Desperately Seeking Catholicity

I just finished reading my issue of the latest NZ Catholic. A very good read.

However, in this latest edition, something was not so good. In fact, something was downright bad.

I’m referring to one of the book reviews. It was a book review by Pat Lythe, and it was very strange, given what it said about a very disturbing book and its rather haughty author.

In this book review, Lythe heaps praise on the author (a woman, and apparently a nun, Sr Sandra Schneiders) and the book itself which, by all other accounts from trustworthy people, is heretical, dissident, astonishingly un-catholic, and very dangerous for unformed catholic minds.

The well known and illustrious Fr Z has written about this book just recently here.  He links to an online version of the book (as a collection of essays, which is what the book is).

Fr Z says:

Sr. Schneiders – like so many of these liberal nun exponents of the Magisterium of Nuns – has put out some really bad books.

For example, there is her line of thought – NunThink – in the 2009 essays Fishwrap published [this is the collection of essays reviewed by Pat Lythe in book form].

Sr. Schneiders has taught her sister women religious that, since Lumen gentium confirms that nuns aren’t actually members of the hierarchy, then nuns don’t have to pay attention to the teaching of the hierarchy which they don’t like or promote or enforce the teachings that come from the hierarchy.   Furthermore, according to NunThink, they now make their vows to God, not the Church.  Basically, Schneiders exalts the sisters who defy the hierarchy and she runs down those who are in the ‘CMSWR-type communities continuing the older form’.  For Schneiders, the women religious have evolved away from consecrated religious life, into ministerial religious life.  They see themselves as ‘ministers’.  But they are not members of the hierarchy and therefore have a kind of prophetic ministerial church authority over and against the official institutional church.

According to Schneiders, the hierarchy considers women religious a kind of work force, foot soldiers, who will promote official teaching, etc.  But Schneiders sees religious as being freed from that role by the Spirit of Vatican II.

There is actually an entire planet between her thought and Vatican II on religious.

Sr Schneiders has been under investigation by the Vatican.

Cardinal Levada, – Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is currently attempting to evangelize the dissident religious leadership (the LCWR) and bring them home to true faith in Jesus – mentioned, that had he known that Sr Sandra Schneiders would be speaking at the last LCWR conference, he would have refused permission, and withdrawn approval of the conference, and shut it down.

LCWR = Leadership Conference of Women Religious. It is an umbrella group which represents about 80% of American women religious. One can see why the Vatican is finally moving to clean things up; they have held negative sway for years, with very little true fruit. These nuns have been doing whatever they want for a long time now. They have bluntly hacked out a version of being Catholic in their own image and likeness, called themselves prophets, and worshipped at that polluted altar without much fraternal correction from anybody. If it was offered, they preferred their ‘prophetic’ idol to the truth. And now that Rome is finally pulling the plug, in their pride, they refuse to budge, and no longer have any proper sense of obedience, i.e., listening. They are so convinced of their own self importance and role that they have become blind in their pride. They are pharisees who know better than everybody else and who refuse to reform. That’s the true spirit of phariseeism: prideful inflexible rejection of true spiritual reform.

On this point, Cardinal Levada conceded that his attempts with the nuns could well end up being a ‘dialogue with the deaf’.

This nun (and her writing) is poisonous. Read what Fr Z has to say about her here in another blog entry, where he discusses her ‘theology’ further.

Notice how she has removed the mediation of the Church in her ‘theology’ – which is exactly what Martin Luther did. It suits her to only report to God. It’s easy to owe obedience to God and not human beings. Human beings make mistakes and are sometimes difficult to deal with, and therefore it seems unworthy to obey them when they are in true authority. So she gets rid of that divinely instituted dimension of the Church. Schneiders is utterly protestant in her thinking, yet, in her insolence she remains within the walls of the Church, because she knows she needs it for her income, and in order to spread her ‘gospel’.

And yet, the review in the NZ Catholic heaps glowing praise on the views contained in the book, and refers to the Vatican’s efforts at converting the nuns back to the true faith, as an ‘unprecedented assault.’

Promoting such a book is, in my opinion, helping to distort others’ faith. Recently Cardinal Marc Ouellet, whilst visiting Ireland, prayed for healing of the sexual abuse crisis. He did penance there, as requested by the Pope, in reparation for the grievous Irish offences against children. He said, ‘It is a sin against which Jesus himself lashed out: “It would be better for him if a millstone was put around his neck and he is thrown in to the sea than for him to cause one of the little ones to stumble” (Lk. 17:2).’

Causing another to stumble, especially in their understanding of the faith, by promoting harmful and erroneous books, is also a way by which we offend Jesus and endanger our salvation. We have to be very careful that we don’t become ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing when promoting such material.

Why is the NZ Catholic, normally a cracking good read, allowing such a positive review from Pat Lythe to be published about such a terribly anti-catholic book?

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    Comments: 89

    1. Helens Bay June 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      “Why is the NZ Catholic, normally a cracking good read, allowing such a positive review from Pat Lythe to be published about such a terribly anti-catholic book?”
      Maybe because NZ Catholic along with millions of Catholics worldwide respect and love the work performed by Catholic nuns all over the world.
      The Catholic Faith in NZ and worldwide owes everything to those saintly women.
      Your slanderous attack on women of God is despicable.
      The world is on the side of the Sisters and they will not be bullied by power hungry men!!

    2. Marty Rethul June 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm


      ‘…NZ Catholic along with millions of Catholics worldwide respect and love the work performed by Catholic nuns all over the world.’

      So do I – I would go so far as to say that I respect and love the work done by all faithful Catholic nuns – as long as that work is in accordance with the mind of the Church which, in this instance, it is not.

      ‘The Catholic Faith in NZ and worldwide owes everything to those saintly women.’

      No, it doesn’t. The Faith may owe much to saintly women, but it owes nothing to those who distort it.

      ‘The world is on the side of the Sisters and they will not be bullied by power hungry men!’

      This is not about power. It never has been.

      ‘Your slanderous attack on women of God is despicable.’

      Your blindness in regard to something so clear is astonishing.

    3. Chris Sullivan June 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Here’s a piece from Sr Sandra Schneiders’ first essay which gives a good introduction to her views:

      There is an instructive parallel between the questions religious are asking about the Vatican investigation (and which they have asked before, many times, in similar situations) and the questions scholars (and many ordinary believers) ask about the trial and execution of Jesus. There is a tendency to ask and to stop with, the questions “Who is responsible for the death of Jesus?” and “Why was Jesus executed?” (Like who is responsible for this investigation and what are the charges?)

      At one level the answers are fairly easily available to a careful study of the Gospel texts. Jesus was executed by the collusion of the political (Roman Empire) and religious (Jerusalem hierarchy) power elites in first century Palestine. He was executed because his ministry threatened to cause an uprising of the Palestinian peasantry. This would have been fatal to the career of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor whose job was to keep the Jewish province under control. It would have been even more disastrous for the Jewish leadership who retained what little authority they had over their own religious affairs and population only as long as the Jewish populace did not become problematic for the Empire.

      But this basically political-religious motivation is only a first level answer to the questions of “who” and “why”. It does not get at what we really need to know about Jesus and his mission if we want to understand the human predicament from which he came to save us and the radicality of the solution to that predicament that God offered us in Jesus. Until we realize that it is really the human race, including me/us, rather than a few historical figures in first century Palestine, who crucified Jesus we do not yet “get it.” Until we realize that the reason for his execution is anthropological, theological, soteriological, rather than merely regionally political or religious, and that those factors permeate the experience of the whole human race, we have not begun to plumb the real meaning of the paschal mystery or our own implication in it.

      Jesus’ prophetic ministry of word and work was not merely a threat to the particular domination systems of Rome and Jerusalem. It was a fundamental subversion of domination itself as the demonic structure operative in human history. The incarnation was God’s revelation in Jesus that God is not a supreme power controlling humanity through fear of damnation or extinction, nor the legitimator of human domination systems, but One who has chosen loving solidarity unto death with us to free us from all fear and bring us into the “liberty of the children of God.”

      Jesus was the end of all domination systems, all systems of salvation by the power exercised by a few over the many. No such system, political or religious, could ever again claim divine sanction. It was this definitive subversion of the violent human way of running the world by God’s loving way of luring creation, including us, toward union with Godself that was the ultimate threat Jesus represented. The demonic “world,” the kingdom of Satan, was undone by Jesus who was bringing into existence a new creation, an entirely different “world” which “God so loved as to give the only Son.”

      In this new creation those who held power, Rome and Jerusalem, males and masters, strong and rich, were finished. This is why he had to be killed. The historical reasons were real. But they were the local, even surface, manifestation of the deeper reason which involved the re-orientation of the entirety of human history.

      Analogously, it is not very complicated, or illuminating, to figure out that women’s religious Life is being used as a symbolic scapegoat in the power struggle in the contemporary church between the promoters of the renewal initiated by Vatican II and a program of tridentine restoration. Nor is it difficult to identify who have vested interests in the outcome of that struggle. (This is not to suggest that the stakes in this struggle are not very high or that we should be naïve about the extent of damage that could result.)

      As empire and temple were threatened by the growing sense of empowerment among the oppressed in Palestine, so the absolutist power structure of the institutional church is threatened by the growing consciousness of the People of God of their identity and mission as the Body of Christ. As Jesus was an agent of empowerment who had to be eliminated before he “stirred up the people” and brought down the wrath of the empire on the nation, so those in the church, lay leaders, pastors, bishops, or others — but especially sisters — who are fostering the conciliar renewal must be brought under control lest the “crisis” Cardinal Rodé has named explode and bring about a radical claiming of their identity as the People of God and their mission to and in solidarity with the world God so loved.

      But why the sisters? We must not overlook the crushing of lay initiatives, the banning of progressive bishops from traditionalist bishops’ dioceses, the brandishing of excommunications, refusal of the sacraments or Christian burial, and public condemnations of Catholic politicians and theologians, etc. as we examine the investigation of Religious. This is not a historically unique occurrence and Religious women are not alone as its objects.

      But sisters are a particularly important target for several reasons. First, their sheer numbers and influence. Women religious are not only people who are voluntarily engaged in the life they lead because they are passionately committed to its spiritual and ministerial goals and to Jesus Christ who called them to this life. They are also the largest, best organized, most geographically ubiquitous, most ministerially diversified, and therefore probably most effective promoters of the vision of Vatican II. In some eyes, of course, this means that, as so many lay Catholics have testified, religious are the greatest source of hope for the contemporary church. In other eyes, this means that they are the most serious danger to the “real (that is, pre-conciliar) Church” which these people are trying to restore.

