granted once more by his successor.

What is there to say about these historical points? Simply that apostolic religious life is often dangerous and unstable. It places religious much more at the whims of the influence of the world, if they are not careful to retain a serious and vital life of prayer. Part of the question in the Vatican investigation is precisely whether orders that once practiced the horarium have a spirituality that can support leaving it behind.

3. The sense that apostolic sisters might be punished for not having many vocations. I think this is a crucial point: gobs of vocations are not always an indication of fidelity to a charism. This is especially notable in cloistered communities. If they rejected their charism and made things easier, it might increase vocations for a while, but it also would be a betrayal of who God has called them to be. Likewise, if (and this is a key “if”) apostolic womens’ communities are finally living the charism their founders were called to, and if they are living the renewal to which Vatican II called them, they might find that in fact (as is true for many of these communities) their numbers of new vocations decline dramatically.

Now, in weighing the different characteristics of an order, there is always the question of the “fruits” (“by their fruits you shall know them”). But it is often too easy to measure the fruits in terms of things you can number – including seeing people as numbers…  What Sr. Schneiders brings up powerfully in the article is a justification for apostolic women’s religious life that is free of habit, enclosure and regular common prayer. It strikes me that religious orders that lack all three are a genuine, and a much needed, charism in the Church. It also strikes me that this is a type of religious life that might appeal to, and be suited for, very few people. And that might be just fine – it might be God’s will.

It is worth noting that Cardinal Rodé, who ordered the current investigation, himself noted on Feb. 2 that an abundance of vocations is “not indispensable.” On the one hand, this seems to be true, and an acknowledgement that vocation numbers are not the only measurement of an order’s health. On the other it does make it seem that vocations will still be a significant measurement of the order when the Apostolic Visitation comes calling.

I mention here these points as truly important ones to consider as we look at all Catholic religious orders today, not only women’s orders. Can we acknowledge that women’s religious orders have suffered much in the Church? Can we recognize the importance of, and dangers of apostolic religious life? Can we avoid the pitfalls of judging orders merely by numbers of vocations? These are all crucial points that Sr. Schneiders raises. Yet all this being said, I also have a few reservations about Sr. Schneiders’ examination of Apostolic religious life. This is mostly focused on what she leaves out, rather than what she includes. I will report back next week with what I hope are some constructive thoughts.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing your comments about the points raised here. Please note that in light of the very strong emotions that this topic generates, we will be very carefully following our policy on comments. We demand genuine respect for all points of view. Charity must be the guide. Please refer to our “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) page for more info.

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30 Responses to Schneiders on Religious Life: Part I – important notes

  1. Well, Mike, interesting….so I look forward to
    Part 2: the Relatives (!)

    Hey, good job! It in my books is an issue
    transcending analysis, and is an Existential Phenomenon about which we can only look at,
    and learn from, since I posit it is the Holy Spirit
    that is behind all of our religious vocations
    (Priesthood, Brotherhood, Sisterhood) and not us.
    It is our pride, still, that thinks it controls
    these things, when it is not!

    All we are doing is cooperating with the Divine
    Plan. Whatever it is. We know little (from Revelation)
    and need to recognize what Cicero wrote long ago,
    that it is our tool of Rhetoric that creates our
    history, that is the engine of civilization.
    The rest is beyond us.

    Anyway, right after Vat.II, a new nuns Order sprang
    up, whose main purpose was to accept disenfranchised
    plus disaffected Sisters from any nuns Order, named
    “Sudden Spring: 6th Stage Sisters -Trends of Change
    in Catholic Sisterhoods” a sociological analysis,
    by Lillanna (Audrey) Kopp, Ph.D., SFCC.

    Not only was it rather unique reading, but I
    found myself meditating through it, because of its
    soulful nature, then, of both reading the signs of
    the times for Sisters, and their historical plight
    within the Patriarchal (to a fault!) Church: little
    if anything has changed. And where this Order is
    today, don’t ask me (!) But the book remains classic!

