NCRep reports on the “doctrinal assessment,” and the commentariat there predictably (and perhaps not groundlessly) muses with phrases like “witch hunt.”
Still, I have questions …
A leadership organization is, by definition, an administrative/consultative/participatory body. While you can’t separate charisms and expressions of faith from said body, it is formed for a purpose other than doctrinal. One might say doctrine has no direct bearing on the particular role of the LCWR.
It would be like a bishop (or even lay people) criticizing preaching in a diocese, then assessing the diocesan presbyteral council on homiletics. You might find some bad preachers in the group, sure. And you might convince them to put their noses to the homiletic grindstone. But you wouldn’t catch the lazier clergy who don’t step up for committee work and who keep to themselves and their poor preaching. Is it about deficient practices in the clergy, or is it about the leadership group of priests?
Take the bishops’ management scandal: why couldn’t someone assess the doctrine of those bishops who permitted sex abusers to run wild? No wonder they’ve delayed acting on their feelings toward women religious for eight years. Some few sisters may get a bad rap for pounding students’ knuckles or for wearing polyester, but there’s no way this “doctrinal assessment” would have flown back in ’02. It’s probably not going to go down well today.
It’s easy to deny this event is connected with the visitation, but someone might have assessed that men needed to be involved with the supervision of women religious. The matter seems simpler than this possible set-up for humiliation. Let each bishop decide which group or groups of women religious are involved in parishes, and let individual pastors hire and fire as they see fit (and already do).
It’s hard to see where the Vatican fits in this at all. They say CDF stands for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but it looks like that middle initial should be a “P” for politics.