Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are American Nuns Being Oppressed By Vatican? Depends On the Viewpoint ( Links )

There seems to have been 2 atomic bombs that have gone off in the Church this week that has great ramifications on American Catholics. Sadly we might have one go off in West Virginia too a situation in which I am monitoring right now.

The first atomic bomb was the first REAL CONCRETE signs of reconciliation with the Society of St Pius the X. I will comment on that later.

The second is the what the media calls the Vatican "crackdown" on American nuns. To be more specific it really has to do with leadership in their hierarchy. An overview of the document is here as well as to Vatican document itself.

People should read the document before jumping on "outrage" bandwagons I think.

Get Religion has a good post up that comments and looks at how the secular press covered it , and offers some corrections. See Vatican to sisters: Enough moving beyond Jesus

I myself agree with the comments made by Father Robert John Araujo, S.J. , who contributes at the Catholic legal blog Mirrors of Justice when he says: "While some may argue that the document will generate further tensions, I see the report as one filled with good faith to work with the LCWR to address and remedy serious concerns." .

A few thoughts combined with a perhaps forgotten past sort "crackdown" on an American nun.

First I generally love, and respect these Sisters though I have been at odds with them at times.

I was very involved in Campus Ministry on a Statewide level in Louisiana in my college years. It was a very "Sister" run operation for the most part. Further it was a very Progressive run "Sister" operation that at every opportunity seemed to want impress on young minds why the Church was wrong on X , Y, and Z.

That does not mean that all they said or promoted on young Louisiana College minds was bad.

For instance they were strong on Social Justice. However they were not very open to giving alternative views ( The Church Position) on the a variety of issues. This "dialogue" was in effect a monologue. I have to say it caused some damage. I might further add they were quick often in a subtle way to freeze out people that might disagree. It was done with the best of intentions but it happened. I mention that because that was the dynamic repeated in many settings accross the American Church

Second , I do feel for the Sisters here because getting fraternal correction is not easy for any of us. This is very true for those that think of themselves of the Guardians of Justice , and the folks whose job is the calling out of whitewashed tombs.

The problem is playing the role of Jesus calling out the hypocrite comes with some risks. That is the examination of your own ethos is well never a comfortable thing. This is especially hard when you are so used to getting applause among the popular folks.

The people outraged , as often it is in this matters, are outraged because they have a stake in what some Sisters are saying and doing. We see this dynamic in both conservative and progressive circles.

That is they are invested in a message that seems to be very critical of one political party , their sexuality views on many issues, their rebellion against Church authority and structures, and many other matters some good and some bad from my viewpoint.

I was thinking back to the old days of the 1990's about another troublesome nun , and a beloved Liberal Catholic Cardinal. That being Mother Angelica and Cardinal Mahony .

It should be recalled this was before the sex abuse problems in Mahony's Archdiocese was largely exposed so he had a great deal of popularity among the progressives.

For all practical puposes Mother Angelica and EWTN was the "dissent" as to the real situation on the ground in American Church of the 80's and 90's. Some Bishops were not too excited to have her TV station on cable systems in their Diocese. She was bothersome.

So when Mother Angelica got into a public dispute with the Cardinals progressives were not too concerned about different ideas as I recall . From 1998:

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles has taken his complaints about Mother Angelica and her cable television network EWTN to the Vatican, according to the cardinal’s spokesperson. Sources close to mahony say he intends to demand fundamental changes in both the management style and the on-air tone of the controversial Catholic media outlet.

“The cardinal wants the Holy See to do something about Mother Angelica’s whole attitude that she is not responsible to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops or to any of the individual bishops,” said Capuchin Fr. Gregory Coiro, director of media relations for the Los Angeles archdiocese. “It goes beyond her criticism of the cardinal — it’s about how the network operates and to whom it is accountable,” he said.
While Mahony was in Rome for the recent Synod for America, Coiro said, he approached the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, under the direction of Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications under American Archbishop John Foley. In both cases, Coiro said, Mahony discussed
EWTN and the changes he thinks are necessary.
To date, Mahony has not received a formal response from either office, Coiro said.

