According to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the Vatican is allowing the planned conference to go forward in spite of the fact that the group's annual assemblies were said to be a "serious source of scandal" by Church authorities.
In a brief phone interview last week with Sr. Annmarie Sanders, LCWR's associate director for communications and a board member of the NCR, the NCR was told that LCWR leadership and Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the congregation that ordered the group’s reform, have "mutually agreed" that the assembly will continue as planned.
Even the liberal NCR reports that this year's lineup of speakers "could still raise eyebrows."
The conference, to be held in St. Louis from August 7-10, will host Barbara Marx Hubbard as the keynote speaker. Hubbard, an author and promoter of a new worldview called "conscious evolution" will speak on "What does it mean for you to be a leader in these evolutionary times."
In the explanation of Conscious Evolution that she includes on her website, Hubbard writes: "Although we may never know what really happened, we do know that the story told in the Gospels is that Jesus’ resurrection was a first demonstration of what I call the post-human universal person. We are told that he did not die. He made his transition, released his animal body, and reappeared in a new body at the next level of physicality to tell all of us that we would do what he did. The new person that he became had continuity of consciousness with his life as Jesus of Nazareth, an earthly life in which he had become fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ life stands as a model of the transition from Homo sapiens to Homo universalis."
Hubbard also believes that this new "Universal Human" will be the key to the survival of the species. "The Universal Human is connected through the heart to the whole of life, evolving consciously and helping to co-create a new world to live in," she said during a March 12 address at Meditation Mount in Ojai, California.
She has also launched a bizarre campaign that mimics the Christian feasts of the Annunciation and Christmas by staging a Conception Day 2012 on March 22 to mark the beginning of a nine-month period of preparation culminating on "our first Planetary Birth Day" of December 22 – the day after the Mayan calendar runs out and believed by some to be the end of the world. Hubbard bills the event as "a day that leaders around the world are declaring Day One of a new era for human evolution."
According to conference registration materials, Hubbard will address the LCWR on how to discern the future of religious life in a way “that remains open to the new levels of consciousness, even as that revelation exceeds the boundaries of present day understanding of one’s faith, as well as the charism and mission of one’s institute.”
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders, a well-known dissident who was described by Catholic author Mary Jo Anderson as a "post-Christian with a Catholic veneer" who has questioned everything from Scripture to Jesus, is expected to receive an award for outstanding leadership at the conference.
Thomas L. McDonald, writing for Patheos, called Hubbard's ideas "weapons-grade crazy" and the fact that the LCWR chose her for a keynote address speaks volumes about the problems inside the organization.
"This is plain heresy. It’s bad science, bad psychology, bad philosophy, and, most certainly, bad religion," McDonald writes.
"So do you still have any questions about the need for oversight of the LCWR?"
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