    If nothing else, the Holy Spirit got me into
    Lawrence Kohlberg big time, both personally and
    in Business, and I’ve never looked back: that little
    good she did accomplish. And I’m sure, much, much
    more!

    So, Mike, let’s hear the rest of it! And know I
    for one will enjoy your perusals of thought without
    any spiritual or faith concerns because for me this
    all is a factor of Mysticism, not of human
    intervention: all we’re doing always clumsily is
    merely trying to touch the finger of God. Some times
    we do. Some times we don’t. And He doesn’t care.
    As long as we’re trying. And we are!

    “I know not which is more childish: to deny God
    or to define Him!” – Samuel Butler

  2. Giovanni says:

    I find the first problem that you read a rag such as the National Catholic Reporter a publication of dubious repute one that is fully in line with the quasi-heretical publication of America Magazine again another entity that has publicly promoted dissent from Catholic teaching.

    I will not answer the points you raised one by one but rather summarize my response all at once.

    “It is irrelevant.”

    In the history of the Church some of its greatest Saints have been treated as enemies to the faith a perfect example of this would be St. Ignatious him self. His religious exercises were not welcomed with open arms but rather looked upon with suspicion. However his reaction to this was not to wine and complain and write long treatises about the historical unfairness of the Church (that was they way of certain Martin Luther) on the contrary his reaction was to submit and to obey.

    Let us of course also at the same time not turn a blind eyes to the out right abusive, corrosive and destructive nature of whats going on with these so called Catholic organizations. To a great degree they represent what is so wrong with the Church in the United States. (I will not get in to specifics now expecting the second part of this discussion)

    So though her points may be historically accurate her analysis factual and her experience difficult it comes down to the Church and those that claim to be part of it for their every action is a witness to the Faith.

  3. “I find the first problem that you read a rag…” Giovanni, please be a little more respectful. How you can instantly judge that someone has a problem for reading the NCR when you have no idea why they read it, that is simply to jump to conclusions. Ignatius also in those Exercises you decide to invoke told us to put the best interpretation on the other. In this case, Mike was reading for information, not agree with everything he has ever read in the NCR. Thanks.

  4. Ryan says:

    Interesting post. I agree that vocations aren’t necessarily a sign of the importance of an order’s mission or vitality and that just as charisms may die, new ones may arise.
    My problem, however, is with sisters, who as consecrated religious display a very important prominent part of the face of the Church to the world and publicly dissent from the Church’s teachings. While we each have our doubts and must confront them, I think that many sisters, and priests for that matter, ought to have a greater awareness of the sin of scandal and the weakening effect of public attacks on the Church. To me, the question is one of Catholic identity. One does not become a religious to promote a political agenda, rather one becomes a religious because it is one’s specific way of serving God. While the two may intersect, promoting an agenda contrary to Church teachings (not even the individual policies of bishops , but rather issues defined by the Magisterium) is shameful and divisive.

    • Qualis Rex says:

      I LOVE that! I think too many people forget or play down the power and impact that women religious have as the “face” of the church. For many common people, especially in the 3rd world, a nun may be the first (if not ONLY) contact with the church. We RELY on such people to teach, champion and spread the gospel, and this simply cannot be done properly if there is any agenda higher than God’s.

  5. Jeff Johnson SJ says:

    Thanks, Mike for a thought provoking post. Might I remind people who will want to comment to read the last paragraph of Mike’s post. Keep it civil, or the comment will not be posted. Try as best you can to address the points in the post. If you want to go off on a tangent, get your own blog. 🙂 Peace.

  6. Justin from Ohio says:

    I posted another lengthy comment that wasn’t approved and I understand why. But rather than alter that previous comment to allow it to be approved, I’ll instead just say that I was trying to make the exact same points that Ryan makes much more succintly in his post above.

    The basic problem is one of Truth and Authority.

