Dissident Nuns Consider Severing Ties with Vatican

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

In the wake of the Vatican’s move to clean up the dissention in the ranks of the leaders of women religious in the U.S., the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR) is considering letting go of its canonical recognition to become a voluntary organization.

According to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the LCWR is conducting a “prayerful” meeting this week to determine how to respond to the recent directive from the Vatican to revise its dissenting positions and place itself under the guidance of an archbishop.

In spite of years of dissension, the group still claims to be “shocked” by the directive and to not understand why it was handed down.

Sr. Teresa Kane of the Sisters of Mercy, the same nun who boldly approached Pope John Paul II in 1979 to ask why women can’t be priests, told the NCR that although she is uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their canonical status, she also sees the wisdom in considering this approach.

” . . . (I)f we were to really do a discernment on this to decide if it’s more harmful to continue as a pontifical organization or not, we may say it is — that it’s taking too much energy, its taking too much time, or we’re misdirecting our energies from the service of people.

“I wouldn’t not want to look at it, but I don’t find myself saying that should be our position because I think there are forces in the Vatican and the hierarchy that would be happy if we did it. I really do.”

Sr. Teresa says she definitely does not want to see the group remove themselves from their current status as a thorn in the Vatican’s side.

“I’ve been in LCWR since 1970. So I’m in the organization 40 years. I’m not sure that I want it to go that quickly. I really don’t. They actually could have taken it away if they wanted to. After five years, that may be part of their plan. But who knows? Between now and then there’s much of divine intervention and divine providence that can come along,” she said.

During this same interview, Sr. Teresa waged the same disingenuous argument being used by many other dissident nuns who insist that the Vatican just “doesn’t appreciate what nuns do.” They prefer to manipulate the public rather than telling the truth – that the order was directed at only the dissident leadership of women religious, not the rank and file.

Speaking about Vatican officials as well as the U.S. bishops, Sr. Teresa said, “It just seems to be a real blockage. It’s almost as if they really do not like us. And don’t appreciate what we’ve done. And don’t see the value and the wisdom to what sisters have been doing all these years.”

She goes on to blame everything on the fact that the Vatican hates women.

“I really think it is a gender issue here. It is a matter of the men in the Vatican still thinking they can control the women, especially control the women religious because we are pontifical and we are canonical. And they don’t realize that we have moved to another whole point of tremendous equality and mutuality. And that we have much to say about our future and what’s going on.”

She closed the interview with the same issue she’s been raising for 30 years – womens ordination.

“We’re calling for full participation of women in the church. That means that women have to fully participate and have an equal voice. I don’t see that reflected in this whole direction. I do think that’s a very serious problem.”

In the meantime, the LCWR has said that their meetings this week will be conducted  in an “atmosphere of prayer, contemplation and dialogue” and that it “plans to move slowly, not rushing to judgment.”

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12 Response to “Dissident Nuns Consider Severing Ties with Vatican

  1. There was a time when obedience was erected as virtue in the Roman Catholic Church. This time looks outdated in the eyes of some of her sons _and daughters.
    But another virtue still is remaining alive in the Church: That of freedom.
    Indeed, the Church’s doors are wide open to the dissenters. Nobody will hold them back. Nobody will condemn them.
    Because there is no choice between the truth and the community. No wonder if the community shall be reduced, the truth must be always placed first. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit leads the Christ’s flock through the infallible guidance of the Pope and the voice of the Magisterium.

    Only in that way our holy Mother the Church will go through the 3rd millenary like She went through the last 2 ones

  2. Well it’s about time! At least, by severing ties with Rome, they’re (kinda) being honest for once. If one is a “dissenting Catholic,” well, no, that one is no longer a Catholic but is now a PROTESTANT. Why don’t these women just up and join the Episcopalians for crying out loud?!?

  3. How can it be “prayerful discernment” when they don’t appear to want to accept any direction except where THEY want to go, not where the Holy Spirit wants them to go?

    I can cite dozens, if not hundreds, of examples in the lives of holy women where they were ordered by their priests and bishops to do things they didn’t want to do, and they obeyed. And though it may have taken more time than they wanted, because of their obedience G_D fulfilled their lives and missions in ways that they could not have foreseen (including the repentance of many of those priests and bishops, which would not have happened had the women religious been disobedient.)

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  5. When we serve the poor and disobey the Church and the Pope, we make ourselves the measure of all things, and we leave the Hand of the Infinite and become slaves of our own finiteness, our petty senses and we become poorer and more pitiful than the poorest ones we serve.

    When works of mercy lead to self-idolatry, self-promotion, self-righteousness, then we no longer serve God but our own self, our own proud name and the name of the Evil one. When works of mercy is performed without true humility, then we become boastful, proud, self-important, and rebellious. We no longer obey, and are no longer faithful to Our Holy Mother Church and Our Holy Father the Pope.

    Remember, on our own we are nothing and by ourselves we can do nothing. When we do works of mercy, it is not we, but God who does in us. Remember, Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Our Holy Mother Church – but the gates of Hell will surely prevail against those who willingly dissent and rebel against the Church and the Pope. Remember who was the first to willingly dissent, rebel and to disobey. Remember the consequences of that disobedience. Remember, Jesus was obedient unto death – a death on the Cross!

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