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Release Father Rutler!

So, New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard addressed the liberal nun hootenanny, and The New York Times was there [1]:

With their leaders saying that they stand at a historic crossroads, more than 900 Roman Catholic nuns have gathered here for a four-day meeting to decide how to respond to a biting Vatican [2] assessment that cast them as disobedient dissenters and ordered three American bishops to overhaul the nuns’ organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The nuns’ meeting on Wednesday in a vast hotel ballroom here exemplified the melding of traditional Catholicism and modern innovations that has so perturbed the Vatican. They sat in silence for a long stretch, sang songs about truth and mystery accompanied by a guitar and a choir, and heard a keynote address by a futurist who was escorted to the podium by seven liturgical dancers waving diaphanous scarves of pink and tangerine.

I’m sorry. Wait. Wait. Wait. Ahhh. [3] That’s better. The diaphony gets me every time. Onward:

“Crisis precedes transformation,” the futurist, Barbara Marx Hubbard, told the nuns. “You are the best seedbed that I know for evolving the church and the world in the 21st century. Now, that may be a surprise to the world. But, you see, new things always happen from unexpected places.”

Mmmm-hmmm.

The nuns, most dressed informally in pants or skirts, gave a standing ovation to Ms. Hubbard, a beatific presence with a mantle of white hair who quoted Jesus, Buckminster Fuller, the Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the current pope, Benedict XVI.

But if the nuns submit to the Vatican’s plan to overhaul their organization, it is doubtful that their meetings will feature a keynote speaker like Ms. Hubbard, who grew up a nonreligious Jew in a Scarsdale, N.Y., mansion (her father founded the Marx toy company) and is now acclaimed by New Age luminaries like Deepak Chopra for helping to lead what she calls the “conscious evolution” movement.

change_me

Benedict is a nice man. If Pio Nono were still in command, I think we all know what he would do.  [4]

By the way, an Natl Catholic Register reporter at the event had this [5] to pass on:

In the first open session, the featured speaker, futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, was led through the assembly hall at the Millennium Hotel by several sisters who were waving orange scarves draped over their arms.  [6]

Once on the stage, the sisters moved in a circle around Hubbard as they raised and lowered the scarves and the assembly was asked to extend their hands in blessing while singing, “Spirit of vision, Spirit of life! Spirit of courage, be with her now! Wisdom and Truth be on her lips!”

Release the hounds? I take that back. Instead, Release Father Rutler! 

 

38 Comments (Open | Close)

38 Comments To "Release Father Rutler!"

#1 Comment By Liam On August 9, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Well, a satsang around Ms Hubbard….

#2 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On August 9, 2012 @ 9:42 am

This is an organization governance question.

Does the LCWR act like the employer of these nuns, or more like a professional organization?

If it’s the former then funding comes from the Vatican through the LCWR which pays its members living expenses. If it’s the later then this is more of a voluntary organization and the nuns have other resources to fall back on.

The reason I ask is that organizational discipline always comes down to organization governance and money. In the former case the Vatican wields a lot of power. In the latter case they don’t.

#3 Comment By Andrea On August 9, 2012 @ 9:47 am

Yeah, so? Yes, they’re liberal, at least by your standards, though I suspect their actual beliefs are pretty middle of the road by most people’s reckoning. Most of them came of age during the 60s and Vatican II. Their keynote speaker endorses the idea that they can affect the development of the world by the positive choices they make. The scene described by the National Catholic Register sounds like an exercise that is intended to give them clarity of vision and strength to make the right decisions for their group.

None of what has been described here suggests to me that they do not believe in God or in the Catholic Church.

#4 Comment By Frank OConnor On August 9, 2012 @ 10:03 am

Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.

#5 Comment By WhollyRoamin On August 9, 2012 @ 10:45 am

MH Sec Misanth- the LCWR is more like a professional organization.

To put it in other terms: think of the LCWR like the American Dental Association. But the Vatican is like the State Board of Health.

The first may represent the the dentist, and (s)he is accountable to the second. But the dentist dosen’t work for either one.

#6 Comment By Turmarion On August 9, 2012 @ 10:58 am

MH, as I understand it, the LCWR is more like a [7], and not all American nuns belong to it.

Religious orders in Catholicism are interesting critters. In general, the [8] is not strictly part of the clerical hierarchy. In other words, a parish priest reports to his bishop, who reports to the synod or council of bishops of his region, who report to the Curia (the bureaucracy of the Vatican) which reports to the Pope. A monk or nun, or a religious priest (one who is a priest and also a member of an order), however, reports to his or her local superior, who reports to the regional superior, who reports to the Superior General of the Order. The Vatican isn’t even in the organizational chart.

