Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin has banned two Dominican nuns from holding workshops or providing spiritual direction at any Catholic churches in the diocese because of their espousal of “New Ageism” and “indifferentism.”
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, an internal memo from Bishop Morlino to diocesan priests that was leaked to the press stated that Sisters Maureen McDonnell and Lynn Lisbeth, both Sinsinawa Dominicans working at a retreat center known as Wisdom’s Well, have diverged too far from Catholic teaching. In the memo, Morlino expresses his “grave concerns” about the women’s teachings, saying that they “espouse certain views” which flow from the New Age movement as well as from indifferentism, which is the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another.
The women “may not share an authentic view of the Catholic Church’s approach to interreligious dialogue,” the memo said.
“Wisdom’s Well” which is described on its website as an interfaith center, claims to be in support of “those who desire to grow spiritually, seek inner wisdom, and yearn for a transformative spirituality.” Its mission statement says the center is “grounded in the Christian tradition, while embracing the wisdom found in other religious traditions.”
Some of the programs offered at the center include workshops on Centering Prayer, nonviolence and contemplative living.
A spokeswoman for the Sinisawa Dominicans released a statement saying that McDonnell and Lisbeth are “respected and valued members” of the order, and that they have been dedicated to religious life and preaching the Gospel for nearly 50 years. The Sinsinawa Dominicans “wholeheartedly support our sisters and hold them in prayer as we continue our mission of participating in the building of a holy and just church and society,” the statement said.
Buxton went on to say that their order, which has 521 sisters, has never faced a prohibition like this before.
A statement from the diocese explains that the prohibition against the sisters came only after the matter was “patiently and prudently” investigated. It went on to say that when the diocese sought clarification from the sisters, their response “proved insufficient and inconclusive to resolve grave concerns.”