    The Church and the Pope/Bishops (through Apostolic Succession) were given the authority to define Truth by Christ. Many of these women’s religous orders don’t believe in that authority or don’t submit to it or don’t think they’re bound by it. Such dissent only hurts the Church and confuses the laity. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    One of the more egregious examples of the heterodox thinking of some of these orders and their leaders was when Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink gave an address at the 2007 LCWR convention and said she thought the future of some orders involved “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus.” I think she was applauded and praised for such thought. This shows that this kind of thinking is rampant in many orders which are members of the LCWR. See the following link for more details:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/women_religious_leadership_conference_faces_investigation_for_continued_problems/

    I simply don’t know how statements like this can be defended as falling anywhere within the acceptable realm of Catholic discussion or thought.

    Hopefully this is sufficiently charitable and measured in tone so as to be approved for posting. Sorry about my previous post, but I get a little fired up about the damage I think many of these current leaders of women religous have done to the Church and to their orders in the eyes of many devout, orthodox Catholics. I think the Vatican and many U.S. bishops agree….hence the investigation/visitation.

    • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

      Justin, thanks for understanding about your previous post, and thanks for writing a new one that is charitable and on-point.
      I do agree that there is a significant problem with the question of authority in the Church these days. I also agree that “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus” goes beyond what I understand as the truth. Of course, these issues are surely not limited to women religious, so I think that the very helpful part of Sr. Schneiders’ work is to highlight the sense that many sisters have of being picked out for criticism. This sense is of course, only heightened when we view this current situation in light of the often sad history of relationships between women religious and church authority. I say this not to excuse statements that go too far, but by way of noting just how many deeply faithful and prayerful women religious there are. The beauty and authenticity of their lives can often be slandered by a quickness to judge. So I suppose part of what I’m saying is that we need to be clear about what the problems are, yet also acknowledge how much good is even now being done by so many women religious.
      Again, thanks for your comment. in Christ,
      Michael

      • Justin from Ohio says:

        Thank you and I totally agree there is so much good being done by so many women religious today. I will be sure not to generalize in the future, but instead to point out specific instances (like Sister Laurie Brink) above.

        Anyone interested in the future of women religious (especially in the U.S.) should be sure to watch Oprah this coming Tuesday, February 9, 2010, as she is profiling the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, including having several sisters as guests on her set. I’m pretty sure this order is quite different from the Sisinawa Dominicans.

  7. Qualis Rex says:

    Hello Michael, good thought-provoking post. I’d like to take a shot at commenting to your points:

    1. This is too broad and general a statement, akin to saying “children have suffered tremendously at the hands of their parents” or “citizens have suffered tremendously at the hands of their government”. First, if you are trying to indicate that there has been a concerted effort by men in authority in the church to make women religious suffer (consciously or unconsciously) I’d need some more facts here. Also, the wording “suffer tremendously” is entirely subjective. In my ultra-liberal archdiocese, I and many others have been verbally berated and ridiculed by “men in authority” within the church for humbling requesting the Tridentine mass (before Summorum Pontificum) and our requests were always refused/dismissed/ignored. Was this repression? Yes. Was this a conscious effort? Yes. Would I say I “suffered tremendously”? ^eh^… So, I guess I’d need to know what type of suffering we’re talking about here.

    2. Yes, agreed. Absolutely.

    3. Extra points for you here for using “gobs of vocations” which I never thought I’d see in a sentence : ) I already made the point that I do not feel vocations, or Catholicism in general is a numbers game. But I will say there is definitely a cause and effect at work here. Religious orders used to have a very distinct identity from public society; visibly (habbit), structurally (communalism) and behaviorally (prayer life). As you alluded to, if you take these three elements away, there is really nothing to separate a “religious” order from, say an individual who is simply interested in spirituality.

    [1 paragraph removed in consultation with comment author]

    There is an old Sicilian saying, “Cu s’ammuccia socu fa, e’ signu ca mali fa” roughly translated as “whoever hides what they are doing is probably doing something bad.” The visitations are definitely, without a doubt a good thing. At the very least, in the nebulous, all-purposing “spirit of Vatican II”, they are opening the windows and bringing transparency to these orders.

  8. Justin from Ohio says:

    Excellent post, Qualis Rex.