Concrete examples: My parish priest reporst to the bishop of my diocese, who is part of the ecclesiastical province of bishops of my state, who are all part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which reporst to the Vatican and ultimately the Pope. On the other hand, my spiritual director is a Jesuit priest. He is the superior of the Jesuits in our diocese, and is under the superior of the Jesuit Province of Chicago, which is ultimately under the Superior General of the Jesuits, currently Adolfo Nicolás.

The Jesuits–like any other religious order–need the permission of the local bishop to locate in the diocese to begin with; but after that, they do not report directly to him. The bishop has no say in whether a religious order priest is transferred into or out of the diocese, and cannot set policy for the order. He may assign them to parishes, and they have to follow diocesan protocol, but that’s it.

You might say that a secular (parish) priest is like an employee of the diocese, and religious orders are like independent contractors. The analogy also works because most orders are funded from appeals, industry (like monastic fruitcake), trust funds, etc., and not from the Vatican.

Having said all this, the part that’s unlike a secular organization is that the Vatican has the power to enforce doctrinal orthodoxy for anyone. Thus it has more control over a religious order than a business would have over its independent contractors. The Vatican can’t “force”, say, the Dominicans or Jesuits or Franciscans to run themselves any particular way. However, it can remove its approval of a given order or branch of an order, effectively rendering no longer Catholic. This would bar the members from teaching, ministering, or doing anything in a Catholic organization (e.g. a hospital), or publicly presenting themselves as Catholic. I’m not sure as drastic a step as that has been taken for an entire order in recent times, but it’s a possibility.

Actually, a small (ten or so women) Benedictine monastery in my diocese actually did this. I don’t know if the instigation was on the side of the diocese, or if it was the nuns’ decision, but they disbanded as a Benedictine house and reformed as an ecumenical religious community. They’re still there, still go to Mass at the local parish, and still are active in the community; but they’re no longer a “Catholic” order. I don’t know where the support comes from.

Anyway, this is just the merest, sketchiest outline of how these things work. The Catholic administrative structure is more Byzantine than the Byzantines. Hope this clarifies some things!

#7 Comment By Charles Cosimano On August 9, 2012 @ 11:00 am

Pio Nino would have made a fiasco like everything else he did. He would bluster and excommunicate and be laughed at. And to all the rational folks in the world it would be “Dingbat Old Ladies Vs Oddly Costumed Old Foreigner,” all over again.

Really Rod, I don’t see why you are getting worked up about all this. Aside from some comic relief, it does not matter what either the old dingbats do or the Pope does.

#8 Comment By Connie On August 9, 2012 @ 11:02 am

How does one get to be a “futurist,” anyhow? See also Faith Popcorn.

#9 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On August 9, 2012 @ 11:05 am

Thanks WhollyRoamin. To take the dentist analogy a step further. Although the dentist doesn’t work for the state board of health, they can take away his license to practice. So they have a fair bit of power over the dentist.

Suppose the nuns who compose the LCWR refuse to go along with the Vatican reforms. Does the Vatican have that next step?

#10 Comment By EB On August 9, 2012 @ 11:18 am

Rod, this is a slippery slope you’re embarking on. Making fun of variations in devotional practice leaves almost every reilgion or sector of one religion open to ridicule. I could make you blanch by describing my relatives’ (very orthodox, totally Vatican-approved, led-by-a-priest) practices as members of the Blue Army and charismatic Catholics.

#11 Comment By James On August 9, 2012 @ 11:27 am

“…a beatific presence with a mantle of white hair who quoted Jesus, Buckminster Fuller, the Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the current pope, Benedict XVI…”

Play the Homer video again.

#12 Comment By TWylite On August 9, 2012 @ 11:29 am

Hopefully they engaged in some serious thresholding, like all seedbeds need from time to time.

#13 Comment By Carlo On August 9, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

Andrea:

“None of what has been described here suggests to me that they do not believe in God or in the Catholic Church.”

Does it suggest that they do?

#14 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On August 9, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Thanks Turmarion, that clarifies the next step.

#15 Comment By John E_o On August 9, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

Making fun of variations in devotional practice leaves almost every reilgion or sector of one religion open to ridicule.