      Second, as relatively public figures in the church women religious are easier to target. The attempt by the investigation to identify in writing every single individual woman religious in the country by name, age, location, and ministry appeared decidedly more than a routine survey to anyone with eyes to see.

      Third, the objects of this investigation are all women. Male religious whose numbers have declined as steeply as women’s are not under investigation even though, in its 1983 revision, canon Law (# 606) specified that women and men Religious should be treated equally unless some specific reason (not based on gender as such) made differential treatment necessary. The Roman Catholic church is the most resolutely patriarchal organization in the western world. Keeping women in absolute subjection to male authority is critical to the maintenance of patriarchy.

      But, as in the question about the execution of Jesus, there is something much more important at stake for religious in the question about the “why” and the “who” of this investigation, namely, the meaning of their life as a participation in the prophetic mission of Jesus rather than as a support system for an ecclesiastical power structure. What understanding of the theology and spirituality of ministerial religious life as a prophetic life form in the church is in contention? What understanding of the critical role of religious obedience in the exercise of that prophetic vocation is in dispute as this current drama unfolds? It is the biblical, historical, and theological examination of these deeper questions that I want to address in this essay.

      God Bless

    4. Helens Bay June 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      Of course it is all about power.
      How does one explain the curia on its hands and knees to SSPX.
      The contrasting treatment within barely 24hrs of schismatic SSPX clerics and faithful American sisters is striking.
      I doubt Rome would have twiddled its thumbs for more than 35 years if some Bishop in Auckland had taken into his head to ordain a bunch of his married friends because of “inconsistencies’and “unfortunate interpretations” on the part of the Vatican_and then make three or for of his best mates bishops as well.
      What about the treatment of Cardinals and bishops who protected the paedophiles with the Boston Cardinal now hiding out in the Vatican.
      They are in fear of the Sisters

    5. Valerie June 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm


      Long time reader, first time poster.

      Mr Sullivan,

      Thank you for posting that excerpt from Sr Schneiders. It shows how far off her understanding of the Church is. One can see a very strong Marxist strain in her thought and attitude towards Christ and the Church. She confuses power with authority. A fairly common mistake, but one that is very clear in Marxist writers, and common among radical feminists.

      The problem with her and all of her ilk, is that she thinks that she is the only interpreter of Revelation. So any authority who disagrees with her, will be cast immediately into the mould that she has set for that authority. That is, they are the ones who Jesus came to free us from, because they are forcing their power upon others. She is protestant. She protests against any religious authority that asks her to change. She is the interpreter of the Revelation, and she alone. There is no real way forward to dialogue with such a narrow minded person.

      She conflates any legitimate authority with willful power. Any time that people disagree with her and her friends, and their interpretation of the Revelation, those people will be considered as power hungry enemies. Especially if those people are people with authentic authority. Her filter for the Gospel is Marxist: oppressor versus oppressed. “Jesus is the great liberator from any oppression, and anybody who disagrees with me, and tries to get me to reform, is my oppressor.”

      She doesn’t really see anything positive about the authentic Magisterium. They are just a patriarchical structure that has got in the way with the movement that Jesus has started. And finally one day, when we all mature properly, we will see that Jesus wants to do away with the Magisterium also.

      She is not a catholic theologian.

      Helens Bay,

      Some of your comments are veering on the ludicrous, and edging towards the conspiratorial. They are two different situations requiring different approaches. I wouldn’t call the sisters faithful. That is a stretch.

      The SSPX people have shown humility and a desire to change, whereas the LCWR have not.

      If the LCWR don’t show some humility and willingness to convert, they will be disbanded. It will be a happy day when that happens. They have done a lot of harm.

      They support woman priesthood, homosexuality as a normal thing, abortion in some situations and many other non catholic moral positions. These nuns are a mixed bag of some good work, and some very evil work.

      Some of their nuns have helped women be escorted into abortion clinics so as not to meet pro-life groups who were praying outside. Would you call that saintly?


    6. Chris Sullivan June 19, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Helens bay,

      Nicholas P. Cafardi has vividly expressed similar thoughts:

      OTOH, I rather think that reconciliation with the SSPX is very much in the style of Jesus and of the LCWR. But it won’t happen if Bp Fellay thinks the SSPX can continue to reject key teachings of Vatican II. But perhaps there is room in the Church for different shades of interpretation after all ? The Holy Father seems to think so.

      And if certain SSPX shades of interpretation can be accomodated, then why not LCWR shades of interpretation ?

      God Bless

    7. Valerie June 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      And if certain SSPX shades of interpretation can be accomodated, then why not LCWR shades of interpretation ?

      Mr Sullivan,

      That is a very good question.

      The SSPX are in many ways, more catholic than the LCWR. That’s why they are given more scope to dialogue properly. The LCWR are heretical in many of their views, and positions, especially the big moral matters around sexuality. The SSPX might be schismatic, but they, like many of our Eastern Christian brothers, who are in schism, are more Catholic than many of those LCWR nuns.

      Women priesthood is a heresy. Many of those nuns still keep clamoring on about it.

      Or put another way. There is more common ground between the SSPX and the true Catholic interpretation of Vatican II, in continuity with the Tradition, than there is between Vatican II and the LCWR. That’s why Rome can come to agreement with the SSPX more easily than with the LCWR. The LCWR have been living in a dream world with respect to Vatican II. Finally that dream world is being smashed by reality.


    8. Benedicta June 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      Helens Bay

      They are in fear of the Sisters

      Probably not as they are not replenishing their ranks.

      The young aren’t following in their footsteps.

      It might become a much smaller Church visible but it won’t look like Schneiders’ church.

    9. Valerie June 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Apparently, the average age of nuns who are covered by the LCWR is 74. Give it ten years and 90% of these nuns will be dead. The LCWR speaks for about 57,000 nuns. In ten years there will about 5,700 of them left, and most of those will be in retirement or nursing homes, or in respite care.
      They are a dying breed who have had no internal vocational fruit. They are sterile. No young catholic woman would want to join such a bitter group of women such as those who sit on the LCWR. I know I wouldn’t. Look at some of them in this picture:

      The orders which are receiving vocations are the ones who have held on to traditional catholic religious life, or new orders which promote it. That’s what the young people who go to world youth day are interested in. I know I’ve spoken to many of them.

      Rome doesn’t fear these sisters. It fears for their souls and for their eternal salvation.

      Sisters of Mercy, criticize LCWR for politicization of the faith

      Hello Benedicta, yes, it won’t be Schneiders’ church.

    10. Benedicta June 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Hi Valerie

      Yes as you say probably true.

      But at the same time we are all in this world and are to greater or lesser degree shaped by it. We all are blind to how things really are a lot of the time and no one can know the eternal perspective.

      New Orders are not utopias or more secure in any way than these existing Orders. The human element remains and can take things off course.One of the moves in the current thinking is that there is a utopia somewhere for us to bring about. There isn’t. So realism, hope, prayer, truthfulness and obedience and a whole lot of right learning might help keep us on the narrow road.

      Go well….

    11. Valerie June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Hello Mr(s) Benedicta,

      You make some good comments. I’m not talking about a utopia. I’m talking about real orders, who have all the normal troubles that one finds in community, but who follow the Church, and live true religious lives. These are the ones who are flourishing, all around the world.

      These other orders which continue to push these agendas like Schneiders and co, have all suffered a calamitous decline. One can tell a tree by its fruits.

      Also, whilst we are shaped by our world, and surroundings, we can rise above it, and through our formation, have a more or less Christian view on things. This allows us to discern with Christ’s prudence. We are given participation in that by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So some things, we can see from an eternal perspective because God has given us participation in it.

      However, as you infer, that does not mean that we judge others, personally. Only God knows a person’s eternal destiny.

      But in this Christian discernment, we can sense, if what people are saying and living is really the true religious spirit of religious life, especially when all their writings are so off track. This is called the “sensus fidei” I think.

      I checked one of those links that Mr Rethul put up.

      Listen to the arrogance from Schneiders:

      “Sisters in the US, on the contrary, play a very vital role… we are the US Church’s most credible body. We have more credibility than the bishops and the priests because we are closer to the people, particularly to those who are oppressed by society and are discriminated against by the institutional Church.”

      She believes in women’s ordination, and thinks that men are the problem in the church.

      Another quote from her:

      “Every aspect of the Catholic faith is not just tainted but perverted by the evil of patriarchy. It is not that the tradition has some problems; the tradition is the problem.”

      She wants to get rid of catholic things like the protestants.

      She is a disgrace to the sisterhood. As a woman I’m sick of women like Schneiders making us all look like petulant children. I love the Church, love the pope, and love real religious sisters.

      In the same edition of the NZ Catholic that Mr Rethul mentions, is a wonderful letter from another woman, Emily Gorman (I don’t know her if anybody is wondering) about exactly this type of frustration. Us women being misrepresented by these bitter old grey-haired loners who claim to speak about women’s rights, but who are completely out of touch with where young women are at in the church.


    12. Helens Bay June 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      You certainly appear to speak as a bitter and twisted younger woman with little understanding of Sisters.
      The greatest influence on the faith of New Zealanders and many other nations have been Sisters and thank God continues to this day.
      As for their age what about the old boys club do you believe they have the answers or as many believe are they living in the past.
      In America thousands have taken to the streets in support of the Sisters and grows every day.
      Try speaking to Sisters who suffered at the hands of the Heirarchy pre Vat2 and hear their stories.
      As for supporting a cult like SSPX as a Catholic words fail me

    13. bamac June 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm


      Reading back through all the comments on this topic so far the bitterness you mentioned comes through in your responses not from Valerie.

      You mentioned sisters having suffered at the hands of the Heirarchy pre Vatican 2 Over many years I have had close contact with many good nuns both here and in Aus. and in New Guinea…… first at school, then in the convent,three years in the mission field and now with the Tyburn nuns …never have I met or heard of any of the problems you spoke of… not until I heard of Sr Joan Chittister and others ( and now Sr Sandra Schnieder and read something of what they state they belive


    14. Benedicta June 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Val

      (Mrs Benedicta…hehehe)Blogs….so hard to express things in so little words. The idea of utopia is not something I think NEW Orders are setting about….rather it is ensconced in the culture….the great better tomorrow…politically reordered. So the mindset is a little hard to shake off. New Orders will flourish but its through God’s work….generally we muck things up.

      Yes, we can rise above the things around us but being united in opposition is easier than actually moving on together.

