George Weigel’s Omniscience About Nuns
When I first heard about the recent Vatican effort to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) I assumed it was a complex story not easily summed up by broad generalizations about thousands of diverse congregations of sisters across the country.
Then I ran across George Weigel’s recent piece at National Review Online, which helpfully disabused me of that notion and brilliantly defended the Vatican’s efforts as a much-needed corrective to rampant theological abuses.
Here’s a rundown of Weigel’s telepathic insight and flawless logic:
He knows the motivations of those who reacted negatively to the news:
That imagery — three men, acting on behalf of a male-dominated Curia, assuming leadership of an organization of women religious — proved irresistible to Vatican critics, eager to drive home the point that the Catholic Church doesn’t care about one half of the human race
He knows that if you’ve ever helped women, you can’t be accused of having problems with gender issues:
The problem with the former criticism, of course, is that the Catholic Church is the greatest educator of women throughout the Third World and the most generous provider of women’s health care in Africa and Asia; there, the Church also works to defend women’s rights within marriage, while its teaching on the dignity of the human person challenges the traditional social and cultural taboos that disempower women.
He’s intimately familiar with the inner spiritual life of every American nun:
Yes, many sisters continue to do many good works. On the other hand, almost none of the sisters in LCWR congregations wear religious habits; most have long since abandoned convent life for apartments and other domestic arrangements; their spiritual life is more likely to be influenced by the Enneagram and Deepak Chopra than by Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein; their notions of orthodoxy are, to put it gently, innovative; and their relationship to Church authority is best described as one of barely concealed contempt.
He went to a Mass once, which is entirely representative of American nuns’ worship practices:
Even those LCWR-affiliated communities that hold, tenuously, to the normal sacramental life of the Church regularly bend the liturgical norms to the breaking point in order to radically minimize the role of the priest-celebrant; at one such Mass I attended years ago, the priest did virtually nothing except pronounce the words of consecration.
Regardless of how one feels about the merits of the Vatican’s actions towards American sisters, it should be obvious that this kind of sloppy pontificating adds nothing of value to the conversation.