Jack Smith really gets out in front on certain stories, and the CDF assessment is one of them. Today he posts on a piece that gives insight as to why the institution is nervous.
I commented there, and I stand by my premise that this investigation is potentially scandalous–both ways.
Liam offers sensible commentary on yesterday’s thread. I would like to add some more commentary, though I have no guarantee of sensibility.
Laurie Brink’s post-Christian exploration is interesting. No doubt some will find it troubling. Others will see it as a weapon for the culture wars, evidence as it were, to confirm what has already been judged. Personally, I find it full of material for discernment. It brings up many questions, one above the others. If women are looking beyond the Church, and beyond Christ, why would that be?
It is easy to blame conditions outside the Church: the sexual revolution, the influence of non-Christian religions, the devil, getting up on the wrong side of the bed, insufficient medication for the problem this presents. Catholic tradition would also suggest we look to ourselves, to a personal examination of conscience, and scour our thoughts and acts for blame. Jack Smith doesn’t care for the tone taken by the mendicant sisters toward the neo-contemplatives, but I’ve heard a lot of bile directed at religious sisters. It’s come from pastors, lay people, other religious, and naturally the culture at large. At times it can be cruel and juvenile–not unlike middle school, but none of the perpetrators are pre-adolescents.
My first reaction to this is being strongly bothered. An authentic investigation would move open-mindedly, willing to trace roots of the problem across the Church where women religious have suffered mistreatment, injustice, and even rape at the hands of men. A pastor, a shepherd, would be interested in watching, discerning, and gaining the whole picture. Maybe that will happen. I would be overjoyed to see it.
The challenge is that the CDF operates outside the realm of pastors and shepherds. Liam is correct to point out the medicant tradition as moving beyond Benedict. Not unlike the movement of a bureaucrratic Curia beyond the bishops. If the LCWR is in trouble or troublesome for suggesting a movement beyond Christ, what of any other Catholic movement into that-which-is-not-Christ? One might argue the Inquisition and its daughter organization is not traceable to Christ. Now there’s no question that individuals within the CDF began as Christians, being baptized, and were set on the path to orders. But at one point in Church history, doctrinal questions were addressed by bishops of dioceses, shepherds who had their hands on the staff at the service of particular flocks. One might posit that lots of aspects of the Church are post-Christian and post-Jesus in the sense that arrogance and narcissism come to the fore once once-good people lose perspective.
Lots of questions, all around, I would say.
One thing to watch on the blogosphere, something I would hope the CDF considers. Let’s consider the reaction not of commentariats–we know the extremes are going to be batspit drooling over this–but of the bloggers. It will be interesting to see if a mob scene, complete with cyber-pitchforks and torches, forms and what kinds of things they will say.