      Eternal truths we can come to knowledge of those but often the working out of God’s plan and ‘the signs of the times’ are not so easy.

      But in this Christian discernment, we can sense, if what people are saying and living is really the true religious spirit of religious life, especially when all their writings are so off track. This is called the “sensus fidei” I think.

      That can be true certainly.

      I love the Church, love the pope, and love real religious sisters

      Me too!

      Helens Bay…. as always so eloquent. SSPX isn’t a cult, that is a bit far fetched. Actually looking at the history of France as far back as the Revolution and the counter-Revolutionary actions taken by these French faithful (rather like the Irish situation with the English in episode)Vatican II was seen as making peace with these modernist foes. I wonder how YOU Helen’s Bay might have though of Vatican II had you felt in your heart it had bowed the knee to Anglicanism and the See if Peter to the Crown of England? I’m not saying SSPX are right at all but the human story and perspective is easier to understand.

    15. Chris Sullivan June 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm


      Perhaps you’ve heard of some of these sisters who got a raw deal from certain bishops:

      St Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake by English Bishops.

      St Mary MacKillop, who was excommunicated by her Bishop.

      St Faustina, whose famous diary was banned by Holy Office head Cdl Ottaviani and whose Divine Mercy devotion was suppressed.

      Those sisters all turned out to be saints, which is rather more than can be said of the Bishops who cracked down on them.

      Helen is correct that Sisters have sometimes received a raw deal in the Church and reaction to that has fueled some of their attitudes.

      Amy Welborne has written of the mistreatment of U.S. nuns, here’s a somewhat tongue in cheek modern case you might sympathise more with:

      God Bless

    16. worddoctor June 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Hello Marty
      Interesting post. I didn’t know Sr Scneiders was as “out there” as indicated by some of these posts. On the other hand, NZ Catholic does not tell its reviewers to write their reviews to produce a particular kind of outcome.
      It sounds like your issue is, perhaps, as much with Pat Lythe. NZ Catholic expects that its reviewers properly assess books and accurately convey what they sincerely believe. I have no doubt that Pat Lythe did exactly that.
      — Editor

    17. Chris Sullivan June 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm


      “Sisters in the US, on the contrary, play a very vital role… we are the US Church’s most credible body. We have more credibility than the bishops and the priests because we are closer to the people, particularly to those who are oppressed by society and are discriminated against by the institutional Church.”

      Sadly, I suspect that Sr Schneiders is probably correct there. The public reputation of Bishops and Priests has taken a pretty heavy battering in recent years whereas the Sisters are still widely admired by Catholics and by the general public. The wise thing for the Church to do would seem to be to celebrate and promote the wonderful work the sisters have done and still do, as the CDF was careful to do in their recent document on the LCWR.

      Your second quote needs to be read in it’s full context, it has been unfortunately shortened and thereby distorted by many who have quoted it against Sr Schneiders.

      Rather than your misquote :

      “Every aspect of the Catholic faith is not just tainted but perverted by the evil of patriarchy. It is not that the tradition has some problems; the tradition is the problem.”

      What Sr Schneiders actually wrote, in the context of a discussion about the deep emotional anger and frustration many Catholic feminists feel, follows (I’ve bolded the bit you quoted). It’s a piece, not about the objective nature of the Church, but about how some angry Catholic feminists FEEL. This isn’t Sr Schneiders carefully describing what she thinks herself about the nature of the Church, but her attempt to describe the emotional feelings of others :-

      “The onslaught of existential anger faces the feminist Catholic with a new and all-embracing spiritual agenda for which the tradition offers little help. The data of the experience are conflicting. In her heart the feminist Catholic knows that her anger is not only justified but mandatory, just as was Jesus’ anger at the oppressive hypocrisy of the clergy of his day, but this does not allay the guilt that arises from a lifetime of socialization and indoctrination about the unacceptability of this passion.

      “At some deep level she believes in the Catholic faith tradition, but she sees more and more clearly that every aspect of the Catholic faith is not just tainted but perverted by the evil of patriarchy. It is not that the tradition has some problems; the tradition is the problem.

      “She wants to hope that institutional purification and conversion are possible, but there is very little evidence that the male guardians of the patriarchal establishment have any intention of even addressing the problem

      “Beyond Patching: Faith and Feminism in the Catholic Church (Anthony Jordan Lectures)”, pg 98-99

      Admittedly, this isn’t one of Sr Schneiders’ better books, but the quote isn’t nearly so bad in context, is it ?

      I’d recommend readers read Sr Schneiders essay in the NCR. She makes a lot of good points, although some are debatable, and if one is going to criticise her, one at least owes her the intellectual honesty to read in context what she actually says.

      Here’s a wonderful quote from part three of her essay in which she bluntly admits the Magisterium is God’s institutional representative (which is not only something quite amazing from a feminist but is also a whole lot more than the SSPX or the Orthodox Church are prepared to admit):

      The prophet’s direct and immediate experience of God is the root of her or his words and actions. But this activity is often enough critical of or even in opposition to the positions of the legitimate ecclesiastical authorities who are usually presented as, and in fact are, God’s institutional representatives. Jesus’ confrontation with the officials over the woman taken in adultery was not an isolated case. He was frequently in heated conflict with the hierarchy.

      God Bless

    18. Valerie June 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Mrs Benedicta, ;)

      Well said. Especially about the SSPX. Their context needs to be understood.

      Mr Sullivan, certainly, in the past, many people have received raw deals from bishops, even popes. Not just women though. Many people have. Yes, some of them have been saints. Padre Pio suffered terribly from misunderstanding in the Church, especially from bishops.

      But that does not automatically mean that these Sisters are in the right, and that they are the same innocent souls who are saintly victims. You can’t just make a parallel like that and think that they are off the hook.

      That is the mistake of your thinking.

      Helens Bay, just because some priests and bishops, before Vatican II were clerical and abused their office, does not mean that every time some authority is exercised by bishops now (after Vatican II) that they are horribly persecuting some innocent group of martyrs.

      One must discern whether these nuns are humble and docile to the truth or haughty and proud. Are they pushing an agenda which is not catholic? If one reads their theology, and their publications it’s obvious. They are not truly catholic in their thinking.

      Therefore, an investigation by the Vatican is perfectly legitimate and just. They are acting like they are lone-ranger Christians, beholden to none, except their own concept of God and the Gospel, which is an idol. For them, they are validated by their personal interpretation of Scripture, devoid of any proper submission to the Church, which is exactly what the protestant revolt advocated.

      St Faustina, St Padre Pio, were all incredibly humble.

      I have yet to read anything humble in these Sisters’ writings, except self-promotion and vanity, exclaiming how they are prophetic and Spirit-filled, and that they are the most credible group within the Church, because they are so charitable and close to the poor.

      Sorry, but you won’t find that type of self-proclamation among any of those saints listed by Mr Sullivan.

      Some people receive raw deals in the Church. I have no problem with that. But we need to consider that these Sisters have been asked to cooperate for years, but have been refusing to listen. They have created their own plight. They are the authors of their own situation. A bit like that Bishop in Australia who was deposed.


    19. Valerie June 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Mr Sullivan,

      Thank you for quoting more fully.

      I agree that one has to read in context what she says. I did do that. I certainly think she is a very bad theologian, and what you have quoted does not help her cause at all.

      Maybe she has suffered, maybe she hasn’t. Maybe she is just an activist. We don’t quite know.

      But she can’t seem to step beyond her own biases and wounds and disentangle her trouble with paternal figures in her own life, with what God has desired in His Church.

      She confuses the two, and because of her own issues, wants to throw the baby out with the bath water.

      “She wants to hope that institutional purfication and conversion are possible, but there is very little evidence that the male guardians of the patriacchal establishment have any intention of even adressing the problem”

      Can we not see the hypocrisy here? She wants everybody to convert except herself and her gang of saintly women sisters. This is amazing phariseeism as Mr Rethul has already said: “I thank God that I’m not like those horrible nasty men in Rome. I thank God that I do what the Gospel says. Jesus, for you we have remained faithful to the true spirit of your Gospel and stayed close to the poor. Thank you that we have such credibility before you and others. We are prophetic and speak the truth. Not like those horrible men in the hierarchy, who are so cold and oppressive. Thank you Lord that we are the real Christians…”


    20. Abenader June 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      “NZ Catholic expects that its reviewers properly assess books and accurately convey what they sincerely believe”
      Just to clarify, is that what the reviewer “sincerely” believes or the author?

    21. Chris Sullivan June 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm


      Did you read the bit where Sr Schneiders said this:

      Second, some can be tempted to label “prophetic” any kind of protest that is extreme, conspicuous, or stubborn, or to claim the title of “prophet” for anyone whose ideas or behavior are questioned by authority, no matter how reasonably. The truly prophetic are typically very reluctant to call themselves prophets. They know well their fear in the face of conflict and the high cost of putting themselves in the line of fire of angry officials. Furthermore, they recognize the need to receive seriously and incorporate responsibly institutional authority’s positions and concerns into any discernment that influences other people, in or outside the Church. Again, discerning between the genuinely prophetic stance and mob fanaticism, between courage and arrogance can be very difficult. It requires prayer, communal consultation, testing, and a humble willingness to consider seriously all reasonable and respectful disagreement with one’s position.

      She does seem to grasp the dangers and limitations of being prophetic. That’s why we have a Magisterium (whose God ordained authority Sr Schneiders explicitly accepts) and a Body of Christ, a community, to help discern authentic prophecy from inauthentic prophecy.

      And she does have some nice things to say about many men in the hierarchy:

      There were, of course, sincere men among the ecclesiastical officials of Jesus’ time, like Nicodemus (Jn. 3, 7, 19); and the scribe who was “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mk. 12:28-39).

      There are many men of integrity, holiness, and compassion holding office in the Church.

      Those at the margins of the Church are going to sometimes say things that are difficult and challenging. The prophets are often like that. It’s their job to challenge the rest of us, just as it is the job of the Magisterium to make sure the genuine Tradition is upheld.

      God Bless

    22. Benedicta June 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Whether one finds favour with Schneiders or otherwise has in the end to be tested against the foundations she sets herself on. Whether she is prophetic or not rises and falls on the truth of those foundations. Those foundations are not merely opposed for the reasons of polemic, traditionalism, anti-feminism etc The foundations can be tested without a doubt in the light of faith and reason.