    I especially agree with your points on:

    1. The Orders losing their uniqueness, distinctiveness, or what made them different from society (for example: there are some religious sisters that, other than their vows and official membership in a religious order, don’t really do anything differently or even look any different than my wife, who is employed as a social worker. The nuns even wear the same types of clothes as my wife does when entering poor neighborhoods (jeans, sweatshirts, etc.).

    2. Your best point is that many of the sisters seem “to delight in the scandal it brings.” Their charism, their reason for being, is focused primarily on fighting and resisting the Church, and on vehemently disagreeing with some of the oldest and most basic Church teachings.

  9. Justin from Ohio says:

    One final point…in regard to “suffering tremendously”…I think we need some perspective here.

    Suffering, especially in the Catholic Church, especially being emphasized as “tremendous,” is usually seem more along the lines of Christ (tortured and nailed to a cross) and the many saints and martyrs (eaten alive by lions, burned alive, etc.). St. Edmund Campion “suffered tremendously” when he was hanged, drawn and quartered. A religious sister being told that they should obey and submit to Church authority is not “suffering tremendously.” There’s a big difference.

    When viewed through that lens, no amount of real or perceived injustices by the men in the Church hierarchy toward women religious can be seen as true “tremendous suffering.”

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Thanks, Justin. And yes, I think we can agree that “suffered tremendously” is pretty subjective, especially when compared to the suffering of the martyrs. On a personal level, I tend to shy away from long arguments with people who are prone to hyperbole in order to make a point (my least favorite is “just like Hitler!”) since I’ve found such people base their views on emotion rather than reason.

  10. Mark says:

    I believe the best measure that ‘should’ be used here is simply fidelity to the Church and Her teaching. Dissent should not be tolerated – especially, if it is willful and consistent over time.

  11. therese says:

    Ok, if you’re going to discuss how women have been treated in the Church, it seems like you might like a woman to comment:
    1. Thank you for your acknowledgement that women have been assigned the back seat on the bus for years. This inquiry by the Vatican may have been totally avoidable if women had just simply been asked their opinions about things in the Church during the roaring ’50s. The post-Vatican II melee didn’t happen in a vacuum.

    2. That said, the Road to Holiness has always been just as open to women as to men in the Church…maybe more so because that road (aka Following Jesus) is always & necessarily the most hidden, the most looked down upon and usually to be found at the back of the bus.

    3. #2 above doesn’t excuse #1 in the eyes of the Lord.

    4. #1 above doesn’t give Sister S et al a platform to avoid #2. Much much harm has been done during the last 40 years in just my own family by nuns (& priests) who use their Church-blessed status to tell us that we don’t really have to worry about that (usually related to pelvic issues) being a sin because the Church doesn’t really teach that blah blah

    5. With all due respect, I have to challenge the writers of this blog to practice what they preach & seriously answer Maria’s comment on the ProLife March post that Nathan put up a week ago. The comments were very interesting but none of them seriously addressed her issues re: Nathan’s statement that Jesuits are prolife while their educational institutions’ policies don’t seem to reflect that. If your intent is to take what women say seriously, and I believe it is, please seriously address her concerns. Citing the late Fr R Drinian as an example just isn’t doing that.

    PS: re: Billy’s comment in that thread, simply not addressing the elephant in the room shouldn’t scare away any truly-called young Jesuit. The Truth can easily stand on its own in the face of any scrutiny.

    • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

      Dear Therese,
      Thanks so much for your comments, especially because you are a woman! My own sister noticed the same thing: for a post about women, it seems like men are doing most of the talking.
      In general, I think I agree with much of what you say in points 1-4. If the church were listening to women earlier, there would not have been the pent-up sense of frustration and anger on the part of many women that we still see today. But as you also say, that fact need not serve as an excuse.
      As for #5, I have to say that we can’t get sidetracked into answering for every action of every Jesuit institution across the country. It also is not helpful to bring it up in the comment thread of a different post! Please help us to keep comments focused on the question at hand.
      Thanks for your comments. in Christ,
      Michael

  12. Mason Slidell says:

    One of the common reactions I have noted among the women religious is the general skepticism of the visitation’s purpose. And that skepticism is not unwarrented. The decree from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which can be found at the visitation’s website, simply orders such a visitation without an explanation of the cause. There is no doubt a cause; after all, a visitation is not a routine occurrence. Why can’t the Vatican be transparent in delineating and explaining that cause? The “cloak and dagger” method of Vatican investigations is growing ever more childish, at least in appearance. Why the secrecy in reasoning and judgment? I think American women religious have a legitimate concern here and to ignore it is to the detriment of whatever the Vatican hopes to accomplish.

