I’m not a theologian, and I don't know the academics and theologians who focus on conscious evolution. I'm just a reasonably educated Catholic laywoman who has walked closely with LCWR since the April 2012 mandate. It seems to me that, substantively, LCWR continues to both uphold and live core Catholic truth. Are there translators – including male theologians and bishops – who can help make this clear to Pope Francis and CDF?
I wish the Vatican could move beyond theory and language to recognize LCWR as an active, inspiring example of conscious evolution in Christ. As Barbara Marx Hubbard put it in her NCR piece today, Catholic sisters have been doing conscious evolution for centuries. In a general sense, isn’t conscious evolution just what Perfectae Caritas directed women religious to do?
To my mind, LCWR’s new book on Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times magnificently illustrates both the process and the fact of deliberate (conscious) evolution. LCWR’s fuel is contemplation, community, and the discernment that comes in prayerful communal reflection. Its roots are life in Christ, attentiveness to the charisms and courage of foundresses, alertness to the signs of the times, solidarity with people on the margins. What happens? “Behold, I am making something New.”
The presidential addresses in LCWR’s book reiterate those foundations as they evolved during the past 50 years. The addresses also show something wonderful and remarkable in a very large national organization: genuine candor. Each address has the kind of openness that I use mostly with close friends. Each presumes that members will reflect with one another with the same honesty and authenticity.
LCWR’s way of leadership sets it apart from other organizations I have known. Barbara Marx Hubbard today called it LCWR’s “genius for cooperative self-governance and decision-making.” I think that way of leadership is the best kept secret in the Catholic church.
[I hope it becomes contagious. I hope this way of leadership can further wise evolution in a very widespread way. To spread it, Solidarity with Sisters is hosting a June 7 public conference at Catholic U. in DC on Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times. Join us in conversation with LCWR former presidents Pat Farrell, Mary Hughes, and Helen Maher Garvey, and current LCWR associate director Marie McCarthy. CUA’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies is our co-sponsor. Our group thinks LCWR’s “genius for cooperative self-governance and decision-making” speaks to leaders of all kinds.]
At some level, I was taught "conscious evolution" along with the Our Father and the Baltimore Catechism. We are called, together, to consciously move into ever deeper union with God and with one another and with all creation - and in our union, to let "Thy Kingdom come." Isn't that the longing within our faith, hope, and love?