      No doubt she comes to some very wholesome conclusions and lights up this or that(such is the nature of error, error may impart some truth but truth doesn’t impart any error) but nevertheless by the foundations she sets herself on her hermeneutics are but one possible reading amongst others. It begins with a pronounced judgement that the biblical texts are intrinsicaly oppressive. Fait d’accompli….it all rolls out from there.
      The door is opened….the texts are up for grabs….and the loudest and best next interpretation wins the day.

      Setting up a concept and reading the text in light of that binds the text, it doesn’t free it at all. It is reading within a system set up by a judgement. A bit of a swindle really.

      It mangles Christology and well everything…

      In short her foundations are unstable and by their own reckoning surpassable. To follow it is to follow mere fashion.

      Once you throw away the score and the conductor you can play pretty much what you like….for some that is a heady sort of spiritual freedom.

    23. muerk June 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      Helens Bay et. al.:

      “… millions of Catholics worldwide respect and love the work performed by Catholic nuns all over the world.”

      When Catholic religious sisters do work in keeping with social justice, eg, feeding and clothing the poor, of course we all respect and love their work. Likewise I have immense respect and love for the work of the Salvation Army. However, like the Salvation Army, the LCWR has problems with their theology. If an atheist feeds a hungry person it is a work of mercy, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with atheism.

      The issue with the LCWR is that they wish to be Catholic, yet not abide with the Magisterium of the Church. If I want to be part of an institution then I have to follow the form that separates one institution from another. If members of the LCWR truly can not in good conscience agree with what Catholicism teaches then there should be no force requiring them to stay within the Church, but if they can not abide by Catholic teaching then they should be honest and admit they have walked apart.

    24. Helens Bay June 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Funny,I remember being taught by nuns at school and they told of a guy who constantly questioned and challenged leaders of the Church in his time.
      The powers that be would have loved him to walk away but no he carried on.
      Unfortunately in the end to keep Him quiet they killed Him.
      There is in fact a great book all about His life and its a great read.

    25. bamac June 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm


      Are you trying to compare these nuns of the LCWR with Christ? REALLY?


    26. John Jensen June 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Helen’s Bay – #24

      So what one may correctly infer is that questioning the leaders of the Church does not prove that the questioner is wrong. It does not follow that all who question the leaders of the Church are right.


    27. Helens Bay June 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      You are Quite correct but they do have the right to question and not be browbeaten.
      The problem is the all knowing men believing they are never wrong!
      Compare the Sisters of the LCWR with the many Bishops and Cardinals who destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent children by protecting pedophile priests.
      Not one of them ever excommunicated and even today court cases against them proceeding in the USA.
      And of course they are Christ like.

    28. Chris Sullivan June 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm


      I don’t know if you have read any of Sr Sandra Schneiders’ books on scriptural interpretation, but she certainly doesn’t “begin with a pronounced judgement that the biblical texts are intrinsically oppressive”, as you put it. Although some other feminist scripture scholars certainly have.

      See, for example, her book “The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture” where she explicitly criticises a feminist consciousness of scripture which terminates in suspicion, and those feminists who have concluded that the bible is hopelessly antiwomen (pg 183). In the preface she sums up her hermeneutical approach which includes a criticism of the limitations of the “historical Jesus” approach.

      You can read extensive extracts from the book online at

      A good short article which is very readable by Sr Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M. on how to interpret the bible in the Catholic tradition, which warns of a number of pitfalls which modern approaches have fallen into, is online here:

      God Bless

    29. bamac June 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm


      Yes, as you keep mentioning on so many threads, some bishops did the wrong thing re abuse cases but that does not justify the members and leaders of LCWR….brow beaten?… Maybe those bishops were not acting in a Christ like manner but neither are so many of the feminist nuns judging from what they say and write and push for.

    30. Chris Sullivan June 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm


      The problem is the all knowing men believing they are never wrong!

      Yes, Cdl Levada’s slip of the tongue about the “dialog of the deaf”, implying that both the LCWR and the CDF are deaf to each other, was a remarkably frank admission which put it’s finger on the central problem of the two parties misunderstanding each other.

      There needs to be a genuine dialogue in the Church. There are some positive signs that the appointment of Archbishop Delegate, Archbishop Sartain, to work with the LCWR may lead to this. Certainly Archbishop Sartain has made some encouraging comments in that direction. It’s by no means unprecedented for Rome to sometimes overstate certain matters and for the resulting dialog to lead to some very positive fruit; the Regensburgh speech and the resulting dialog with Islam being a good recent example.

      Let us keep the various parties in our prayers that some good will come out of all this.

      God Bless

    31. Abenader June 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks for the ‘heads up’ regarding this article. I had a read yesterday and to my understanding, these views are certainly endorsed by the reviewer Pat Lythe. Of course, a reviewer can ‘hide’ behind the fact that they were merely ‘doing their duty’ or ‘fulfilling a function’. However, in this case, one could almost sense the reviewer gushing and glowing over the book they were ‘asked’ to review. A major cause for concern is the position of influence held by people such as Pat Lythe who appear to endorse these ‘Schneider views’.

    32. Benedicta June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm


      I beg to differ. Schneiders maintains we may enable an “intrinsically oppressive text” to crate a “world of Christian discipleship structured by the paschal mystery of Jesus.”. (Feminist Idealogy Criticism). The goal – the paschal mystery of Jesus – is the right goal. (Truth here). But the text is condemned in order for it to situated in another context.(Error here). Her terms for this are ‘decontextualising’ and ‘recontextualising’.

      The approach is foundationalism and her foundations along with other feminist scholars is feminine consciousness. Now the method of taking a stance from a new foundation in order to recontextualise scripture is surpassable. Scripture becomes a tool to manifest whatever foundation it is set upon.

      Scripture is handed over to the next interpreter. What scripture reveals proceeds not from the text itself but from the correlation of the text in light of the experience of the reader. In this way the patriarchal reading Tradition is but their own reading in light of the male experience of hierarchical power.

      And so on it goes. (It never ends its unstable and surpassable).
      Scripture manisfests truth in light of the faith of the Church which is hierarchically ordered in order to hand ON the faith and not dismantle it.

    33. Valerie June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Mr Sullivan,

      Yes, Cdl Levada’s slip of the tongue about the “dialog of the deaf”, implying that both the LCWR and the CDF are deaf to each other

      I think Cardinal Levada was meaning that the Sisters are deaf. That would be my interpretation of his comment.

      I think there is a lot of confusion about the notion of dialogue.

      When a group within the church holds a theological/moral position which is incompatible with the Faith, like women’s ordination, or homosexual acts being ok, or abortion being ok in some cases, then it’s not really a matter of the Faith finding a way to accommodate those views, but a matter of how to bring those who hold these views into the truth of the Faith, already defined by the Magisterium on those points. That is, how to convert them to the truth. That will take discussion, and listening, and respect obviously. But in the end, the Sisters have to accept that it is them who have to change their attitudes, and views. This is not about fine points of theology, but about some fundamentals. That’s why they have been investigated.

      That’s what Cdl Levada is trying to do. It’s not an equal two way street, as much as our equality seeking Sisters would like it to be. They are not another Magisterium which can dialogue on an equal par with the authentic Magisterium, established by Our Lord.

      They are being investigated by the Church to see whether they are fully catholic. That investigation has occurred over a 4 year period. The pope has now authorized a clean up in light of the judgments flowing out of that investigation. Now is the time for accountability and conversion, and change. Are they humble enough to do that?

      If they are catholic, they must accept that the Magisterium has an authority over their teaching, doctrine, and theology research. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the freedom to seek out the truth of the Revelation, and to inquire intellectually etc.

      It just means that they are accountable on essentials.

      And when they propagate views which are judged to contradict the Faith, and its Tradition, including its moral teaching, then they can be called onto the mat to explain.

      If they are shown to be out of step with Catholic teaching, then they have to change their teaching. Not try and tell the Church that they have discovered that in fact homosexual acts are no ok in the eyes of God. That won’t wash I’m afraid.

      It’s that simple.

      They have trouble accepting that they are accountable to men in authority, like all radical feminists. I’m a woman, and I don’t have any trouble accepting that God has established the Church this way. It can be done you know. Women can accept this truth.

      That’s the real problem for these Sisters. Jesus has desired it that way, that only men are ordained, and the Church is a community in a hierarchical communion. And in that hierarchy, the bishops and pope have authority given to them by God to judge in these matters.

      The Sisters seem to have a lack of humility, because they don’t have a deep enough love for the truth. Humility is about being wedded to the truth.

      I’m not saying that every attitude of those men in the Vatican is holy. I’m not saying that every act of those men is holy.

      I’m just saying that these Sisters have to accept that they are in the Church, and when it comes to doctrine, theology, and teaching, then they don’t have free licence to do what ever they want.

      I can’t imagine Mother Teresa kicking up a stink if the pope thought she had some doctrinal misunderstandings. She would have immediately requested to be brought more fully into the truth by those in authority over her. And she would have thanked them for their act of charity in correcting her.

      Mr Abenader,

      Who is Pat Lythe?

    34. Valerie June 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Wow! So well explained Mrs Benedicta. :)

    35. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 8:25 am


      What scripture reveals proceeds not from the text itself but from the correlation of the text in light of the experience of the reader. In this way the patriarchal reading Tradition is but their own reading in light of the male experience of hierarchical power.

      Certainly there is a danger of not proceeding from the text itself (exegesis) but of reading one’s own presuppositions into it (eisegesis).

      A good example would be in Romans 16 where many (male) interpreters down the centuries read “Junius” a male instead of “Junia” a female apostle, because they assumed that all apostles must be male. This was in spite of the fact that many of the patristic fathers correctly read “Junia”; see – men don’t always read patriachically :)

      From what I’ve read of Sr Sandra Schneiders, her point seems to be that we all bring our own presuppositions to the text. I think that’s true and it’s something we all need to be aware of and guard against. The need for the whole Church to have input into scripture interpretation and for a Magisterial authority follows from that, as a necessary corrective to the danger of eisegesis.

      If Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teaching about sexual complementarity as an ontological and deep sexual difference between male and female that is much deeper than mere biology but also extends to psychology, worldview and spirituality, is true, and I think it is, then it would seem to follow that males tend to read a text differently than females.

      I’ve never read Sr Schneiders describe sacred scripture as an “intrinsically oppressive text” – is that a quote from her ?

      God Bless

    36. John Jensen June 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Helen’s Bay:

      You are Quite correct but they do have the right to question and not be browbeaten.
      The problem is the all knowing men believing they are never wrong!

      Not sure what you mean by being browbeaten. From what I have seen of the process, the things that are wrong have been clearly so-labelled but without the persons themselves being attacked.

