The Anchoress posts at the First Things blog about Sr. Sandra M. Schneiders and what she had previously written in an email that got published in regards to the recently announced apostolic visitation of women’s communities in America.
I saw this yesterday at the National Catholic Reporter and Sr. Schneiders email quite irked me, though I figured it would be good not to post on it while “irked.”
I am not inclined to get into too much of a panic about this investigation–which is what it is . . . I do not put any credence at all in the claim that this is friendly, transparent, aimed to be helpful, etc. It is a hostile move and the conclusions are already in. It is meant to be intimidating. But I think if we believe in what we are doing (and I definitely do) we just have to be peacefully about our business, which is announcing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, fostering the Reign of God in this world. We cannot, of course, keep them from investigating. But we can receive them, politely and kindly, for what they are, uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house. When people ask questions they shouldn’t ask, the questions should be answered accordingly.
So read what The Anchoress has to say on this first since she puts it quite well. But to give a taste:
Sister and her associates seem to have birthed a form of Religious Life that no longer receives “everyone as Christ” but parcels out the hospitality like upper-crust dames who will nod at the social climbers (and even condescend to having them to tea, if it will dispense with an obligation) but who will have the place fumigated once the undeserving have finally been shown the door. Sounds like she’ll count the teaspoons, too.
Can you hear the obedience and humility from the tone of this letter. If you can you have much better hearing than myself. I do wonder what are the questions they shouldn’t ask. My guess would be “Don’t ask us about faithfulness to the Magisterium.” Though I do have to remind myself not to think of these communities as whole blocks because there are faithful Catholics living in these communities where what has happened has been a major cross for them.
I remember when I first read the sisters piece I had quite a good laugh at the following.
I have come to the conclusion that Congregations like ours [the kind represented by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in this country] have, in fact, birthed a new form of Religious Life.
Yes a form of Religious Life that does not reproduce itself (thankfully). Progressives have sometimes been called mules because of the fact that there way of life is quite sterile and attracts so few vocations to their way of religious life. When religious life becomes just social work then why take vows? just become a social worker. Blessed Mother Teresa quite disliked when people thought of her work with the poor as just social work.
Well, that’s where I am on this. I refuse to go into a panic over it. There are better things to do. Always glad to hear from any of you on any of this.
What an attitude to take concerning an Apostolic Visitation. Guilty conscience? Surely they realize they have become hotbeds of dissent. If the Democratic Party has monastic life it would be identical to most of these communities. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say if the U.N. had monastic communities since their websites always have links to the U.N. and almost never to the Vatican and I am not just being snide here.
Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them.” Dissent and shrinking communities has been the fruit. They have been pavers of good intentions. That being said, we should pray for Mother Clare Millea, who is leading the visitation project and for the religious communities. I have to admit that when I first read of the apostolic visitation of women’s communities in America I was thinking “Smack down!”, which is not the right attitude for a follower of Christ. So I will go with “Thy will be done” in regards to the visitation instead.