In David Gibson's report on Cardinal Muller's 9/1/14 interview in L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Muller says his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wants LCWR "to rediscover its identity"
--- which CDF knows and LCWR doesn't? What condescension! Please, Cardinal Muller, read LCWR's recent Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times as an "LCWR 101" start. I've never known individual women or any group who are more aware of who they are. Here's a more homespun example than the superb book - the reply when Mary Gordon asked "a leading nun" why she remains in the church and a woman religious. The sister said: "Why would I leave a way of life that has been so fruitful for me, that’s given me so much. That allows me to live in a way that is so right for me? We offer community, we offer a real spirituality, we know how to listen, we know how to be with the dying. It’s very precious. I wouldn’t let it go. And I’d much rather focus on that than on the famous ‘dwindling numbers’ It’s not about numbers. It’s about who we are, what we are and can do in the world."
Cardinal Muller seems to belittle LCWR as insignificant, "just a group of North American nuns who form part of an association"
--- vs being composed of the leaders of 80% of US nuns.
He seems to allege LCWR is out of touch with sisters in its member congregations
--- vs being one of the most united groups imaginable, representing 50,000 women religious. Deep and pervasive communal prayer and discernment guide the group. OF COURSE some sisters disagree with the direction chosen; can you think of any group of 50,000 that marches in lockstep?
He renews the criticism that declining membership is a sign of LCWR problems
--- and ignores the fact that LCWR and the more conservative group representing 20% of Catholic women religious "are drawing about the same number of new postulants and both face similar challenges of a declining and aging membership." But the more conservative group, the Congregation of the Major Superiors of Women Religious, has no Vatican mandate for change.
He says CDF is trying "to reduce hostility and tensions."
--- Really? By publishing his April 2014 attack, and now this September 1 reprise? LCWR and Archbishop Sartain, the CDF's delegate, have the grace to talk to each other in unpublicized, genuine attempts at dialogue, rather than sending out condemnations in the press. The contrast in process and in inherent dignity and respect is immense.
"Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don’t want to gobble up a woman a day!"
--- Hmm. My mind keeps replaying my mother's refrain: "Actions speak louder than words."
Is this what you read here, too?
Again, why? Cardinal Muller didn't need to do this. He chose to insult LCWR in a very public forum, the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, just as he chose to publicize his harsh opening remarks from his April 2014 meeting with LCWR.
As far as I can find, his publication of those opening remarks was unprecedented. Previous CDF-LCWR meetings yielded no published remarks.
Take him at his word. Ignore his ignorance that conservative congregations are also declining in numbers. As reported by David Gibson, Cardinal Muller said "the Vatican wants to help the LCWR congregations 'rediscover their identity' because he said the orders 'have no more vocations and risk dying out.'" So, all you parents out there, all you people who've worked successfully with other people in any capacity: are public attacks a good method to express care, concern, and encouragement to discover one's deepest identity?
Cardinal Muller has the age and wide experience to know the answer. Yet he still attacks in public, while a quiet process of dialogue proceeds between his delegate and LCWR.
He heads the Vatican group that might be most directly responsible for keeping the Church true to the teachings of Jesus. Is he showing us how we're supposed to act as Church? Public condescension and insults? In the schoolyard, would this be labeled bullying? How does this help? Who does this help?
I'm serious with that last question. I'm very curious about the answer.