      Does the right to question include the right not simply to be told you are wrong when you are wrong?


    37. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

      More details leaked from Rome about Cardinal Franc Rode, the man who launched the LCWR visitation:

      Moreover, a priest who in 2009 met with Cardinal Franc Rodé, then the Vatican official in charge of religious orders, told NCR that Rodé discussed a videotape he had seen of Maciel with one of his children in 2004, yet made no move to punish the Legion founder. Rodé, who has since retired, championed the Legion and its lay wing, Regnum Christi, with glowing speeches to the groups for several years after Maciel was banished from active ministry.

      As for Cardinal Levada’s on record on handling sex abuse, see

      It would be naive to think that there isn’t a large does of conservative politics behind the attacks on the LCWR. Conservatives have never liked the nuns strong stand for Justice and Peace.

      I read the CDF document against the LCWR and I went to the original source documents it refereed to. I could not substantiate the CDF claims from the actual evidence. The case against the LCWR seems to be built on sand and on very partisan and uncharitable distortions of the source documents. For example, the CDF claim that LCWR is silent on abortion is simply wrong. And the examples from LCWR conferences and documents are taken completely out of context.

      God Bless

    38. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Here’s an amazing quote:

      I think it’s fair, in part, to blame Church leaders for a spirit of complacency and inertia, clericalism, even arrogance, and for operating off a model of the Church–often for well-intentioned reasons–rooted in the past and out of touch with reality.

      Some radical feminist nun ?


      It’s Archbishop Chaput, OFM Cap.

      God Bless

    39. bamac June 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm


      I too have read the text but do not agree with your stated understanding of it …
      lCWR have had some contraversial speakers at their AGMs … the next invited speaker this august is to be …

      Here is a copy of the document :-


    40. Abenader June 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm
    41. Abenader June 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      I will direct you to an article (originally penned in NZ Catholic) and reproduced here.
      Does there appear to be a link between the ‘book review’ and this article?

    42. Valerie June 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you Mr Abenader. I am reading now. A bit depressing really.

      Mr Sullivan,

      Maintaining that this business of the CDF with the LCWR is just “conservative politics” shows how your understanding of the Church and the Faith is just political. Very shallow.

      You don’t like what the CDF are doing, so you project your political categorization onto it.

      Yours is the political attack on the CDF by labelling them “conservative,” not theirs on the LCWR.

      This issue for the CDF is about catholic orthodoxy, and therefore it is about truth.

      It is not about the Sister’s “justice and peace” work.

      In that document from the CDF they praise the nuns for their work in those fields.

      This issue is about doctrinal and theological errors. A completely different field.

      If a modern-day nazi sympathizer writes a book about gassing the Jews in 2013, but then on Friday nights helps homeless people find shelter, does that mean the government shouldn’t look into his or her views, and ask a few questions, because they help others on Friday nights?

      And if they do ask a few questions, does it mean that the government doesn’t like nazis helping the homeless? Or would it be that the government is concerned about the truth of these views, and how they might affect others in the community, regardless of whether they help the homeless?

      Your political psychological projections are just that: Psychological and Political. Yours is the political maneuvering, not theirs.


    43. Opthomistic June 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      It’s interesting that the LCWR and the Bishops are being compared. There are many allegations of sexual abuse cover up by the LCWR that have not lead to the comprehensive steps that the bishops have taken to address similar claims against the structures they lead. Obviously there is a bit of a double standard being employed here…

    44. Benedicta June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm


      We will have to agree to disagree.

      The Church is the whole Church yes, faithful…as Valerie mentioned ‘sensus fidei’. Even from this alone scripture is not something which can be read from various stances in order to know what scripture means.

      Can a text such as the Second Testament function as a norm for the believing community once ideology criticism developed by feminists unmasks its intrinsically oppressive presuppositions? If the text is not understood as a linguistic object containing a fixed semantic content, and if the leads provided by Ricoeur’s theory of distanciation are applied, the believer may find the Second Testament to be a symbolic structure that mediates the Christ-event as an event that offers possibilities of liberation, even from the patriarchal ideology intrinsic to the text.

      This abstract gives some trend of the ideas forwarded by Schneiders re scripture. As I pointed to in ‘Feminist Ideology Criticism’

      The essential problem is the application of theory which controls the text and from which stance the text appears now as a ‘symbolic structure’.

      Ahmmmm ……..the text has to submit to literist theories in order to become what it actually is? A merely symbolic structure? While it gives it a method by which to ‘liberate’ the text from ‘patriarchal ideology’ it also allows it to be whatever else the symbolic might allow.

      Symbolism here is empty a sign to be filled with meaning.

      Look it doesn’t work with Catholic faith. The text is always proceeding from us and our reading it isn’t something we come to and which transforms us!

      In the end what Schneiders reads out of it by this method also must accept readings from the Destiny Church as well. Same songbook different song.

    45. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm


      I think we both agree that it would be a mistake to read too much into that abstract. One would need to look at the full article.

      There was a time when the view of both feminists and conservatives was that some of the Pauline texts were oppressive to women and slaves. With the “new view on Paul” approach, we have thankfully moved on from that approach.

      But even if one accepts the mistaken conservative/feminist view that Paul was miscogynist and pro-slavery, Sr Schneiders approach offers a way out of that dead end without dismissing the text as hopelessly patriarchal. By seeing past the human failings of the authors to the person it’s all about, Christ. I imagine that at the time it was written (1980’s), that may well have been an approach which helped save the faith of many.

      We may owe Sr Schneiders rather more than she is sometimes given credit for.

      In fact, she is very probably well due the award which the LCWR is going to confer on her.

      God Bless

    46. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm


      Few people would dispute the claim that the CDF is conservative. But what I was really pointing to are the people behind the complaints to the CDF.

      The CDF is always going to be conservative in the sense of conserving the tradition. That’s a good, noble, and necessary thing. But the tradition also needs to develop, and that’s where a narrow conservative approach can be a problem.

      In 1860, the then Holy Office (now called the CDF) issued a responsa endorsing slavery, in 1959 the Holy Office head Cdl Ottaviani banned St Faustina’s diary, and at the 2nd Vatican Council a number of Bishops rose to criticise various actions of the Holy Office as causing scandal to the Church.

      Those who have studied the history of the Church know that the CDF does not always get it right.

      I have yet to see a single substantiated claim that the LCWR actually are guilty of any theological or doctrinal errors.

      God Bless

    47. Valerie June 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      In fact, she is very probably well due the award which the LCWR is going to confer on her.

      Well, they do say that some people receive the glory they are going to get, in this life.

      We may owe Sr Schneiders rather more than she is sometimes given credit for.

      She is given credit for what she has done, i.e., developing very dubious readings of the Scriptures. So, it may be true, that we will owe her a lot of infamous credit for being very wrong, and leading others astray.

      Mr Opthomistic,

      Apparently the LCWR have refused to address sexual and physical abuse accusations made against members of their orders. SNAP desired to have a talk with them about it, and they outright refused. Many people have been harshly abused by nuns also. But that doesn’t fit with the anti-patriarchy trend of these LCWR sisters. They want the abuse crisis to be purely about the hierarchy and about men.


    48. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm


      I fail to get worked up when groups of Catholics invite people of other faiths to address them.

      The Vatican does this all the time, inviting members of just about every religion on the planet, not to mention inviting experts who don’t happen to agree on every aspect of Catholic doctrine and politicians including some of the worst dictators and human rights abusers This is all quite normal, above board, and nothing to get worked up about.

      Pope Benedict XVI invited Hans Kung to meet with him. Does that mean the the Holy Father is in danger of doubting papal infallibility ? I don’t think so.

      I’d be much more interested to know why LCWR invited Barbara Marx Hubbard to speak and what she had to say to them. As the LCWR publish all the speeches at their annual meeting on their web site, I imagine we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

      God Bless

    49. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm


      Yours is one of the few criticisms of the LCWR that actually seems, at least on first glance, to have some substance to it.

      However, it speaks volumes that this most serious alleged LCWR failing does not seem to get a mention in the recent CDF document on the LCWR.

      Proof, perhaps, that the CDF are looking in all the wrong places ?

      God Bless

    50. Valerie June 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Mr Sullivan,

      I have yet to see a single substantiated claim that the LCWR actually are guilty of any theological or doctrinal errors.

      Read the book by Sr Farley.

      But the thing is, you make yourself out to be the judge of the CDF, and any other doctrinal pronouncement from the Magisterium. You are in the same problem as they are; thinking that you can assess every movement of the pope on your own terms. But how do you judge when you don’t know all the facts?

      If you can judge every pronouncement of the CDF and the Pope and every other member of the hierarchy, then you are your own Magisterium. Another Magisterium like that of the LCWR. This personal judgment in matters of faith is, as Mr Rethul has pointed out, a protestant position.

      Even though you have found no evidence against the sisters, why don’t you trust the CDF document that they have found some? And that they have judged accurately and fairly? Have you read every piece of every document that the LCWR has ever written, and all the member writings?

      I just find your position incredibly arrogant, when you have so little of the facts. You weren’t there at any stage during the investigation. You don’t know about any other correspondence that might have been sent to the Vatican by other Bishops in the USA. You are so ignorant (i.e., uninformed) about any of the process. Yet you are so certain about your position. Isn’t that what is called “rash judgment”?

      You don’t trust the CDF do you?


    51. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm


      Sr Farley’s book does contain some serious errors. But it was not written by the LCWR, but by Sr Farley.

      Much of the criticism of the LCWR seems to be like this – people don’t like something some nun once did and then project that onto the whole LCWR.

      That’s a category error.

      The CDF document accused the LCWF of being silent on abortion, but I found a very strong statement against abortion on the website of the LCWR affiliated NETWORK social justice group. I spent some time investigating other claims made in the CDF document. None of them withstood investigation. It looks like the CDF has been sold a packet of lies and distortions by others with an agenda against the LCWR.

      I trust the CDF to teach the truth about the faith.

      It does not follow from that that one ought to trust every investigation the CDF has ever launched against some nun who upset them. Remember SrFaustina’s Dairy ?

      God Bless

    52. Benedicta June 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm


      I think we both agree that it would be a mistake to read too much into that abstract. One would need to look at the full article.

      The abstract was for your benefit. The article is what it proposes.

      You are missing the point – her whole foundation is awry.

      That’s because it can in the end only be an opinion. It can’t be absolute.

      The Church holds absolute truths.

      If the text symbolically mediates the Christ-event then any claim to absolute truth through the texts can’t hold. Rather the texts embody divine truths.

