This past Mon.(4/23/12) the Albany Times Union on its editorial page reprinted a Washington Post entry by Melinda Henneberger titled: “Vatican’s Mixed Message” i.e. her interpretation of the very recent “Doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious”. Is it news that the author’s evaluation was negative? Is it news that the media in general tends any chance it gets to put a negative interpretation on any directive coming from Rome? What is especially dismaying is recurrence of intellectual (if that is the correct word) dishonesty in the reporting. First of all the assessment is aimed not at nuns in general (which by the way the document specifically praises for their many good works in the U.S.A.) but at the Leadership Conference, (founded in the early 197ties - which does not represent all communities of women religious, and which has never been recognized by the Holy See as an approved official body – probably because of its repeated failure to operate under the authority of the Magisterium.) Instead of staying focused on the LCWR, Ms. Henneberger slants it as aimed at a “number of nuns” Moreover to say the the Holy See is concerned about some aspects of “radical feminism” is not the same as being opposed to all feminism – which Ms. Henneberger seems to equate (without foundation). Rather than continue to expose many other indications of emotive liberal reactive bias to anything which smacks of authority and its consistent failure to grasp the responsibility of Ecclesial authority to correct that which might lead people astray (can anyone these days still remember the spiritual works of mercy, which includes: to admonish the sinner as well as instruct the ignorant?) may I suggest reading the original 8 page document which can be found on the U.S.Bishops’ Conference website. There you will find that the concern is that speakers at the LCWR assemblies have made statements which are incompatible with Catholic teaching. Moreover some of its publications can also be misleading. And yet the LCWR has neither distanced itself from nor clarified such ideas and in some cases seems to have actually fostered dissent. When asked for an explanation by the Holy See, the LCWR apparently over an extended period of time, never really got around to addressing the issues head on, but rather adopted a stratagem of beating around the bush. Given the influence the LCWR inevitably wields over its member communities, especially in areas such as formation and governance, the Assessment document clearly states that (after 40 yrs. of inadequate responses), its purpose is to correct the errors and its consequent confusion of the LCWR for the spiritual wellbeing of all women religious.
The secular press continues to demonstrate that it is not a competent forum for grasping the import of spiritual realities, in this case the true nature and attributes of the consecrated life.