Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Doctrinal Assessment for Leadership Conference of Women Religious - Having Standards

I read that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is going through a doctrinal assessment. It's not in mainstream news, as far as I've seen, but my guess is that it will be in the near future.

Particularly since
  1. The doctrinal assessment comes on top of the Vatican-initiated apostolic visitation of institutes for women religious in the United States
  2. The Catholic Church has standards
    • And is starting to apply them in America
I may be wrong about this, but I think a possible - maybe probable - outcome of this doctrinal assessment will be claims of persecution.

Maybe even conspiracy theories about how the Holy See is trying to squash 'democratic' voices in the American Church.

And, of course, the tired old 'Christianity oppresses women' thing. It's a little hard for me to see an outfit whose founder's mother told him where, when, and how to perform his first miracle (John 2, 1-10); that honors St. Catherine of Siena and St. Thérèse (or Therese) of Therese of Lisieux as a doctors of the church1; and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta2, as "oppressing" women.

The Catholic Church Has Standards - And the Door's Open

I have no idea how that LCWR doctrinal assessment will come out. Either the LCWR will be found to be in line with Catholic doctrine, or it won't. If there's been do-it-yourself theology going on, it'll be identified.

At that point, my guess is that the LCWR leadership will have a choice between hanging on to their version of what they think God and the Church should be like, or going along with the Holy See.

Authoritarian? Yes. But, the door's open. Both ways. I was able to become a Catholic: and anybody who wants to can stop being a Catholic. I wouldn't recommend it, but it can be done.

Me, I'm glad to see that the Holy See is paying attention to what's been going on in America, and is carefully applying standards.

Related posts: In the news:
1I generally use Princeton's WordNet for definitions of possibly-unfamiliar terms. In this case, WordNet has the tail wagging the dog:

"Doctor of the Church (Roman Catholic Church) a title conferred on 33 saints who distinguished themselves through the orthodoxy of their theological teaching".

The doctors' teaching is orthodox, all right: but that's partly because they smoothed out rough patches in Church teachings. Whoever put together the Wikipedia entry had a better handle on what "doctor of the church" means.

"...In Roman Catholicism, this title is given to a saint from whose writings the whole Church is held to have derived great advantage and to whom 'eminent learning' and 'great sanctity' have been attributed by a proclamation of a pope or of an ecumenical council. This honour is given rarely, only posthumously, and only after canonization. No ecumenical council has yet exercised the prerogative of proclaiming a Doctor of the Church...." (Doctor of the Church Wikipedia)

I can't blame the Princeton WordNet for getting it a bit backwards. America was a solidly Protestant country: It's no surprise that an assumption or two here and there, from that tradition, gets confused with fact.

2. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is up for canonization - being declared a saint.


Brigid said...

"And, of course, the tired old 'Christianity oppresses women' thing. It's a little hard for me to see an outfit whose founder's mother told him where, when, and how to perform his first miracle (John 2, 1-10); that honors St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Thérèse (or Therese) of Therese of Lisieux as a doctors of the church1; and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta2."

Might want to look at this paragraph again. That last sentence seems rather incomplete.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


Right you are. And, corrected. I also caught a code problem in links to those footnotes.

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