Not sure I see the problem there…

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 9, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

I was going to ask why ANY of this matters, but Charles Cosimano and John E. have said it all. Perhaps the nuns will form the Feminine Catholic Rite Assembly USA or something of the sort. The word “catholic” means universal, so the Romans have no claim to an exclusive copyright. Many Protestant churches still recite the Apostles Creed with the words “holy catholic church.” (Small c).

#17 Comment By jaybird On August 9, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

Once on the stage, the sisters moved in a circle around Hubbard as they raised and lowered the scarves and the assembly was asked to extend their hands in blessing while singing, “Spirit of vision, Spirit of life! Spirit of courage, be with her now! Wisdom and Truth be on her lips!”

How is it that in this age of ubiquitous camera-phones, we have no video of this amazing scene? I love stuff like this:

#18 Comment By Irenist On August 9, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

“modern innovations . . . accompanied by a guitar”

How wizened a liberal boomer need one be to think of the whole awful liturgical guitar thing as “modern” rather than “some awful 70’s thing from before I was born, like bell bottoms”? Oh, NY Times religion reportage–every time I think you can’t get any more full of fail….

#19 Comment By TWylite On August 9, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

Jaybird, you might also like the “Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson” if you haven’t encountered this already. More evangelism involving puppets:

[9]

#20 Comment By Charles Cosimano On August 9, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

John, I see no problem with ridiculing things that deserve ridicule either, especially religions.

#21 Comment By Harold Stassen On August 9, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

There are no videos because the nuns are ruthless about controlling access by outsiders. Think Dirty Harry, only with rulers.

#22 Comment By Rod Story On August 9, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

Having trained as a protestant boy at a catholic hospital, I remember the eye opening experience of watching nuns practice transcendentalism.

This news story about a lesbian nun brought all those memories back.
[10]

Sadly, seems to be chasing all winds of doctrine rather than worshiping the Lord and Saviour.

#23 Comment By Church Lady On August 9, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

Hilarious, yes, but not nearly as hilarious as the entrances the Pope makes, decked out in his absolutely fabulous attire to make all drag queens envious, sometimes carried on a palanquin, and then seated on a jewel-encrusted throne. Or the ornate costumes and ceremony of Cardinals and Bishops. New Age isn’t the only place where self-aggrandizing religious egos run wild.

#24 Comment By Dave Dutcher On August 9, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

I hate modern life sometimes.

Look, if anyone came to a baseball stadium and argued that there should be six bases, and people should be able to tackle outfielders- NO ONE would be in favor of it. But the moment you say the same thing about religion-that it should cast off its doctrines that define it for whatever the hell a small minority likes, they are heralded as brave iconoclasts challenging an enfeebled hierarchy.

This is why trads get riled up about things like this.

#25 Comment By Nick K. On August 9, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

The whole hippie-tastic guitars and songs routine, and the spectacle involving Hubbard indicate that even if the nuns aren’t heretics or schismatics, that they have been infected by creeping liberalism. Hopefully the overhaul continues apace and returns the nuns to a more straight and narrow path.

#26 Comment By jaybird On August 9, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

@TWylite:

Those are amazing – I’m a long-time aficionado of bizarre religious programming, but I’d never heard of that show before. Reminds me of the old Gene Scott broadcasts for the sheer wtf-am-I-watching? factor.

#27 Comment By Mary Russell On August 9, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

What’s so funny about this is how *seriously* these ladies take themselves. My first communion, arranged by my mother (an ex-nun) and her ex-nun friends in L.A. in the early 80s, was conducted in the same spirit- priest in tie-dye vestments, and in a private house since, you know, we don’t want anything to do with the Big Bad institutional Church. Hilarious.

#28 Comment By Mary Russell On August 9, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

Nick K.
What’s so pathetic in a totally funny way is that their brand of liberal expression is so outdated. I mean, all the cool liberals are toting Starbucks and driving around in hybrids with Obama stuff, not running around with streamers and listening to crackpot New Agers, right?

#29 Comment By W.E.B. Dupree On August 9, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

TWylite, those links brought back my own memories of encountering that strange Christian Science puppet show on public access years ago. I can’t watch those clips with the sound up right now (am at work), but if I remember correctly, the somewhat African-American-ish puppet was named “Chip the Black Boy”, and he and the show’s female host would sit there and discuss Mary Baker Eddy.

I will never switch back to cable from DirecTV, but I do miss public access shows.

#30 Comment By J the second On August 9, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

So American Catholic clergy are living in the Seventies, a bunch of hippies on the one side and a bunch of crabby hippie punchers on the other. Now where would Jesus come down on this one….