      Sr Farley’s theology (anthropoology) swills from the same trough.

    53. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm


      I don’t see why the texts can’t both contain symbolic structures (a literary form) and divine truths.

      The Pontifical Biblical Commission pointed out symbolic structures in the scriptures here

      And Cardinal Ratzinger hasn’t been afraid to use the term “symbolic structures” with reference to the sacraments.

      The idea that there is just a single valid Catholic interpretation of any passage in sacred scripture is completely against the entire Catholic tradition.

      One of the interesting features of Sr Farley’s book is that it seems to have much more to say about anthropology than scripture. I think her fundamental idea that one can build a valid moral theory of human sexuality from the concept of justice is a very sound one, it’s just that I don’t think that all of her conclusions about which types of sexual behaviours are just are correct. On the other hand, there probably are grounds for showing more compassion and pastoral accommodation in matters of homosexuality and divorce/remarriage (as, for example, the Orthodox Churches do). Sr Farely makes a good point when she says that a lot of people are suffering there.

      God Bless

    54. bamac June 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm


      I read the wording in the link you gave but could not see where there was a direct quote of the Holy Father having refered to sacraments as symbolic structures but have seen references elsewhere where he used the term with reference to sacramentals which is a different thing altogether…. he was talking about statues, Holy Water etc…. did anyone see a direct quote in that link? I can miss things at times.


    55. Chris Sullivan June 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm


      The full Ratzinger quote is:

      We might perhaps content ourselves with what has been said, but the concept of the sacrament is not yet exhausted. The sacrament is, in its essence, symbolical representation, the making present in symbols of a concealed reality. Only in this way does its contrast with a rationalistic, functionalistic outlook emerge clearly. For rationalism, everything that exists is fundamentally “material,” which man causes to “function” and sets him up as a function in his activity. The equality of the whole of reality is based on its total functionality, that is, on the fact that “function” becomes the only category of thought and action. The sacrament, on the other hand, knows pre-existing symbolic structures of creation, which contain an immutable testimony. The symbolic place of man and of woman also falls within this interpretation of reality; they both have equal rights and equal dignity, but each has a different testimony. It is just this that functionalism cannot admit, for its complete activism implies also complete equality, in which everything receives its definition only from the activity of man himself.

      He was talking of the sacrament of the priesthood, but his comment holds true for all the sacraments.

      I can why some might find that surprising, but no it isn’t heresy because sacrament is both symbol and reality. If someone said a sacrament was ONLY symbol, that would be heresy.

      Similarly, scripture can reveal divine truth and do it using symbolic structures, so Sr Schneiders is not necessarily in error in talking about symbolic structures in scripture.

      God Bless

    56. Valerie June 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Mr Sullivan,

      It does not follow from that that one ought to trust every investigation the CDF has ever launched against some nun who upset them. Remember SrFaustina’s Dairy ?

      But we’re not saying that. You’ve misunderstood and used a fallacious reply.

      We’re saying, “why don’t you trust this investigation?”

      We’re not saying trust every investigation.

      You don’t have enough evidence or knowledge of this investigation to take such a negative stance towards it. You simply cannot take the stance you have taken without an ideological a priori.

      This is your argument/position:
      1. Not every every investigation of the CDF is trustworthy (e.g., St Faustina)
      2. Therefore, this one is bad.

      It doesn’t make any sense.

      You can’t conclude that from your premise, however accurate that premise may be.

      At any rate, you’re confusing the St Faustina investigation. There was nothing unethical, or biased, or unfair, or prejudiced about that Faustina diary investigation. It was a normal and thorough investigation, that in the end, because of a faulty translation of the original text, lead the authorities to conclude that it may have had some theological positions which were dubious.

      However, in the end, when the true text was investigated (JPII had a bit to do with that), and the whole was considered, it was concluded that the work contained nothing against the Faith.

      Additionally, when it was investigated, you wouldn’t have found her sisters jumping up and down like you are, claiming blue murder and political conspiracy against her congregation. They awaited with humility, the proper theological judgment of the competent authorities to come to the truth. They accepted that the hierarchy had that role and authority.

      You, without any proper knowledge of the investigation, or the evidence, or the process, have semi-condemned the CDF investigation of LCWR, placed it under a dubious light, and said not to trust it, before it is even finished. Your rash judgment and ignorance is astonishing.

      On the topic of Sr Farley. It’s not that LCWR wrote that book; it’s that they support and endorse those and similar works and theological opinions. They have been doing so for about 20-30 years. That’s why the question of who they have speak at their conferences is important. They promote those speakers and views. They are not just dialoguing and discussing. They actively promote these erroneous views and support them.

      The CDF isn’t stupid. They know what’s been going on. Thankfully, Pope Benedict finally called for an investigation, and a clean up. Thank God for Pope Benedict.


    57. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 6:09 am



      I looked at the allegations in this CDF document and found them very wanting.

      Major Catholic magazines such as America, the Tablet, National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal and US Catholic also investigated the CDF allegations and found them very wanting too.

      The male Franciscan and Maryknoll orders put out statements supporting the LCWR as have many good priests.

      The LCWR certainly do not stand alone, they have very considerable support.

      We need more Catholics standing up for the poor as the sisters are.

      God Bless

    58. bamac June 23, 2012 at 11:14 am


      I looked at the allegations inthisCDF document and found them wanting Where do you get, what you consider to be, superior knowledge from that makes you believe that you can see how wrong these members of CDF are? Maybe from your study and sharing at CTI? Maybe you will want to share these ideas of yours with the congregation after your Ordination come July?

      There is no surprise that the magazines you mentioned support the LCWR as they are all modernistically inclined judging from articles I have read in them.


    59. Valerie June 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Mr Bamac,

      Yes, it is true what you say.

      Those magazines are probably just as uninformed as Mr Sullivan. Those magazines are also very biased, especially the National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal and the Tablet.

      Anyway, who gave any of those magazines and their opinion writers, authority to pass judgment on the CDF’s investigation? Were they involved intimately in the process and findings? No.

      They are all probably made up of people with similar views to Mr Sullivan.

      So it is finally coming true, what has been said here before at BeingFrank? You are being ordained Mr Sullivan?

      From my knowledge, there is an oath of obedience to the Magisterium that is sworn by all candidates to Holy Orders. How can you make such an oath honestly with what you have written on this blog, now and in the past, Mr Sullivan?

      We need more Catholics standing up for the poor as the sisters are.

      Mr Sullivan,

      This is not about whether the Sisters have served the poor. It never has been. They do some sterling corporal works of mercy. Good for them. Jesus will be happy with that dimension of their lives.

      The Vatican praises them for that in the document.

      The issue that the CDF has with them is about other things, especially doctrinal and theological. The radical feminism thing is theological. They don’t have a proper vision of women, and men, as flowing out of from the Revelation.

      They also have a distorted view of religious life, and the hierarchy. I wish they would read the Vatican Documents on religious life, and on the hierarchy (eg, Lumen Gentium 22-25), and seek to understand them more in light of what the Church says is a true interpretation.

      I looked at the allegations in this CDF document and found them very wanting.

      You have made your personal assessment without having enough information of the internal workings of both the CDF and the LCWR. The fact that you think that you can make such a judgment is worrying.

      There is so much that you don’t know about the situation. I don’t know either. But I trust the CDF.

      That’s your problem: you don’t trust the hierarchy.

      You are in a Marxist revolutionary attitude towards the hierarchy, which you deem to be the Aristocracy of the Church, who must be viewed as self-serving, corrupt, and falsely superior in all their decisions and movements.

      For you, everything about the ecclesiastical aristocracy is suspicious and untrustworthy.

      And if necessary, one day they must be overthrown so that trustworthy ordinary people can govern. It’s not surprising, these Sisters often think they same. Sr Schneiders has the same view.

      It’s ironic as you are becoming one of them.

      Or is that because you intend to be a Trojan Horse?


    60. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm


      All I did was read the CDF document.

      It claimed that the LCWR are silent on abortion. So I looked at the NETWORK website (they are the LCWR social justice group also mentioned in the CDF document) and found a strong NETWORK statement against abortion there.

      I therefore concluded that the CDF claim that the LCWR are silent on abortion is not true.

      Then I looked at some of the other CDF allegations and checked them against what I found on the LCWR website. The allegations about the Sr Laurie Brinks address and the LCWR systems handbook. All perfectly above board when read in context (although no doubt subject to the kind of cherry picking for juicy quotes which appear damaging when taken out of context, as we seen in some of the discussion above).

      I didn’t need any superior knowledge.

      I just took the CDF allegations and checked their factual accuracy on the internet. Anyone can do that.

      I don’t believe that the CDF are primarily at fault here. They have been feed a tissue of lies and distortions by political enemies of the LCWR which they appear to have swallowed without sufficient investigation. Reminded me of the rich and powerful which fed lies to the Vatican to get them to close down the Jesuit Missions in South America (so poiniently illustrated in the famous movie The Mission – Vatican moves against religious orders who stand with the poor and oppressed are sadly nothing new).

      I am reminded of the Holy Father’s lament that no-one in the Vatican bothered to google Bp Williamson when he lifted the SSPX excommunications, a mess which the Holy Father had to patch up by issuing a formal letter of apology (something almost unheard of for a Pope to do and a great credit to the Holy Father for having the courage to admit his mistake).

      Support for the LCWR is widespread and bishops would be well advised to tread carefully on this, as Abp Sartain seems to be doing.

      God Bless

    61. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm


      I’m still waiting for a single piece of solid evidence that the LCWR are in heresy on any point of Catholic doctrine.

      The fact that no one on this thread has been able to produce one speaks volumes.

      God Bless

    62. bamac June 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm


      Both the links below explained a lot to me as to what concerned the CDF … you will probobly find what are, in your eyes ,faults with it as you do your own cherry picking

      Oops! my second link has vanished but it is the follow on from the link at the end of the first where it says to read more.

      I didn’t need any superior knowledge The tone of your response certainly gives the impression that you do concider your understanding of the reason for and outcome of the investigation so much more valid than CDF.


    63. bamac June 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Have just read again your statement in #60 where you say …I don’t believe that the CDF are primarily to blame here. They have been fed a tissue of lies and distortions by political enemies of the LCWR which they appear to have swallowed without sufficient investigation …. .. just a couple of questions 1/ Who are these political enemies? and 2/ how do you know that they were lies? CdF did their own research and investigating over a long period … you seem to make it seem a quick reaction…

      I am Mrs. Mac by the way …..a 76 year young Mrs Mac. Thank you for all your worthwhile comments.


