Stunning news for postmodern nuns

BY TERRY MATTINGLY Published: May 7, 2012
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p/> Also, "no one is upset about all the sisters have done to abolish the death penalty, stand up for immigrants, care for the sick and help the poor. Rome praised them for that. ...

"Frankly, this report could have been written 20 years ago. The real issues in this case are that old."

For example, the Vatican noted that in 1977 the LCWR leadership openly rejected Catholic teachings on the "reservation of priestly ordination to men."

The women's conference later published a training book suggesting that it's legitimate for sisters to debate whether celebrations of the Mass should be central to events in their communities, since this would require the presence of a male priest. In the '80s, leaders in female orders backed the New Ways Ministry's work to oppose Catholic teachings on homosexuality.

A pivotal moment came in 2007, when Dominican Sister Laurie Brink delivered the keynote address at a national LCWR assembly stating that it was time for some religious orders to enter an era of "sojourning" that would require "moving beyond the church, even beyond Jesus."

With the emergence of the women's movement and related forms of spirituality, many sisters would see "the divine within nature" and embrace an "emerging new cosmology" that would feed their souls, said Brink. For these sisters, the "Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative. ... Jesus is not the only son of God."

A year later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened its investigation of the LCWR.

The Brink address, noted the resulting doctrinal assesment, "is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. ... Some might see in Sr. Brink's analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today.

But pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help."

(Terry Mattingly is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads the GetReligion.org project to study religion and the news.)

(c) COPYRIGHT 2012 United Feature Syndicate

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