PopeWatch: Unimaginable

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Pope Francis has declared that a world without nuns is unimaginable.  Father Z supplies the commentary:

Pope Francis: a Church without nuns is “unimaginable”! [I think it is “imaginable”.  We don’t see many recognizable sisters around.  How long has it been since they have been present in significant numbers in our schools, hospitals, missions.  No wait!  They’re on buses!  Platforms of the DNC!]

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday highlighted the great value that nuns bring to the Church. “What would happen” – the Pope said – “if there were no nuns? [Here we go!] No nuns in hospitals, in missions, in charitable institutions, in schools… Can you even imagine a Church without nuns…? No it is unthinkable!”.  [What’s missing?  Hierarchy.  Holy Orders.  Nope.  Not there. Won’t be there… ehvurrrr.]

And speaking on the day in which we celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Pope said that nuns are great women. He said “they are a gift, the leaven that carries the message of Christ”. “These women – he said – are great!”

The Pope’s words came before the Sunday recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square, after having presided over Mass in the Basilica on the Feast Day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a Feast which is traditionally dedicated to Consecrated Life.

To those gathered in the Square Pope Francis said that consecrated persons in different sectors are “the leaven of a more just and fraternal society”. [Nice phrase.  I wonder if he has been reading materials from Acton Institute?] He said that “Consecrated Life is a gift of God to the Church and to His people”.

The Pope said that the Church and the world needs the witness of religious and consecrated lay people to the love and the mercy of God, and he asked for prayers so that many young people may say “yes” to God who calls them “to consecrate their lives to Him and to be of service to their brothers and sisters”.

Pope Francis recalled that the year 2015 will be dedicated to Consecrated Life and asked for prayers for this initiative. After the recitation of the Angelus Prayer, Pope Francis reminded those present that in Italy “The Day for Life” is celebrated today with the theme “Generating the Future”. He sent his greetings and encouragement to those committed to the defence of life from its conception to its natural end.

At this point I can’t help but think of one of the darlings of the LCWR type nuns in these USA, Sr. Donna Quinn, who was featured in my post Nuns Gone Wild!

Donna Quinn an advocate for legalized abortion. As late as 2009 she was engaged in escorting women to abortion clinics in the Chicago area so they could abort their babies safe from pro-life protesters. She is now a coordinator of the radically liberal National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), which stands in opposition against the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and the exclusively male priesthood. In a 2002 address to the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as “immoral”: “I used to say: ‘This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,’” she said.  “Then later I said, ‘This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I’d better work to change it.’  More recently, I am saying, ‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.”

The Pope doesn’t want nuns as escorts at abortion clinics.  He doesn’t want them in radical feminist causes.  He doesn’t want them in the hierarchy.

Meanwhile, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the help of Archbps. Sartain and Blair, is still watching the LCWR.Go here to read the rest.  Prior to Vatican II the Church had a huge number of sisters and nuns.  The day to day contact that most Catholics had with the Church was often through the activities of the nuns and sisters.  They were held in high esteem and their visible, through their distinctive habits, witness to the Faith helped inspire countless ordinary Catholics to strive to be better Catholics.  The collapse of  most orders of nuns and sisters is one of the saddest developments within the Church over the last half century.  New orthodox orders of nuns and sisters is one of the most heartening developments of the recent decades.


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  1. “‘All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.’” Quinn called gender discrimination “the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,” and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for “the sisterhood.””
    The denial of gender in the human soul is also a crime. Christ called men. Christ became a human man. Sister Quinn is not a man.
    Nuns for Choice, has not thought it out. Having been born, to deny to other the same grace is disgraceful.

  2. Our bishops and priests keep telling us to re-energize fallen away Catholics and evangelize the masses of non-Catholics.
    Sad things is, I think that perhaps the best evangelization tool would be the public excommunication of people like this. (Is that a sin to say that? Because I’ve gotten the impression that it is.)

  3. Nope haven’t seen a real habit around here. Now in Capulin Colorado the sisters there wear a traditional habit. The two sisters that left such impressions on my life Sister Mary Francis Cabrini and Sister Mary Camillus shaped my little mind as no one else has ever done. Sister Camillus was Native American and she piqued my interest in indigenous issues. Sister Cabrini’s namesake also dedicated her life to helping people of color and Native American’s. They were so beautiful and they smelled so holy! Their gentleness and patience with all of us still boggles my mind. They had two classes at one time with 60 kids in a room. How they did it I will never know but all I know is their examples made me the Catholic I am today. Ya know one of those “more Catholic than the Catholic Church” nags. 🙂

  4. In attempting to understand and to stem what happened to say many religious the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in 1983 did a study tracing ten essential elements of religious life from twelfth century council documents, papal documents, all the way up to and including the Second Vatican Council [primarily Lumen Gentium on the Church and Perfectae Caritatis [on the Religious Life]. They all witness to the same tradition. Those ten essential elements are: 1) Relation to the Church,2) Consecration by public vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, 3) communion in community, 4) evangelical mission 5)apostolate and identity 6) prayer 7) asceticism 8) public witness 9)formation and government 10) Mary as Model [This is from Matthew Lamb and Matthew Levering’s helpful “Vatican II, Renewal within Tradition”]

    For those of us old enough to remember religous life in the fifties and early sixties what has happened to so many religious and their orders is indeed shocking. One caveat however. When the Church goes through a great paradigm shift which it is going through in the passage from the Modern to the Post-Modern World [last one was passage from Medieval to the Modern World], every aspect of Church life is effected, Papacy, bishops, priests, religious, laity, mission of the Church etc] During the last epic passage the Church was johnny come lately, dragged through the vast change and then forced to reform itself. That was the Renaissance-Reformation and the reforms of the Council of Trent. When such writers as Romano Guardini wrote in 1950 of the End of the Modern Era, the Church attempted to preemptively get ahead of the tsunami approaching by calling for a Council: Vatican II. The problem was that the crest of the tsunami hit just as the Council adjourned.
    Many in the Church-across the board-took the vast cultural changes and shifts to be the same as what the Council was calling for: giving us such phenomenon as ‘the spirit of VII’ and ‘nuns for choice’. There were cultural reactions to all of this was well, of which we are quite familiar.

    Not sure how to say this. However, the ‘revolutionary’ generation in the Church is rapidly aging. The Church will indeed survive. But we only hinder her communion, life and mission by insisting on such projects as ‘spirit of VII’ or in a negative reaction break communion with the Church using our own criteria and agendas

  5. Anyone else just sort of “done” with Father Z?

    Sometimes medicine has to be strong to work. I pray you find some that works for you.

    As for a Church without nuns (or sisters) being “imaginable” as Father Z suggests, I agree with him. Sister Carol Keehan, the Obamacare nun made it very imaginable for me.

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