From Amy Welborn
Okay, so I was thinking about all the virtual ink that’s been spilled, tears that have been shed and skin that’s been worn off hands because of all that wringing over the LCWR/Sr. Farley business, and I figures at some point soon, the columnists and bloggers are going to run out of material, and they just might need another example of a Religious Sister, Kept Down By The Men.
(Not a fake issue, historically speaking, by the way! Not kidding!)
So, I thought of one!
Here you go: the American religious sister who’s had more conflicts with more bishops than any other over the past few decades. Who’s gone head-to-head with a bishop or two, whose work has been supported by lay people, but who’s had bishops has her primary opponents, both overtly and covertly, who, up until various shifts and changes of the past 5-7 years, has had probably 80% of the American bishops strongly in opposition to her ministry.
Nun v. Male Bishops! For your next column, blog post, Colbert bit or #hashtag campaign! Ready?
Now this is an interesting comparison, but a comparison with a major difference. Mother Angelica certainly clashed with some bishops and in many ways it was a mirror image of the CDF/LCWR situation. There were certainly some bishops quite unhappy with EWTN especially in comparison the the Bishop conferences foray into cable television. You might ask “What Bishop’s conference cable show?” – well it was less than popular and not always exactly brimming with orthodoxy as I have heard told.
One of those things that nerved some bishops was EWTN’s televised Masses that dared to be devoid of all the experimentations that were so common and of course still exist. It must have been quite striking for some to see the difference between EWTN’s televised Mass that epitomized “Read the black, do the red” in contrast to “Read the black, ignore, the red, and make it up as you go.”
Specifically EWTN’s use of Ad Orientum with the priest facing East towards the Tabernacle really bothered some people. It did not matter that this is totally valid and it was only on that fictions list of “things done with at Vatican II.” Regardless their were complaints made to her bishop and ultimately her bishop ordered EWTN to not televise Masses conducted Ad Orientum. Now while EWTN was technically correct in having Masses this way, they still complied with their bishop. That is what obedience looks like. If you are obedient only when you agree with your bishop, than you are not obedient. Now EWTN still went on using Ad Orientum for Masses not televised and conducted at their temple, but did indeed comply with the specific restriction of their bishop.
This is the aspect of obedience that is almost totally missing among nuns/sisters who are among the media darlings for resting the “evillll” Vatican. There is a total lack of humility when it comes to clashes. There is no humble reply as the result of a CDF theological investigation – it is always cast into almost political lines where every dissident theologian is a martyr to the Vatican. The use of “leadership” in the initialism LCWR is a total misnomer since they have shown no real leadership. Instead of course correction and fulfilling their vows (especially obedience) they refused to clean up their own mess and after decades forcing the CDF to intervene. Then of course when the inevitable happens they are totally shocked. Not exactly leadership and certainly not obedience.
There will always be clashes between people and their bishops and between priest and religious and their bishops. In some of these cases the bishop will be handling something badly or even being totally wrong. But again if your obedience is dependent on how much the bishop is on the same page as you, it isn’t obedience.
As the start of Veritatis Splendor states:
- Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, “the true light that enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9), people become “light in the Lord” and “children of light” (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by “obedience to the truth” (1 Pet 1:22).
This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.