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Actually, what’s childish is applying the “cloak and dagger” analogy to men of God who are not out to commit any sort of violence or malice. If you are Catholic, you may want to humbly ask yourself who are you to dictate how the visitations should or shouldn’t be carried out? Are you God? No? Well, are you the vicar of Christ? No? Really?? Are you a bishop with valid apostolic succession? No??? Well, are you at the absolute very least someone who has lived their life in a religious community and has first-hand knowledge of the inner-workings of these processes and reasons for them? If that last answer is a big fat “no” as well, maybe it’s time to remember there are people who have dedicated their entire lives to serving the church and might have just a teensy bit more insight as to how to handle this than you.

      Cafeteria clausa est!!!

      • Mason Slidell says:

        So since I’m not God nor an ordained minister of God, my argument is invalid from the start and should be dismissed in totality. That is your response. The non-God and non-ordained are to be completely silent. Really? A very silly response.

      • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

        Qualis,
        This type of response to a composed comment is irresponsible. To imply that someone who asks for an investigation to be more transparent is making himself God is out of line. Disagreement is fine, but this sort of pounding the cyber-table with reductiones ad absurdum cannot continue.

        My apologies for the public chastisement. I hope you understand.
        In Christ,
        Michael

    • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

      Mason – Thanks for your comment. I agree that there is an inequality in the transparency requested in the investigation. As you say, there has not been a statement of the cause. Generally, I think the visitation could still be very helpful, but I think it might have been far more helpful if it had been handled more delicately from the start, taking into account history like my point #1 above, and indeed if it had demonstrated a greater sensitivity to the charisms of the orders in question.
      in Christ,
      Michael

  13. Henry says:

    Michael,

    Being snowed in has given me the opportunity to check the blog and post a response to your thought-provoking post.

    I commend you on your willingness to tackle this emotional minefield and I look forward to part 2. Since many of the things I wanted to say have been beautifully said by others, this gives me the opportunity to offer a some random comments that build on what has been said so far and I offer them with the hope that they might contribute to the dialogue. If you judge that they won’t, please don’t bother to post them!

    Regarding point 1: A scene – or rather the dialogue from a scene – from the movie “The Shoes of the Fisherman” – clearly demonstrates that ALL can, do, and will suffer at the hands of men (or women) in authority whether in the Church or not.

    I am specifically thinking of the scene when Pope Kiril Lakota tells Fr. David Telemond that he has been silenced. It’s a very dramatic scene which, for me, expresses the frustration we have had, or will one day have, when confronted with the scandal of the Church. Specifically I am thinking of what Fr. David says after receiving the news that he is to be silenced: “… I hate Her, and yet I can’t leave Her; I love Her, and yet I can’t live in Her in peace.”
    What am I referring to when I talk about the “scandal of the Church”? I am referring to the fact that God Himself willingly accepts the fact that His message, His communication, is incarnated in the limited, dense, sinful, beautiful, loving and open human temperament of those that make up the Church. But that to me is not that real scandal, no, the real scandal is that this fact constitutes a condition which God willingly accepts! And thus, no matter what the temperament of an individual successor of the Apostles (or his delegate) the power of God passes through the “conditioning” of that man He has chosen to lead His Church.

    I bring this up because it is obvious to me that any objection to or judgment of the Church that’s based on human conduct is often formulated on the basis of erroneous premises.

    Regarding point 2: The only thing I’d like to say is that without a concrete daily experience of Christ as satisfaction, all of us, not just religious, will willingly embrace the influence of the world precisely because Christ will merely be a consolation prize. For the elementary needs of the heart (the need for love, happiness, truth, justice, etc.) are, in a sense, “infallible” for they unrelentingly drive us to seek their satisfaction. That’s why, in order for us to live as people without a homeland – as we are called to do – the Faith must truly satisfy and not be something just made of words.

