Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He has written and/or edited nine books on faithful Catholic spirituality and is the Executive Director and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com.
In a recent conversation with a faithful religious sister, I stumbled upon a disturbing reality that I have since confirmed is not isolated to her order. She relayed to me that donors contacted her order because they were outraged at how the Vatican was treating them. She had to go to great lengths to help the donors understand that the "attacks" being so widely discussed in the public arena are a fabrication of the media and of some religious whose hearts have gone far astray from the Church. The sister explained that this issue is so serious that it prompted the initiation of specific projects aimed at helping their supporters understand that the religious world represented by the media and the LCWR is nowhere near representative of the total reality of women religious in the U.S..
So what is it these faithful women desire the world to know? That they live in harmony with the bishops and the Pope and fully embrace all Church teachings. That they are joyful in their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (in the construct of their original meaning). And that they will continue to pray for and joyfully serve the Church they love.
While the LCWR membership continues its dramatic decline, thousands of new nuns and sisters are giving their lives to vibrant, faithful orders, as they put into action their dedicated and loving service to the Church and the world.
One of the great privileges of our work at the National Catholic Register is that we have the opportunity to counteract the distortion in the secular media that is often birthed out of the ranks even of those who claim to love God, the Church and those in need. Yes, to be clear, there are many within the LCWR that do love and worship in spirit and truth. They are the many who are undervalued, mistreated and who still quietly give their lives away on a day-to-day basis.
The untold story is that these faithful nuns and sisters are often not supported by the work of those who make up the LCWR. We are aware of many who are suppressed by their very own leaders (those nice sounding ladies you see at the press conferences who speak in soft, gentle and peaceful tones of “dialogue” and "contemplation"). You heard me right. The surface claim that these women live in democratically ordered communities and that these communities are perfectly represented by the LCWR is, in fact, often not the case. These suppressed nuns and sisters cling to the charisms that moved their hearts to give their lives to God. They cling to the Church, the holy Mother that gave birth to the love of their devotion. In response, they are often denied representation in their own orders. Their desires are supplanted by those who are politically motived and claim the mantle of their charisms, but who have long abandoned any semblance of their founders’ visions.
The Register has worked diligently to report on this issue accurately and with charity. Here's a breakdown of the majority of our coverage of the news and commentary:
- Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR: Safeguarding the Integrity of Consecrated Life — Mother Assumpta Long, April 2012
- Call to Obedience — Editors, April 2012
- When Reverend Mothers Cease Being Motherly – Is the Vatican Attacking Nuns? – Tim Drake, May 2012
- What's Going On With the LCWR? — Donna Bethell, June 2012
- The LCWR, CDF and the Doctrinal Assessment — Bishop Leonard Blair, June 2012
- LCWR Leader Given National Platform to Uphold Church Teaching. What Did She Say? — Donna Bethell, July 2012
- Bishop Leonard Blair Takes on the LCWR — Donna Bethell, Aug. 2, 2012
- LCWR Prepares to Discuss Response to Vatican Mandate to Reform — Ann Carey, Aug. 3, 2012
- Futurist (Read New Age Guru) Addresses LCWR Assembly — Ann Carey, Aug. 8, 2012
- Day 2 of the LCWR Assembly: Contemplating a Response to the Vatican — Ann Carey, Aug. 9, 2012
- LCWR Assembly Day 3: High Expectations — Ann Carey, Aug. 10, 2012
- Reflections on the LCWR Assembly — Ann Carey, Aug. 11, 2012
- Register Radio: New Age Influence at the LCWR Assembly — Fr. Mitch Pacwa/Ann Carey, Aug. 17, 2012
I pray that our compilation of this coverage here will help to equip you with the truth about this tragic situation — and inspire you to share it. Another great source for the history of this tragic unraveling is Ann Carey’s book, Sisters in Crisis. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all who seek to truly understand the good and the tragedy that are both present in women’s religious communities at present.
As demonstrated in the recent invitation of futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard to speak at the LCWR assembly, there has been throughout much of the organization’s leadership, an abandonment of Christ and his Church for an alternative vision of God that is in no way compatible with the Catholic faith. We hear much about “dialogue” and about affirmations of Church teaching, but it is abundantly clear that the chasm between those claims and reality is vast. Please pray for these leaders, and the work of the CDF — and support those nuns and sisters that not only claim to be faithful to their vows, but who demonstrate it in their daily immolation for and with the Church.