A Tale of Two Ecclesiologies

NCRep sums the LCWR meeting. Two commentators who were not present were quoted, among others. Jesuit Bruce Morrill:

To my mind, this is a stellar example of how fundamentally different are the cultures the LCWR and Roman Catholic hierarchy practice. The LCWR thus declares its willingness to continue ‘to work with’ Archbishop Sartain, but they do not describe any readiness to meet the CDF and the archbishop’s command that they henceforth submit their conference agendas and selected speakers for the archbishop’s approval.

Yes, and it’s not just a matter of women’s democracy versus men’ hierarchy. The essence of religious life is deeper: women and men who have a history that predates the curia of electing leaders and living a church life more communal, more shared, with mutuality. Maybe women have benefitted from not being ordained in the sense that they’ve been sucked into the power game. Certainly, the more open and shared governance model is not exclusively a female thing.

Ann Carey beats the drum:

LCWR has three choices: It can implement the reform required by the Holy See and remain a canonical superiors’ conference; it can go its own way as a professional organization without any canonical status; or it can disband. LCWR seems to be searching for a fourth option that would allow it to keep its canonical status while going its own way on doctrinal matters. Time may run out on them for that fourth option, however, for the reform is supposed to be completed by April of 2017.

Ms Carey assumes that the positive regard of authority is something for which to be sought. If the sisters gain no benefit from canonical recognition, then these three choices would be how Ms Carey would view it. And I suspect she would be obedient to the bishops and align her will with theirs.

There would seem to be no problem with option 2. If all the dialogue with Rome degrades into an occasional he said/she said smackdown, then what’s the point?

And doctrine? Where does doctrine figure in this? This is a political and administrative tussle.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to A Tale of Two Ecclesiologies

  1. I had never considered the point about how the different structures of governance don’t necessarily cooperate very well. Plus, you had a great point about how the religious order style of government predates the curia.

  2. FrMichael says:

    “And doctrine? Where does doctrine figure in this? This is a political and administrative tussle.”

    On the contrary, doctrine is a prime motive force behind all of this. When you have keynote speakers to the LCWR speaking about congregations becoming post-Christian, the weird Gaia-fixation many of the constituent orders have, bizarre Sophia-talk, and generalized indifferentism, trying to remove doctrine from the discussion is like removing the pigskin from the game of football.

    And BTW ecclesiology IS a branch of theology.

    • Todd says:

      Politics and administration: who gets a voice at the “table.” One can certainly listen to alternate viewpoints, and even unpleasant news without getting sucked in. At least in normal human exchanges. For example: I can read and write of careerism in the episcopacy without becoming a careerist myself, or advocating for it. Do I come under suspicion in some circles for being an anti-bishop Congregationalist? I’m sure I do. But that’s not my fault, especially that I’ve shown willingness to dialogue and provide significant nuance to the controversial opinions I’ve stated here.

      My sense is that Cardinal Wuerl’s ghost-reader has mistaken theology for catechesis. Prof Johnson offered several examples of misreading her text. These were addressed somewhat in the USCCB response Liam linked. Quest fot the Living God is a dense and demanding book. I feel sure a treatment of it in an academic setting would lend itself better than bedside reading between copies of the NCRep and Sojourners.

      In this instance, theology is the setting for a political and administrative fight. It’s hard for me to see it as more than that.

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