On her nationally syndicated television program Nov. 12, 1997, Mother Angelica criticized Mahony’s
pastoral letter on the Sunday liturgy for what she regarded as insufficient emphasis on the real presence of Jesus in the eucharistic elements of bread and wine. She called on Catholics in the Los Angeles archdiocese to practice “zero obedience.” Though expressing regret for those remarks on her Nov. 18 show, Angelica took that occasion to deepen her criticism of the pastoral letter (NCR, Dec. 5).

After having initially protested Angelica’s remarks in a Nov. 14 letter, Mahony wrote her again on Dec. 1; Coiro read portions of that letter to NCR. In it Mahony wrote, “What saddens me most is that EWTN has such potential for being a positive tool for the new evangelization … [but] when a network features programs that attack and criticize its own bishops publicly, how can that build up the body of Christ, the church?”
Mahony demanded that Angelica read an apology on the air, to be written by Bishop David Foley of Birmingham, Ala., where EWTN is located. Mahony asked that the apology be read a minimum of four times between Dec. 1 and Dec. 25. According to Coiro, no such apology occurred.

“What must non-Catholic viewers who were watching the program on Nov. 18 think?” Mahony asked Angelica in his Dec. 1 letter. “Would they have been interested in your level of ‘confusion’ about my pastoral letter or would they have been more interested in hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and his saving presence within our church?”

Mahony now appears to want more than a retraction from the TV nun. According to sources close to Mahony, he believes EWTN should be reoriented so it plays what he feels is a positive role in the church’s evangelization efforts and cooperates with the U.S. bishops in how it goes about that task. The cardinal thinks that EWTN’s broadcasts sometimes “damage and diminish” positive work being done in the church, those sources told NCR. What changes such a reorientation would mean in practice is not yet clear.

According to Coiro, Angelica’s remarks about Mahony and his pastoral constitute “technically, a very serious violation of canon law.” In his letter, Mahony referred to Canon 753, which obliges catholics to respect the teaching office of the diocesan bishop and specifies that only the pope and whoever at the Vatican he empowers may correct a bishop’s teaching.

Coiro said he also feels Canon 1373, which forbids anyone from exciting disobedience against the pope or the bishops, and provides for interdiction or other “just penalties,” would apply to Angelica’s remarks. An interdiction is a church penalty that deprives Catholics of certain spiritual privileges, such as the right to receive the sacraments.

Mahony is consulting canonists to determine what options exist to bring pressure onto EWTN and Mother Angelica, sources told NCR. At the same time, however, they said the cardinal wants to avoid a protracted public fight with Angelica, so much of this activity is going on behind the scenes.

Coiro said he wasn’t sure what response Mahony is hoping for from the Vatican. “Is he looking for Rome to slap an interdict on EWTN, which technically would be justified under the circumstances?” he said. “Probably not, though I wouldn’t rule it out. But what other options are being explored, I don’t know.”
Coiro said he also was not sure when Rome would respond. “Sometimes things in Rome move slowly, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “But one thing is sure — we’re not just letting it drop.”
EWTN spokespersons did not return phone calls seeking comment for this article. Foley of the Birmingham diocese likewise indicated through an assistant that he did not wish to comment. The assistant said that Foley was “dealing directly with Cardinal Mahony” on the matter.

Mahony or other prelates seeking to influence EWTN may find tough going. At the 1996 “Call to Holiness” conference in Detroit, Angelica told a story about “three or four” bishops she refused to interview at a bishops’ meeting. She said they demanded to know by whose authority she turned them down, and she responded, “I own the network.” According to Angelica, when the bishops said she wouldn’t always be there, she responded, “Well, I’ll blow the damn thing up before you get it” (NCR, Dec. 6, 1996).
EWTN claims to be the world’s largest religious cable network, with 1,600 affiliates reaching 54 million homes. According to its Web site, EWTN is shown in 34 different countries and four territories. Additional millions are reached through EWTN radio and Internet broacasts.

In a related development, Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Youngstown, Ohio, diocese — Mother Angelica’s home diocese — recently published an appeal in his diocesan newspaper for Angelica to invite Mahony onto EWTN to discuss their differences. Sources close to Mahony say he has received no such invitation and has no plans at present to appear on the network.

COPYRIGHT 1998 National Catholic Reporter

Mother Angelica later apologized. I think she was right to do so. She went too far.

However looking back many voices expressing outrage today ( recall there was really no internet social media so mostly Progressive Catholics controlled the media ) did not see all that concerned about the "oppression". That was because they did not have a stake in her message.


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