#31 Comment By M_Young On August 9, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

“who grew up a nonreligious Jew in a Scarsdale, N.Y., mansion (her father founded the Marx toy company) and is now acclaimed by New Age luminaries like Deepak Chopra for helping to lead what she calls the “conscious evolution” movement.”

Stop it–your killing me!

Are we sure Tom Wolf didn’t write this?

#32 Comment By Andrea On August 9, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

Carlo, I doubt that that was all there was to the conference. They reported on the eye-catching bits, not the time the nuns probably spent singing bad church hymns straight out of the 1970s or praying the Hail Mary.

This sounds like a fairly typical retreat with a fairly typical (albeit more high profile) keynote speaker to me. I knew nuns like them when I was growing up and this is their worship style. They do love God and the Church.

#33 Comment By Rod Dreher On August 9, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

Carlo, I doubt that that was all there was to the conference. They reported on the eye-catching bits, not the time the nuns probably spent singing bad church hymns straight out of the 1970s or praying the Hail Mary.

This sounds like a fairly typical retreat with a fairly typical (albeit more high profile) keynote speaker to me. I knew nuns like them when I was growing up and this is their worship style. They do love God and the Church.

Andrea, how much have you read about the LCRW and its leadership in the past few years? It’s gone very seriously off the rails. The fact that the group would choose this New Age woman who isn’t even Christian as their **keynote speaker** — and give her a standing ovation — tells you something. Barbara Marx Hubbard is not a one-off for the LCRW either. Are you sure you aren’t sentimentalizing the sisters? If this is a fairly typical retreat for this crowd, things are very far gone indeed.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 10, 2012 @ 1:06 am

“Look, if anyone came to a baseball stadium and argued that there should be six bases…”

I think Dave has this about right, but these nuns, however wierd, were born and raised in the Roman church, and have devoted their lives to it. I’m always more sympathetic to people on the inside questioning their own doctrine or leadership, than to outside critics demanding conformity to some homogenized cultural standard.

If these women thumb their noses at the Vatican, Herr Ratzinger can excommunicate them. So what?

#35 Comment By Carlo On August 10, 2012 @ 6:50 am

Church Lady:

“sometimes carried on a palanquin, and then seated on a jewel-encrusted throne”

You must be a wizened old Church Lady, since you last saw a papal procession in the early 1960s.

#36 Comment By Petersen On August 10, 2012 @ 7:52 am

“If these women thumb their noses at the Vatican, Herr Ratzinger can excommunicate them. So what?”

Many of these nuns took vows of obedience when they made profession. And however they have come to understand that vow over time, it doesn’t change the fact that when they took their vows in the 50s or early 60s (judging by their ages), it was understood to include obedience to one’s religious superior and the Pope. Now if a husband decided 20 years after the wedding ceremony that his vow “to be true” to his wife didn’t preclude a handful of adulterous relationships on the side, he would be condemned as heartless and unfaithful. But a nun who does the same with a promise made to God is heralded as a courageous visionary.

This kind of religious dissent is outdated. Everyone knows the Catholic Church is and will remain the principle voice of traditional religious values in the modern world. Talking points like abortion and women’s ordination are no longer issues for the future generation of committed Catholics, and the direction of the Church isn’t going to change. The Church should come down hard on these women for not getting with the times.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 10, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

Everyone knows the Catholic Church is and will remain the principle voice of traditional religious values in the modern world.

Everyone, minus one. I only get one vote, but so do you. If you presume to speak for humanity, there are another 7 to 9 billion people yet to be heard from. I’ll bet a dollar a head that at least one billion join me. I’ll give even odds a majority does so. I’ll even give you a handicap for the one billion or so Muslims in the world, who are a fraction of “everybody.”

I am firmly committed to the principles of church autonomy in matters of faith and doctrine, and freedom of association. That means, if the ladies ARE excommunicated, they have no recourse in the courts of the United States or any state, nor should they.

My point is, I don’t care if the church comes down hard on these women or not, because all it can do is say “You are not one of us.” And they can, if they wish, proclaim themselves the true heirs of the Christian faith. And I don’t much care about that either.

I thank God that the Pope has no divisions.

#38 Comment By Church Lady On August 10, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

“You must be a wizened old Church Lady, since you last saw a papal procession in the early 1960s.”

Are you condemning the traditional Church, and praising the post-Vatican II reforms? My head spins. Where, oh where will this end? With BMH’s great-granddaughter elected as future Pontiff?