There has been some very interesting developments lately concerning two 4-letter organizations. The SSPX (Society of Saint Piux X) and the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious).
I have watched with interest the latest news concerning Vatican dialog with the SSPX and that concerning the CDF’s “Doctrinal Preamble” that “steps forward have been taken, that is to say, that the response, the new response, is rather encouraging. But there are still developments that will be made, and examined, and decisions which should be taken in the next few weeks.”
This is advancing much better than I had suspected it would. Really I was quite pessimistic about any real progress concerning the leadership of the SSPX. Now I am much more optimistic that something substantive will occur and I pray that it does.
The news concerning the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is also very interesting. This statement from the CDF is the result of the visitation they made to the LCWR in 2009. I remember some thinking this would result in a total white wash with the Vatican effectively doing nothing about the problem. For myself I have learned some patience in regard to how the Vatican and especially the CDF reacts. Well really I have realized I need patience on being patient since the CDF really must act slowly and deliberately out of charity for those being investigated. Really what I would wish for is special Vatican S.W.A.T. Teams that repel out of helicopters onto dissident institutions with specially trained prayer warriors.
Regardless, the CDF is certainly taking the dissent of the LCWR seriously and are acting accordingly.
The overarching concern of the doctrinal Assessment is, therefore, to assist the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States in implementing an ecclesiology of communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the Church as the essential foundation for its important service to religious Communities and to all those in consecrated life.
It looks like the LCWR did their Captain Renault impersonation with “I’m shocked, shocked to find that dissent is going on in here!”
In its response, the Presidency of the LCWR maintained that it does not knowingly invite speakers who take a stand against a teaching of the Church “when it has been declared as authoritative teaching.” Further, the Presidency maintains that the assertions made by speakers are their own and do not imply intent on the part of the LCWR. Given the facts examined, however, this response is inadequate. The Second Vatican Council clearly indicates that an authentic teaching of the Church calls for the religious submission of intellect and will, and is not limited to defined dogmas or ex cathedra statements (cf. Lumen gentium, 25). For example, the LCWR publicly expressed in 1977 its refusal to assent to the teaching of Inter insigniores on the reservation of priestly ordination to men. This public refusal has never been corrected. Beyond this, the CDF understands that speakers at conferences or general assemblies do not submit their texts for prior review by the LCWR Presidency. But, as the Assessment demonstrated, the sum of those talks over the years is a matter of serious concern.
The CDF’s plan is a serious plan of guidance and overview. The short version to quote “Animal House” the CDF has declared that “Well, as of this moment, they’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!” Well maybe not.
The actual steps the CDF is undertaking with their “5 year plan” is available in the doctrinal assessment itself.
The members of the CDF, SSPX, and LCWR are certainly in need of our prayers as this is not going to be an easy process. Though as pessimistic as I was for the full unification with the SSPX, I have pessimism-squared in regards to the LCWR and it’s members. Regardless I will rejoice for each person that does indeed return.