      OOPS! apologies for not pressing the closure key after political enemies

    64. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm


      Thanks for posting that.

      I’m always impressed that CDF and bishops Blair and Sartain are much more charitable and measured in their comments than some of the wild anti-LCWR positions one reads on blogs.

      I’ll respond to some of Bp Blair’s concerns:

      1. In her LCWR keynote address in 1997, Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM proposed that the decisive issue for women religious is the issue of faith: “It can no longer be taken for granted that the members [of a given congregation] share the same faith.”

      It’s simply true that no two Catholics share exactly the same faith. We all have slight differences. Dominican faith, for example, is different to Franciscan. What would be of concern would be if that faith was against authentic Catholic faith, but neither CDF nor Bp Blair have said that.

      2. What Bp Blair does not add is that Sr. Laurie Brink, O.P. went on to REJECT the first 3 proposals and STRONGLY ENDORSE the fourth, which was sticking with the authentic Catholic faith. She structured her talk to present 4 choices and had the listeners break into small groups to discuss each choice as she went thru the talk. Considering some bad proposals and rejecting them seems like a good way to get discussion moving.

      3. Fr. Michael H. Crosby, OFMCap, a keynote speaker at the joint LCWR-CMSM assembly in 2004, lamented the fact that “we still have to worship a God that the Vatican says ‘wills that women not be ordained.’ That god is literally ‘unbelievable.’

      IMHO, that last sentence would be a true statement because in the past the Church has ordained women deacons and Pope Benedict in 1060 wrote to the Bishop of Porto authorising him to ordain women deacons. I note that Fr Crosby also seems to be in error here because the Holy Father has confirmed that the possibility of ordaining women deacons remains an open question so it’s simply wrong to claim that the Vatican says ‘wills that women not be ordained’. It would be true of priests, although it would be more accurate to say that the Vatican believes, and has defined, that the Church lacks the power to ordain women priests.

      4. LCWR speakers also explore themes like global spirituality, the new cosmology, earth-justice and eco-feminism in ways that are frequently ambiguous, dubious or even erroneous with respect to Christian faith.

      That there is some ambiguity, even error, in some positions expressed by some speakers may well be true, but I note that neither the CDF or Bp Blair has pointed to any specific cases where that actually was the case (and they have access to the full text of all the speakers going back many years on the LCWR website so if it was there I expect they would have been able to find it and quote it).

      5. their decision to give an award this year to Sr. Sandra Schneiders, who has expressed the view that the hierarchical structure of the church represents an institutionalized form of patriarchal domination that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.

      I would be interested to know if Sr. Sandra Schneiders actually said that, and in what context, and I note that Bp Blair does not directly quote her but paraphrases what he thinks she meant. She may just mean that in certain times past some members in the hierarchy have acted to bring about an institutionalized form of patriarchal domination that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel, which would be true. EG the Inquisition, Crusades, the papal bulls mandating torture and slavery in certain cases etc. Pope John Paul II explicitly recognized that and apologised for it. Ditto Cdl Ratzinger.

      I will give Bp Blair and the CDF the benefit of the doubt that they know more things about the LCWR than I do. And I do expect that both parties could learn something useful from each other so I’m hopeful that the appointment of the bishops to work with LCWR may lead to some helpful discussions and better mutual understandings.

      All in all, I expect good fruit will come out of all this.

      God Bless

    65. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm


      For many decades the LCWR have taken positions against various misuses of United States military, economic and political power.

      (One notes that the CDF have praised the LCWR work for peace and justice).

      Naturally, those powers would like to see LCWR silenced.

      At the moment, the LCWR “nuns on the bus” campaign is raising awareness of how the Ryan budget is going to seriously hurt the poor. It’s a great campaign and bishops share the nuns concern – a good example LCWR and Bishops united. Naturally, sections in the Republican Party are opposed to what the nuns are doing.

      Unfortunately, the theme of the rich and powerful lobbying the Church to reign in certain religious orders they see as an obstacle to their political and economic plans, has been played out many times in the Church. Did you see the movie “The Mission” ?

      God Bless

    66. Chris Sullivan June 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      My impression that Sr. Sandra Schneiders once went thru something of an “angry young feminist” phase which she has since matured out of. There does seem to be a difference between her older writings and her most recent works. Naturally, Bp Blair and Cdl Levada, having been around a long time, probably still remember some of her earlier work.

      God Bless

    67. Don the Kiwi June 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      I am constantly amazed at how you can turn a discussion on women’s religious orders into an attack on the Republican party – it happens almost every time we discuss American affairs.

      Are you still a staunch supporter of Barack Obama, the most abortion friendly president the USA has ever seen; and his anti Catholic policies, and communistic and dictatorial decrees?

    68. bamac June 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm


      Are you saying that Bishop Blair and Cardinal Levada are basing their concerns re Sr Schnieder purely on her earlier writings… that they haven’t kept up with her recent comments and writings? That sounds to me to be almost as big a put down as your condecending sounding remark about giving them the benefit of the doubt back in #64 … of course they would know more about the truth of the situation than would you or any of us.


    69. Valerie June 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Mr Sullivan,

      I’m amazed at how you sit at your desk, on your computer, thousands of miles away, and pass judgment and critique on a few comments made by Bp Blair, as if you are an expert on the situation. And you think that your critiques clear the LCWR of everything.

      Have you no shame? Your lack of self-knowledge and position in these matters is amazing.

      Your critiques don’t carry any weight.

      This is what happens when people read newspapers everyday, and become accustomed to basing their lives and views on the opinion of others all the time. They think that opinions are truth, and make whole world views based on one article, or one editorial, or one edition of a newspaper, or magazine. People who read only NCR, will end warping their church view until they can’t discern properly anymore.

      Further, Bp Blair says that those scenarios are “just a few of the causes for concern”

      You think that you’ve refuted him, which you haven’t, but they are only a few. Why don’t you wait to see what happens before passing judgment. And why don’t you hold your judgment off, as you are too far removed from the real situation to judge. I think that what he has listed there is very concerning.

      I will give Bp Blair and the CDF the benefit of the doubt that they know more things about the LCWR than I do.

      How big of you. So big, that I’m surprised you fit your head through your own bedroom door.

      Benefit of the doubt! Thank God you gave them that. They’ll be reassured now. You should write to them and let them know about the “benefit” you have dispensed to them. Put on your own coat of arms insignature on the letter.

      Bottom line is this: I think I will trust Pope Benedict, who ordered the investigation, and ordered the publication of the document, and the continuing clean up.

      I won’t trust you on this Mr Sullivan. No offense, but you are not credible enough. And you have not provided enough evidence to refute the CDF.

      Mrs Mac, thank you for the correction. Sorry to have called you “Mr”. Great to have such a faithful 76 yr old posting here at BeingFrank.


    70. Benedicta June 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Chris #53

      We seem to have a ‘crisis of symbols’ emerging.

      I agree with ‘symbolic structures’ as you say Pope Benedict and indeed the faith can approach the mystery of faith and the scripture this way…

      But in Catholicism the ‘symbol’ is a ‘received symbol’. Received symbols reveal the reality it is in itself and which we through our coming to the symbolic discover. Hence the symbolism of the Real Presence. In this way symbols and symbolic structures don’t merely signify something they make something concretely present.

      Rather with Scneiders idea of symbolism mediating the Christ event the ‘truth’ of which emerges not from the symbolism itself but from the interpretation which proceeds from the experience of it. Therefore it is a relative sign. It receives its full meaning from the interpreter. It can NEVER be absolute.

    71. Benedicta June 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm


      Just a further clarification…

      The words ‘theory of distanciation, throw light on Schneiders coming to the symbolic. IN otherwords point out the difference between Catholic symbolism and mere signification as symbolism.

      As I quoted #44

      if the leads provided by Ricoeur’s theory of distanciation are applied, the believer may find the Second Testament to be a symbolic structure that mediates the Christ-event

      This link on ‘distanciation’

      Firstly, he takes Gadamer’s suggestion of “distanciation” or alienation from the tradition and shows this to be an important strategy for the emancipation of the text. The suggestion is that a text is a production of a number of moves, beginning with the intention of the author, the disposition of the original auditors, the cultural environment and the socio-linguistic conditions in which it arises. A decontextualisation is necessary before a recontextualisation can take place. Dialogue is not a sufficient condition; discourse has to be reframed and mediated through writing which is open to anyone’s reading of it.

      I think I want to say that it seems crazy to have to distance scripture from the Church and the truth it knows in order to find the meaning of the text. The Biblical Commission don’t go with this at all. The Church was following Christ first before the formation of the Canon. The Church gave rise to the scriptures in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. How can the Church not be its only authentic interpreter for the people of God? Feminists interpretation needs to place is questions and concerns in light of authentic scriptural tradition. Or we end up with modern equivalent variations of Marcionism.

    72. Helens Bay June 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      “This is what happens when people read newspapers everyday, and become accustomed to basing their lives and views on the opinion of others all the time. They think that opinions are truth, and make whole world views based on one article, or one editorial, or one edition of a newspaper, or magazine. People who read only NCR, will end warping their church view until they can’t discern properly anymore.”
      Are you afraid to read the Truth?
      You sound like Richard Nixon`s press secretary.
      I invite you to read 2 articles from todays issue,”A guilty verdict in Philadelphia” and “The Legion of Christ and the Vatican meltdown” or maybe just keep sticking your head in the sand!

    73. Chris Sullivan June 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm


      I must say that the article is beyond my comprehension – too full of arcane jargon.

      Here’s a simpler explanation from Ricoeur:

      A work of discourse, as a work of art, is an autonomous object at a distance from the authorial intention, from its initial situation.. and from its primitive audience. For this very reason it is open to an infinite range of interpretations. There is room for interpretation because the recovery of the initial event of discourse takes the form of a reconstruction starting from the structure and the inner organisation of the specific modes of discourse. In other words, if hermeneutics is always an attempt to overcome a distance, it has to use distanciation as both the obstacle and the instrument in order to reenact the initial event of discourse in a new event of discourse that will claim to be both faithful and creative.

      I found this definition helpful too:

      Recontextualisation is a process that extracts text, signs or meaning from its original context (decontextualisation) in order to introduce it into another context. Since the meaning of texts and signs depend on their context, recontextualisation implies a change of meaning, and often of the communicative purpose too. The Linguist Per Linell defines recontextualisation as:

      the dynamic transfer-and-transformation of something from one discourse/text-in-context … to another.

