By Sister Marianne watts, CHANGES

Words come in and out of fashion: An ambiguous phrase that is quite prevalent now is “my truth.” How does my truth rank when compared to “the truth” or is there any such thing anymore?

For example, in his opening remarks at the April 30, 2014 meeting between the two organizations, Cardinal Gerhard Muller says to the Leadership group:I think there is. I think it’s found in the message of the Holy Spirit that we hear in silence, hope, and trust as the Spirit reveals it to us. I think it’s notfound in the ambiguous language that informs the relationship between LCWR and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There isn’t enough openness or listening or valuing of potential vulnerability.

“It saddens me to learn that you have decided to give the Outstanding Leadership Award during this year’s Assembly to a theologian criticized by the Bishops of the United States because of the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings. This is a decision that will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment. Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops as well.”

To me, these words do not reveal the fullness of truth, although I believe the Cardinal sincerely means them to. But he does not cite the “doctrinal errors” in Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s writing. He mentions that they are, but not what they are. And is it enough that the Cardinal says Sister Johnson’s words are in error? Who else says so?

In an address given at Fordham on May 5, Cardinal Walter Kasper, “the German cardinal who has been called the ‘pope’s theologian,’ said that fresh Vatican criticism of American nuns was typical of the ‘narrower’ view that officials of the Roman Curia tend to take, and he said U.S. Catholics shouldn’t be overly concerned. ‘I also am considered suspect!’ Cardinal Kasper said with a laugh, . . . “

Cardinal Muller also comments on religious moving beyond the Church “or even beyond Jesus”:

Yes, this is hard language and I can imagine it sounded harsh in the ears of thousands of faithful religious. I regret that. . . . And yet, the issues raised in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.”

Where in the literature of the LCWR is it stated or implied that the organization supports “a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord”?

It isn’t. What is present in a keynote address of some years ago is a description of four models of religious life, one of which speaks of a community that “goes beyond Jesus.” Apparently this community does exist but its theology is not validated by LCWR or even by the author of the article, who favors a religious life that can be in harmony with the magisterium of the Church.

A description is a description. It is not an exhortation to believe.

And finally what does the Cardinal mean by “conscious evolution” a phrase that apparently earns “his harshest criticism”? He says:

“The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.”

Consider Sister Ilia Delio’s message:

“What we’re saying is that from all eternity the whole universe is made for Christ. The whole thing is about love, from 14 billion years ago, to the emergence of the human person, to the incarnation in Jesus Christ. It’s love being stressed all along, divine love all through cosmic history. It bursts forth in the person of Jesus like a new big bang. Big Bang One is the cosmos; Big Bang Two is God exploding now in human history and giving an explicit direction to the whole course of evolution in Jesus Christ. . . .

“God seeks to be incarnate in an expanding incarnation. The Christ is waiting to be born anew, if I can put it in that language. But Christ cannot be born anew without our saying yes to bringing Christ into the world.”

Is the Cardinal familiar with the writings of Sister Delio? If not, why not? If so, where are his thoughts on her writings, which are very much on point? She also was an LCWR keynote speaker, a recent one.

We don’t know all that transpired after the time of these comments, except that the LCWR did respond:

“At our meeting with the CDF officials, we experienced a movement toward honest and authentic conversation on some of the matters that lie at the heart of our faith and our vocation. We have come to believe that the continuation of such conversation may be one of the most critical endeavors we, as leaders, can pursue for the sake of the world, the Church, and religious life.”

Our personal response, as always, must be Hope.