Rorate Caeli

Leadership Conference of Women Religious: The Heterodox Sisters Won - but with an expiration date in sight

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: "Son of man, what shall be made of the wood of the vine, out of all the trees of the woods that are among the trees of the forests? Shall wood be taken of it, to do any work, or shall a pin be made of it for any vessel to hang thereon?" Behold it is cast into the fire for fuel: the fire hath consumed both ends thereof, and the midst thereof is reduced to ashes: shall it be useful for any work? Even when it was whole it was not fit for work: how much less, when the fire hath devoured and consumed it, shall any work be made of it?

Therefore thus saith the Lord God: "As the vine tree among the trees of the forests which I have given to the fire to be consumed, so will I deliver up the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will set my face against them: they shall go out from fire, and fire shall consume them: and you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have set my face against them. And I shall have made their land a wilderness, and desolate, because they have been transgressors," saith the Lord God.
Ezekiel, chapter 15


The investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the confederation of mostly disappearing female religious orders in the United States, by the Holy See ended today in a huge pile of nothingness or weak measures. As the mainstream media has rightly ascertained, it was the "end" of the "Vatican takeover", with a sign of "appreciation" for the heterodox sisters:

The Vatican abruptly ended its takeover of the main leadership group of American nuns on Thursday, allowing Pope Francis to put to rest a confrontation started by his predecessor that had created an uproar among American Catholics who came to the sisters’ defense. Four of the leaders of the American nuns’ group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, were called to an unexpected meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis in the Vatican that lasted 50 minutes. He did not speak publicly, but the sisters said afterward in a statement that they were “deeply heartened” by Francis’ “expression of appreciation” for the lives and ministry of Catholic sisters. (source)

Yet, as the Lord revealed to Prophet Ezekiel, even a useless heap of ash can be useful as a lesson in history: as goes the ultra-liberal LCWR, so goes the Church in most of the wealthier nations, and in its heartlands (including Southern Europe and Latin America). It is a lesson of the huge expectations and ultimate failure of the past 50 years regarding much of the historic nucleus of the Catholic Church - large dioceses, schools and universities, and in particular religious orders. It is also a symbol of the failure of some of the greatest hopes that had arisen during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, shattered hopes that also help to explain his resignation in February 2013.

The first report by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) filled Catholics with the hope that an organization gone astray would be put under doctrinal control. Alas, that was not to be: the fatigue that characterized the final years of the Ratzinger Pontificate meant that the issue would go nowhere, especially after the appointment of someone who was not interested in changes at all, Cardinal Braz de Aviz, as successor to the faithful Cardinal Rodé, who had started the investigation. It all went downhill from there, because there is only one "non-negotiable principle" for the new leadership of the Congregation for Religious, as made clear by its Secretary, Abp. Rodríguez Carballo days ago in Rome, even for "monastic orders" (!): being "inserted in the world", as wished by what is apparently the only Ecumenical Council in the history of the Church...

A primary question faced by orders: "What are the fundamentals of our identity?"
"There is a trademark of this that is very significant," he told the directors. "Namely, this consecrated life is in the church; it is not only within its own charism. In the world, not only outside the world -- even for the monastic life."

"This is the first point that is important for us, this context in which the identity is made," the cardinal continued. "A consecrated life, a life in God but inserted in the ecclesial family, in the church -- inserted in the world."

"Not in conflict with the world, but inserted in continuity," he said.
During his remarks, Rodríguez also referred to the Second Vatican Council, saying that the theme of the event was taken from one of the council's documents: Perfectae Caritatis, the 1965 decree on the renewal of religious life.

"With this explicit reference to the Second Vatican Council, we point to our profound conviction that the council is the point of reference, non-negotiable, in the formation to the consecrated life," Rodríguez said. [Source]

Not that the Council has any relationship with the current collapse of historic female religious orders, not at all.

The LCWR sisters "won", with the help and support of the leadership of the Congregation for Religious - but with an expiration date in sight.