      (Perhaps John Jensen can shed some light on this – if memory serves me correctly I think he has studied liguistics).

      I’m in two minds on this decontextualising/recontextualing stuff.

      One the one hand, it strikes me as rather risky to divorce a text from it’s original context. Scripture studies spend a lot of time and effort to try to uncover the literal meaning (what the original human author intended) and the Holy Father has pointed to the necessity of the historical critical method to do this.

      On the other hand, it isn’t always so easy to be sure that we really have grasped the authors intent and certainly the historical critical method has it’s limitations in this regard.

      Lots of people seem to read scripture and encounter God in that reading without knowing much at all about the original intent or context. If that didn’t happen, in some sense sacred scripture wouldn’t really be the Word of God. One of the profound moments in my own conversion was reading the Gospel of Luke which was a deep spiritual encounter for me despite the fact that I knew rather little of it’s context, and in my initial reading I probably misinterpreted lots of things. Doubtless I was doing recontextualisation but still God spoke to me very powerfully as I read in that way.

      Scripture itself has reinterpreted earlier texts, and the Church has always discerned multiple layers of meaning (eg the literal/analogical/anagogical).

      Recent documents from the Pontifical Biblical Comission have pointed out quite a range of valid interpretative approaches.

      I think that the idea of multiple layers of meaning is quite sound, and I think there is room for personal interpretation to some extent (the patristic fathers often had different interpretations of the same passage), but I do think there needs to be some boundaries and guidance for what are valid interpretations and what aren’t ie a Church and a Magisterium, otherwise we get what Luther described as every cowherd reading the scriptures according to himself.

      How can the Church not be its only authentic interpreter for the people of God?

      The process by which that happens is that scripture scholars and theologians propose new interpretations (which are invariably new, challenging and considered heretical by some) by writing books, addressing conferences etc which are then considered by the Church (meaning the Church as a whole, people and Magisterium), a proper discussion ensures, and then, over a period of time and reflection some of the new interpretations are accepted and some rejected.

      Feminists interpretation needs to place is questions and concerns in light of authentic scriptural tradition

      I agree entirely. What’s interesting is that, over a period of time, Sr Schneiders, appears to have done just that.

      God Bless

    74. MrTipsNZ June 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

      Good post Marty

      Indeed, Pat Lythe has held far too much sway in the Auckland diocese.

      Articles like her’s are one reason why the circulation of the paper is tanking,
      no-one cares what the VII usurping dinosaurs think anymore.

      Schneiders and her crackpot theology are toast.

      Speaking of which….breakfast time…..I have some precious Marmite to consume….mmmmmm….Marmite

      Chris Pemberton

    75. John Jensen June 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

      (Perhaps John Jensen can shed some light on this – if memory serves me correctly I think he has studied liguistics).

      My linguistics was itself prehistoric. I had the fond idea that words acquired their meaning from a wide pattern of social usage – not from solipsistic ‘my-world-defines-reality’ views. Silly me.

      It’s why – even although I have to grit my teeth to do it – I have to recognise that the word ‘gay’ can no longer be used to mean ‘carefree and cheerful of mood’ – the pattern of usage having destroyed that meaning.

      Decontextualisation appears to me an act of linguistic violence – but then that probably just means that pterodactyls and I are pretty much coaeval.


    76. Valerie June 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Mr Pemberton,

      Pat Lythe has held far too much sway in the Auckland diocese

      What do you mean? Does she work for the Diocese?!

      I invite you to read 2 articles from todays issue,”A guilty verdict in Philadelphia” and “The Legion of Christ and the Vatican meltdown” or maybe just keep sticking your head in the sand!

      Mr(s) Bay,

      I did read those. Actually I had read them before you pointed them out.

      The Philadelphia one was mainly relating facts about what happened, wasn’t it?

      The other one, on the Legion, is part facts, part secret comments gleaned from secret sources, and part opinion. Hard to know what to trust in all of it. I think Jason Berry is probably right, but we need to be careful of taking everything he writes as gospel.

      I have no doubt that his general thrust is right: that the Legion was off-track from the beginning, and there has been some very dodgy dealings going on, reaching right up to Cdl Sodano. But that doesn’t mean that everything about it is corrupt, and it doesn’t mean that everything the Vatican does is corrupt. There are good men in there, and the Holy Spirit is still governing the Church.

      The danger for many people, and this is confirmed by many of the comments written beneath such editorials over at the NCR, is that they read those articles, then make huge sweeping judgments and statements that the Vatican and all it’s men are corrupt, and polluted. They think that the entire hierarchy in Rome is implicated, and that they are all just money and glory hungry.

      It’s a sign that they only read what they want to hear, or that they are one dimensional in their thinking.

      They think it is all fact what is written. They don’t realize that much of it is just one person’s opinions, weaved throughout many facts, or unverifiable statements.

      Also they have to be careful about trusting how some quotes are placed within the overall articulation of the editorial. Sometimes they are taken out of context in order to make it seem a particular way.

      Mr Sullivan has a long history here at BeingFrank of selectively quoting, and deliberately giving the wrong impression about certain phrases by doing so, if my reading memory serves me correctly. Others here have had to constantly correct him about it.


    77. South Sider June 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Pat Lythe is the parish and pastoral services group leader for Auckland diocese. Her office is about 10 metres from the bishop’s at the Pompallier Centre. In 2008, she was made a Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great by Pope Benedict XVI, after 40 years of service to the church.

    78. Helens Bay June 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      South Sider
      How ironic,the majority of BF posters want her burnt at the stake and the Pope makes her a Dame.!!

    79. bamac June 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm


      How dramatic you sound …the majority of posters on BF want her burnt at the stake quote one please…

      Can someone tell me when it was that Pope Benedict gave Sr Sandra Schneider that knighthood? I tried to find the date on Google but couldn’t find it there at all.


    80. Don the Kiwi June 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      No HB.

      The majority of BF posters, I’m sure, recognise that Pat Lythe has done much good work in the Auckland diocese, and the Pope, through the offices of others, has recognised that.

      That does not mean, however, that all she does, writes, or thinks is necessarily in conformity with the Church – she, like any or all of us – can be in error on a given point, or attitude. EG, at one stage, I seem to recall – open to correction – that Pat was in favour of female ordination to the priesthood – that is obviously at odds with Church teaching.

    81. Valerie June 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Mr(s) Bay,

      Fascinating revelations.

      She has worked for the Auckland Diocese for a long time then?

      How long has she held these Schneider-esque views?

      Whomever she is, to me, it is more ironic, if not downright bizarre, that she would accept such a title as “Dame”, from an Institution which she deems to be misogynistic, patriarchal, and unjust. Assuming of course that she is with Schneiders and the LCWR on those views. The tone of the review in the NZ Catholic would suggest that she does stand squarely with Sr Schneiders.

      For her, and others of her position, would it not be akin to receiving and accepting an award from Mussolini, or Stalin?

      Remember, this same Pope, from whom she accepted that honour, is the same Pope who has ordered the investigation into her friend Sr Schneiders, and all those LCWR nuns.

      It’s the same Pope, who as Cardinal Ratzinger, investigated many doctrinal problems in the Church, and censored many dissident theologians like Schneiders, whilst barring certain others from being Catholic theology professors. It’s the same man who confirmed that women can never be ordained priests. It’s the same man who confirmed that Anglican Orders are invalid. It’s the same man who has confirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception (something which most radical feminists hate). It’s the same man who has repeated many times that homosexuality is a affective disorder, ordered towards an intrinsic evil. It’s the same Pope who lifted the ex-communications from the “nasty” traditionalist SSPX Bishops, and who freed up the “ghastly” Tridentine Mass.

      Surely, accepting such an award from the Oppressor of the “Spirit of Vatican II” would be like collaborating with her sworn enemy?

      Mr Don the Kiwi,

      Yes, I don’t want her burned. I don’t know anything about her.


    82. Helens Bay June 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      The award was given to Pat Lythe not sandra schneider,don`t forget your glasses!!

    83. Chris Sullivan June 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      I thank God for such wonderful, faithful and dedicated servants of the Church, true children of the Ecumenical Council, as Dame Pat Lythe.

      God Bless

    84. Benedicta June 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Dear Val

      Take heart! I was in said shocked position as you are (different subject matter but still close to this blog….very close indeed).

      The Catholic Church is a very broad place broader than one can imagine (like Farley’s book).

      Why so much seems in our face rather than at the edges where borderland people normally reside can be gleamed from a certain person called Gramsci.

      Gramsci favoured a ‘march through the institutions’ as the best way forward for revolutionaries.

      The stop to women’s ordination was the biggest problem for an outright goal to be achieved and so things remain at committee level. A wee bit of a problem…unless you could possibly convert a bishop or two and sell them some good ideas. (A possible suggestion not an accusation).

    85. Valerie June 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Yes, thank you for your words Mrs Benedicta. It explains a lot.

      I didn’t realize that she worked for the Auckland Diocese, and is in charge of some things.

      So ironic: Dame Pat Lythe, which can be translated as Lady Pat Lythe, is reminded by her title, given to her from the all male Catholic Hierarchy, that she is a woman, and will never have access to be part of that Magisterial Hierarchy; something which she may well have desperately desired.

      Yes, let’s celebrate that she is Lady Pat Lythe!

      I wish women would read up about Mary. She is our model. The way forward out of this confusion.

      Watch this if you want to laugh-out-loud about the LCWR. It’s very clever.


    86. bamac June 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Voice in the Wilderness ,in the post of the June 23rd, has given us a link to a video, which leads on to others, which give a positive side to religious life … Sr Schneider mentioned the falling away of the number of vocations but the number is growing in orders more traditional …It is well worth watching.


    87. Valerie June 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Mrs Mac,

      Yes, I watched that. It was great. There also seems to be a real revival going on in Europe in the monastic abbeys. At world youth day, it is so amazing to see religious sisters in habits everywhere! And they are so joyful and full of the Lord. They love their vocation and love God.


    88. Valerie June 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Does anybody know how to embed Youtube videos into this blog?

    89. Abenader June 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      In case it is not obvious (as yet), there are two Catholic churches in NZ. The false NZ catholic church and the true Catholic church in NZ. As a well-informed ‘been round the block a few times’ convert has told me, the modernist crowd got ‘all’ the power, buildings, money and titles too boot.Those few (and they are few – I guess CS will ask for proof, duh!) loyal to the All male hierarchical Rome are ‘tut-tutted’ and ‘kindly’ pushed to one side. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing.

      Helens Bay
      Do you say the Rosary, my sister?