Daily Links April 20: It’s raining (coverage of) (wo)men (religious)

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The USCCB and CDF on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is the USCCB on religious liberty. And we in the religious media have seemingly jumped for joy at the opportunity to write about something, anything other than that old story. As A Nun’s Life put it, LCWR has suddenly become a household acronym.

On our own site, I find the CDF’s assessment sexist and ponder the three routes I think the LCWR can take. (NCR reports that canon lawyers say the LCWR has only two routes: comply or no longer be recognized by the Vatican.)Bryan Cones writes that the assessment “is little more than a tissue of misinformation, misrepresentation, and innuendo that does a profound disservice to these religious women.”

Molly Wilson O’Brien points out on dotCommonweal that the single concrete bit of evidence the CDF cites as problematic attitudes in the LCWR, Sister Laurie Brink, O.P.’s presentation on the future of women religious, is unfair an out of context in its assessment. In fact, Brink clarifies that “movement beyond Christ” (what the CDF took issue with) is “a movement the ecclesiastical system would not recognize…a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life.”  Granted, Brink did say that one such community that chose that path, the Benedictine Women of Madison, made their choice with “integrity, insight and courage.” Wilson O’Brien: If that sounds to you like Sr. Brink is praising people for stepping away from Christ, ask yourself how it’s any different from what critics of women religious (or any other progressive Catholics) have said all along: if you don’t like it, why don’t you leave? If you can’t assent in obedience and faith to what the Church requires, shouldn’t honesty motivate you to stop calling yourself “Catholic”? We’ve all heard it; some of you have said it.

So, considering that general sentiment is all pervasive (especially in comments section on many a Catholic blog), you’d think the response would be “Good riddance,” rather than “We the Church Pastors think you are crying for help.”

Over at the Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger comments on the timing of the CDF’s public assessment, as it coincided with the announcement from the Vatican that the response from the Society of Saint Pius X regarding its clarification of their doctrinal positions is “encouraging.” Henneberger writes: Maybe timing isn’t everything, but the juxtaposition of these two announcements on the same day was perfect. If, that is, the intent was to send the message that while schisms may come and go, feminism won’t be tolerated.

The New York Times issued an editorial yesterday saying that women religious in this country continued to “bolster the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church even as it suffered one of its greatest scandals in the sexual abuse of schoolchildren by rogue priests and the cover-ups by diocesan authorities.”

PBS’s News Hour speaks with Donna Bethell of Christendom College who agrees with the assessment as well as Jeannine Hill Fletcher, a feminist theologian at Fordham University, who says the sisters are continuing the work of the church in all that they’ve done and continue to do.

And while there has been no word from the LCWR regarding their next move, NETWORK’s Sister Simone Cambell told the New York Times she was “stunned” in response to the directive. “I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”