He Said, She Said, Another Chapter

At RNS, David Gibson reports on a piece in L’Osservatore Romano (English page here, but nothing on the story there, yet) in which Cardinal Gerhard Müller defends himself on the continuing struggle between prelates and women religious.

From the CDF head:

We have received many letters of distress from other nuns belonging to the same congregations who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which (the LCWR) are steering their mission.

We know this. It is not news. It’s also quite understandable that among 50,000 sisters, there will be some who are displeased with conferences, initiatives, and the struggle to recover or reclaim founders’ charisms.

The question for the CDF and the sisters seems clear: who is best placed to deal with issues of leadership, disagreements, and dissent–none of which are necessarily bad things? Some of the points of disagreement may well be about doctrine. But in the final analysis, the CDF isn’t going to come to live in women’s communities and keep the peace. In parishes, people come and go if the pastor gets too high-handed. Some complain to the bishop. Some complain to Rome. The Church does not get to claim itself as a conflict-free zone. And even the best communities have to deal with disagreement.

That’s why a good swath of the LCWR/CDF/USCCB conflict is political. By political, I mean human interaction–not government politics of the right and left.

How do religious communities deal with dissent and minority upheaval? That seems a matter not for Cardinal Müller, but instead another department.

I don’t think Cardinal Müller is a misogynist …

Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don’t want to gobble up a woman a day!

Maybe he’s a busybody. Since when is the perception of “no more vocations” the concern of CDF? Cardinal João Braz de Aviz seems like the man to go to.

Lots of Catholics might well be displeased with their leadership. Sometimes they even have good reason. On the level of the diocese, Boston 2002 or Kansas City 2012 or Saint Paul 2014. Sometimes it gets “fixed,” and sometimes not. I hear stories all the time about pastors replaced, ministry colleagues getting fired for no-cause, parishioners getting bullied. There is no easy answer for most of this.

There is much going on in the Church that is unfair and perceived to be unfair. Sometimes the limit is for us–for me–to not be unfair. Sometimes that involves standing up to people “above” us. And sometimes there are consequences for that. It seems like Jesus walked in those footsteps once.

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About catholicsensibility

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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