In last night's post I mentioned that yesterday was a very intense day. I will share with you why I said that.
Reader Beware: As tempting as it is, I am not going to comment on the SUBSTANCE of the parties' beliefs in this conflict. It is the PROCEDURE and the HISTORY that I am focused on for now.
Yesterday I, like many others, found out that the Vatican had issued a statement regarding the Doctrinal Investigation that it conducted on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The story has been reported in the news, primarily Catholic news media such as the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) online. The USCCB also has its own informational posting on the subject, including a letter and the report from Cardinal Levada (an American), who is prefect (leader) of the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. This is the powerful congregation that was previously run by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
This morning the NCR reported on how the news of the reform and imposition of an "Archbishop Delegate" was delivered to the new Executive Director of LCWR and others with her during their annual visit to the CDF. They were not given time to even contact their constituents or staff at home in the States to tell them what would be happening. Instead, their staff and constituent women religious in the U.S. learned of the news in the media, which travels at lightening speed when there is bad news to be conveyed these days. Isn't that the way it goes?
Now, whatever you think of religious women in the United States, there are a few things that I hope we can agree upon. One is that no one deserves to have news of this magnitude dropped on them like a ton of bricks, especially when you are "defenseless" in a foreign country. Second, not being given a chance to notify staff, friends and colleagues back home of what is happening before the news is broken to the vulturous media is demeaning and disrespectful. It's kind of like a criminal defendant who is not read his Miranda rights, or who is denied his one phone call to his attorney. Those are basic rights that generally everyone has come to expect. You may not think it is that important until you are in that position yourself!
Third, I believe in consistency, so I am conservative in my politics and in the practice of my faith. I do not want Big Brother Government breathing down my neck and imposing nanny-state rules on me. Similarly, I do not want Big Brother Magisterium breathing down my neck imposing non-doctrinal viewpoints on me either. What do I mean by this?
Well, my biggest issue with the USCCB now is that the U.S. bishops, collectively, are confusing people so much that no one knows what their stance is on any given issue. One of the reasons I respected George W. Bush is that he was always consistent in what he said and did. I did not have to guess at how he would respond to crises or issues that faced the country. That's not the case when it comes to the U.S. bishops as a collective body. Our bishops are politically liberal on some "social justice" issues (universal health care), but they are conservative on others (abortion, death penalty). We have seen a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approach to so many things that no one can make sense of it all -- me included! And this is what I (try to) do for a living!
Why in heaven's name have the bishops over the last 8 decades endorsed government-run (single-payer) health care? It is so contrary to every fiber of my being. It took me many decades myself to be able to articulate this, and now I am tired of being silent about it. These intelligent men are so eager to turn over their moral authority to civil authorities that it blows my mind. In centuries past, Church leaders sought ways to make things happen that involved the Faithful making CHOICES. Why can they not see that when the government imposes or mandates people to do things, there is no CHOICE.
I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus said that a MAN--a Samaritan--stopped and cared for the injured man on the roadside. The Samaritan man did not go to the government and tell them to go take care of the man on the roadside. The Samaritan man made a CHOICE to help the injured man. I am so sick of the convoluted way that the Scriptures are distorted to support liberal beliefs that GOVERNMENT should take care of every need of every individual, from food and shelter to medical care and abortions. Personal responsibility and the dignity of the human person are undermined by this socialistic mindset. Both parties in this case are guilty of this distortion of Jesus' teachings to support their erroneous view that the govern must pay.
The bishops and the nuns get tax exempt status because they are supposed to use their money to do the charitable works that they now are pushing off on the government. The government, in turn, gets the money to do these things (which it gladly accepts to do because the recipients will vote to keep them in office so they can get more free stuff) by taxing the rest of us who work and pay the taxes that the government then uses. Why grant tax-exemption to these Catholic organizations if they are NOT using the money for the charitable works that they profess? It is compliance with the operational part that is missing in the two-part test that the IRS uses to determine if a tax-exempt organization should continue to have tax-exempt status. Both of these organizations fail the test, in my book.
LCWR, the same organization being taken over by the Vatican, has had a traveling history exhibit touring the U.S. for several years now. It is called Women and Spirit. They have produced a CD (available on their website) that goes through the history of women's religious life in the U.S. I was mesmerized for the first 45 minutes or so of the video, even though I already had seen the exhibit at the Smithsonian. It was so inspirational and re-awakened in me the reason that I twice considered (and attempted) religious life. In those days I wanted to help people. I wanted to be on the front lines and GIVE BACK something in gratitude for all that with which God has blessed me in my life. I was disillusioned both times.
Instead, each time I found myself in the midst of women who pushed for government involvement in people's life. That is waht is depicted in the last 10 to 15 minutes of the LCWR video -- radical feminism.
I now ask myself: Are the bishops so naive that they did not see -- for decades -- that when you turn things over to government you have to accept that government gets to dictate the terms? Women religious know this and accept it because they believe the same thing as the liberal Democrats. They have all ceded their works, their apostolates, and their ministries to the civil government. No one needs them any more -- they have encouraged and helped the government to make itself the god of the people. Have religious and bishops been so secluded, so deluded, so excluded from reality that they seek and prefer socialism, fascism, and/or "Utopianism" over FREEDOM?
[I've got lots more to say on Utopianism in a future blog -- after I finish reading Mark Levin's Ameritopia.]
Two words from the Bible come to mind: "Jesus wept."
If you still have the stomach for it, here are some media stories on the Doctrinal Assessment.
http://www.cdapress.com/news/national_news/article_6eb2bbcf-5c7d-5b63-8812-f5e32917b2e8.html (Idaho) AP story
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/vatican-orders-crackdown-on-us-nun-association-leadership-conference-of-women-religious_n_1434866.html AP story
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0419/Vatican-nun-crackdown-hits-US-group-for-radical-feminist-ideas (Christian Science Monitor) AP story
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-04-18/american-nuns-vatican/54396560/1 (Religious News Service)
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57415816/vatican-orders-crackdown-on-us-nun-association/ (short story)
http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=10018 (Includes video link to "The Inquistion" from Mel Brooks' History of the World Part II)