    Regarding your reference to a spirituality, in my opinion, a spirituality is just a tool for sequela, a sequela based on a relationship of love with a real living Person and thus any tool can and should be discarded if it does not foster this relationship of love.

    Regarding point 3: Great analysis.

    Again, I am looking forward to part 2 and I will post again when I can.

    Pax and good night,

    Henry

    • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

      Henry –
      As usual, thanks for the erudite and thought-provoking comments. To me they lead to important questions about how we deal with the grace and challenge of living in the present, earthly Church that is both the bride of Christ and composed of poor shortsighted humans. I also greatly appreciate your notes on point 2 – namely that these human needs are basic, and the influence of the world grows insofar as we fail to find the answer to those needs in Christ.
      Thanks again. in Christ,
      Michael

  14. Giovanni says:

    Error has no rights, Mason.

    • Michae! Magree, SJ says:

      But of course, erring humans do have rights. Or rather, as I prefer to put it, we have duties toward those who err, including choosing the most effective means to bring them back from error.

  15. Therese says:

    RE: Maria’s unanswered concerns in the “Jesuits are Prolife” post:
    Another example of the facts which seem to belie that assertion:

    Presenting at the Catholic Social Gathering sponsored by the USCCB today will be:

    -Fr. Thomas Reese, who was forced to resign as editor of America Magazine by the Vatican for his refusal to stop publishing articles which question church orthodoxy on issues like contraception, human embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, homosexual priests, mandatory clerical celibacy, and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be given communion

    -Diana Hayes, professor of systematic theology at Georgetown University and noted speaker for Call to Action, the “Catholic” dissident group. Hayes is a homosexuality activist who wrote a book espousing liberation theology, calls for women’s ordination and promotes same-sex “marriage.”

  16. Wow Qualis. Thank God we had a Catherine of Siena who could publicly correct the pope without you shutting her down. Some of those “men of God” make mistakes now and then you know.

  17. JF says:

    I look forward to seeing part 2 of this post if only for the purpose of gaining a greater insight to your position in the matter. for now it seems merely to be a nebulous kind of observation rather than opinion. As one who is considering the call to the religious life as a brother opposed to a priest my observation is that from the get go one should be keenly aware of the three vows of poverty chastity and obedience. as one who is approaching this vocation either as a male or female one must be aware of these vows. I accept them willingly and even embrace them. Sr. Sandra Schneider I suspect has issue with this. I say this not as any form of slander, but an observation based on her talks with the LCWR. In particular her talks regarding “sojourning” as a viable option for religious communities. As such I find her perspectives at best subject to further scrutiny. If one is unwilling to commit to these vows (and again no assumptions made on the part of Sr Schneider, just a mere observation) there are plenty of good and charitable organizations that engage in the same work that nuns and brothers do that do not have the same required vows. I would much rather see a person find their vocation in the laity than see them suffer under vows they were not called to. this presents a more viable option: to realize the church within the world as opposed to going (as Sr. Schneider puts it) “beyond the church” and “Beyond Jesus”. It’s not oppression if you knew what you were getting into before you signed up.

    • JF says:

      as an addendum to those notes. given the opinion of Sr. Schneider and her speech to the LCWR, I think the Vatican has a valid concern in sending out an investigation. If the LCWR allows for her “Soujourning” comments as valid, the church has good reason to know how much of American woman’s religious share such an opinion, and have the authority to do it. This would apply whether it is a male or female religious making these comments. I personally find it quite offensive when people hide behind the cloak of political correctness and identity politics to mask the fact that they have a dissenting opinion. it makes those who may actually have legitimate concerns go unheard. rather than take this as a matter of patriarchal church vs submissive women, let us focus on the issue that is most resonant: truth.

  18. Michae! Magree, SJ says:

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. In order to take a break from the passions of this subject, we have decided to close comments on this post.

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