Over the years, my ire at the LCWR has become more pity. Since most of these women are my age, I have some understanding of what their life experiences have been and I can honestly say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
I understand that the ’60s didn’t happen in a vacuum. Much of the groundwork for that troubled decade was laid during the previous decades in which, not only the Church, but societal norms in general relegated women and their traditional roles to a status undeserving of any real attention. In retrospect, any thinking Catholic in the USA can easily see that, when the sisters who largely belong to the LCWR began to question these norms in the wake of the ’60s, the infrastructure of hospitals, schools etc in this country began to collapse. In that sense, the Catholic Church in this country at least was only reaping what it had sown.
That said, these poor women seem to have built an altar to their pain and refuse to worship anywhere else. Instead of following the example of the great heritage of women saints in our Church, from Blessed Mother to Joan of Arc to Mother Cabrini, who have been misunderstood, not to say vilified, by pompous clerics through the centuries, the LCWR continues to labor for the bread that perishes: i.e., popular opinion and press coverage.
In itself, this situation is sad enough because God calls us to spend our lives doing so much more than looking backward and licking our wounds. The horrible sidebar to this sad story that’s seldom reported, however, is the fact that, as Jesus said to the Pharisees (paraphrasing!), “It’s not enough that you won’t get into heaven yourselves but you block the way for everyone following you.” That is, sisters like the Dominican who has been an “escort” at an abortuary in Chicago or another sister who advised an older couple who were living together because of the difficulty of obtaining annulments for previous marriages that their “consciences knew better than the Church” therefore their cohabitation was perfectly okay or the sister who, as the Parish Administrator, refused to relinquish her position to the Pastor when he was eventually assigned— all these examples and many more cause confusion, pain and sin far beyond the ever-shrinking circles of the sisters of the LCWR. Sister Laurie Brink et al might want to carefully reconsider exactly what lies “beyond Jesus Christ” (2007) before they get too much older.
In the meantime, the Church which is “forever young” will continue to “preach Christ and Him Crucified” for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. That’s what the Year of Faith is all about, Sisters.