WO DAYS AFTER THE ELECTION OF POPE FRANCIS, Thomas C. Fox of the National So-Called Catholic Reporter (NSCCR) highlighted an “upcoming segment” of 60 Minutes that CBS described in the following manner:
One of the pressing problems newly elected Pope Francis may want to address is the disillusionment among American nuns. Many were shocked last year when the group that represents most of them was reprimanded by the Vatican, which says that the nuns’ liberal ideas were undermining the Church.
According to Mr. Fox, the 60 Minutes segment “comes at a time of considerable uncertainty in the church.” He goes on to speculate that “Without a CDF prefect, the authority of Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who officially serves as the Vatican ‘archbishop delegate’ for LCWR[,] is in question, at the very least.”
MR. FOX’S UNCERTAINTY RESOLVED
SARTAIN IT IS, HOWEVER, that the LCWR (and Mr. Fox of the NSCCR) can be “uncertain” no longer. On his Patheos blog, Deacon Greg Kandra provides a statement from the Vatican regarding a meeting between the CDF, the LCWR, and Abp. Sartain himself. According to the statement (with my emphases), CDF prefect Gerhard Muller
highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium (cf. Lumen Gentium nn. 43–47). … For this reason, [religious] Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See (cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 708–709).
Finally, Archbishop Muller informed the Presidency [of the LCWR] that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for his Conference of Major Superiors.
I would add that the Vatican statement could as easily have cited the following from Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata:
A distinctive aspect of ecclesial communion is allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops, an allegiance which must be lived honestly and clearly testified to before the People of God by all consecrated persons, especially those involved in theological research, teaching, publishing, catechesis[,] and the use of the means of social communication.
It seems to me a self-evident observation, however lost it may be on some (including those at the NSCCR), that a fundamental character of any religion is the propagation of truth claims. Doctrine matters. Without that, you may be any number of things, but you’re not Catholic. And it is not good to have the laity in the pews confused about these points, which is why John Paul II was so at pains to point out the need for honestly living the teachings of the Church, giving them “allegiance of mind and heart,” and clearly testifying to them so that their truth and their beauty may be known by all.
I’M NOT SURE WHY IT IS that the LCWR is said to have been “shocked”—shocked, I say!—by the Doctrinal Assessment of the CDF. The Catholic Church has made no mystery about her teaching on the issues in question, in particular abortion and contraception. Perhaps the shock can be explained by saying that there have (without question) been disciplinary problems within the Church for some time, and it could be that the LCWR thought they could go on in their heresy indefinitely.
Let them be “uncertain” on this point no longer. The CDF made its assessment under Pope Benedict, and Francis is not going to change that. His reaffirmation makes that as clear as day.
God bless Pope Francis.
Update 2: The off-the-left-cliff-wing Squawking Points Memo is outraged, as Nicole Winfield dusts off the alarmist description of the doctrinal assessment as a “crackdown.” Somehow I suspected it wouldn’t be long before the progressives turned on Pope Francis.
Update 3: The LCWR issued their own terse statement here.
Update 4: The shocked liberal despondency continues. Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today mourns that the “honeymoon between progressive[s] … and Pope Francis … may have ended” by the pope’s willingness to reaffirm the “stinging rebuke of most U.S. nuns.” [N.B., the LCWR is far from “most U.S. nuns,” but good luck convincing these people of that.] Ms. Grossman goes on to use all the standard buzz-phrases: the “controversial report” that was “a scandal” [the LCWR is the scandal, Ms. Grossman]; the need for “mission integrity” in the LCWR [for what?]; the “political censure” [yawn]. Expect this kind of bewailing and breast-beating (though not in repentance) among the far-left to continue.