Monday, April 23, 2012

Commentary on Vatican Attack on LCWR and on Jenky's Tirade: A Selection of Articles

Some recent commentary to which I want to draw readers' attention, about 1) the Vatican mandate that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the U.S. be "reformed"; and 2) the incendiary remarks of Peoria bishop Daniel Jenky about the current U.S. president.  I've blogged about both topics in recent days (herehere, and here):

1. At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl provides a valuable account of what's going on with and what's at stake in the crackdown of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on the LCWR--with abundant documentation.  She also notes an interesting piece of information I haven't seen elsewhere: this is that Archbishop Sartain of Seattle, who has been appointed to oversee the LCWR "reform" process, has a sister, Marian Sartain, who is Secretary-General of the Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, a congregation that belongs to the competing and much more conservative Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.  The latter group is in competition with LCWR, that is, and represents the small but influential (in the Vatican and with the bishops) cadre of American nuns who want to return religious life to "traditional" models.

Rebel Girl wonders if the Sartain family connections don't represent a conflict of interest for the archbishop as he undertakes his charge now.  Of course, it's entirely possible he was chosen precisely because of his sister's high profile in the Council of Major Superiors, and in matters having to do with the Catholic hierarchy, what's a conflict of interest here and a blatant violation of elemental norms of justice there, when the group mandating the "reform" of others refuses in any way at all to reform itself?

2.  At the Catholic Sensibility blog, Todd Flowerday finds Ewoks lurking in the bishops' script for LCWR, along with the possibility of pyrrhic victory for the bishop and the pom-pom Catholics now cheering them on.  And if those provocative phrases don't spur you to read his exceptionally fine commentary, I don't know what will.  The pom-pom folks: Flowerday points, as I did in a previous posting, to the big "Heck yeah" one of the rah-rah set issued at Commonweal's blog site when the news came down that the men in frilly gowns have gone after the women in pants, to quote Tom Fox's fine analysis of the LCWR-CDF situation this weekend at NCR.

Flowerday thinks the hierarchy, and the pope himself, are near the brink of the falls with the attack on LCWR, and I hope he's right.  But as I noted on Sunday, my own inkling about what's going on with this manufactured controversy is that it's one among several plots cooked up by the super-rich handlers of the hierarchy, in collusion with the hierarchy, to nudge enough low-information Catholics into the Republican voting tallies in the fall to put the GOP into the White House.

I think, frankly, that neither the pope nor the rest of the hierarchy care a whit about whether the unity of the church is damaged in the process, or about doing serious injustice to religious women.  The prize is the White House, and control of the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.  They'll do anything to win that prize, including painting hard-working, faithful women who have sacrificed much for the church for many years as disobedient, far-out witches to play to the low-information Catholic voters in swing states for whom the theater is being staged.  Justice, charity, the good of the church: these have long since left the radar screen of the current hierarchical leaders.

What counts for the Catholic hierarchy right now is, frankly, $$$$$.  And power, since the two go hand in hand and the lust for one always bleeds into lust for the other.

3. At Talk to Action yesterday, Frank Cocozzelli notes the serious disconnect between the USCCB under the leadership of the warm and charming (per Time magazine) Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the American Catholic faithful.  Frank thinks the end result of rants like the one Bishop Jenky recently issued against President Obama will be to assure a smaller, purer church with less moral influence in the secular sphere than it has had in generations. 

Frank thinks this is exactly what the warm and charming cardinal and his confreres want, and he concludes, 

The president is not disdainful of Catholic Americans.  If anything, he is pursuing policies that most Catholics support.  If anybody is not listening to American Catholics it is the culture warriors in the hierarchy who serve as role models.  Chief among these is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. 
The end result of such polarizing rhetoric and political behavior may be a smaller Church with less actual influence, smaller attendance and perhaps a forfeited tax-exempt status. 
But many in the hierarchy and other influential leaders say that smaller but purer is exactly what they want.

And Frank is right.  And Time is spectacularly mendacious in its bought-and-paid-for portrayal of the USCCB leader--as many thinking and informed American Catholics are strongly aware.

4. And finally, Huffington Post reports last Friday on the voices of some of those real-life American Catholics who decidedly don't support Jenky--and who want him off the board of Notre Dame University, on which he sits.  As this article notes, members of the faculty at Notre Dame have circulated a petition calling for Jenky's resignation from the university's board.

But in the list of signatories, I don't spot either the name of one significant Commonweal Catholic who went on national t.v. in recent months to talk about the USCCB's faux religious liberty war (but who never mentioned that large percentage of Catholics who reject the magisterium's position on birth control) or one who has recently written about how forgetting the church is forgetting Jesus.  Which is interesting to me, particularly since the movers and shakers of Commonweal are still rambling on about how Planned Parenthood is the biggest threat possible to Catholic values, and about the sanctity of a just-fertilized ovum, while they continue to remain totally silent--absolutely silent--about what the bishops are doing and have done for some time now to their real-life and already born brothers and sisters who happen to be LGBT.  Or, for that matter, about what the bishops are doing and have done for a long time now to their brothers and sisters who have survived sexual abuse by priests when they were children.

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