BlogWatcher - The truth about traditional nuns’ vocation numbers

BY MICHAEL MULLINS

James Martin SJ blogs on survey findings that the (“progressive”) LCWR women’s religious orders in the US are receiving “almost equal” numbers of vocations as the (“traditional”) CMSWR orders.

This contradicts the received wisdom ... The supposed absence of any [LCWR] vocations is sometimes used not only as a kind of ‘proof’ that these orders should be allowed to die, but also as a reason for the Vatican's investigation of women's religious life. 

The logic is sometimes expressed as follows: If you were living your lives faithfully, then your way of life will be attractive to other women; but since you are not attractive to other women, then you are not living your lives faithfully.  Ross Douthat, the New York Times columnist, made a similar point in an article entitled, ‘Can Liberal Christianity be Saved?’

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter says ideological labels are ill-fitting but he prefers “the European taxonomy of ‘left, centre-left, centrer-right, and right’ to the American convention of ‘liberals, moderates and conservatives’”. 

He thinks it’s a more clever strategy for groups such as the LCWR to work with – rather than against – the hierarchy. This is because “the concerns of the centre-left intersect with the emerging priorities of the bishops in surprising ways and thus have the potential to recalibrate perceptions on both sides of the relationship”. 

Once upon a time, when the tone-setting camp among the bishops came out of centre-left circles, it was the conservatives and the centre-right that had to be intentional about building relationships. Today the shoe is on the other foot, and showing ‘surprising support’ at least seems a possibility worth pondering. ... If you're not sure what else to do, making new friends generally isn't a bad place to start.

America blogger Michael O’Loughlin comments on Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s accusation that President Obama is waging a “war on religion" with Romney's new “Be Not Afraid” ad featuring images and words of Blessed John Paul II.

Meanwhile, James Kalb blogs at Catholic World Report and argues that it’s more important to support institutions that support particular values than it is the values themselves.

For Catholics and many others, the highest standards for life in society are the common good and social justice. Those standards involve a principle of equal human dignity, but they also involve support for the institutions though which human dignity and well-being are realised ... As in the case of business, academia, and government, its principles can’t be made completely subject to egalitarian demands. ... For Catholics, those principles are summed up in well-known teachings of the Church.

Tom Rastrelli at the Irish Association of Catholic Priests blogs about lying for the “greater good” of supporting the institution. 

When I’d applied for seminary, the director of seminarians ... told me to answer ‘yes’ when the archdiocesan psychologist asked if I was attracted to women, and ‘no’ when he asked if I was attracted to men. It was for the greater good, he said [in his] doctrine of justification for lying by clergy. I went on to be ordained a priest. I preached that ‘the truth will set you free’ while living in silence and shame.

It seems that headline writers also appeal to a "greater good". The US religion media watch blog GetReligion analyses the Melbourne Herald-Sun’s “warping” the content of a Vatican “warning” in an article it titled “Vatican warns US of threat to Catholicism”.

The headline is technically accurate, in that the Vatican does believe there is a threat to the rights of loyal, doctrinally orthodox Catholics. The story is inaccurate when it aggressively suggests, through a rather glaring sin of omission, that the Vatican addressed threats to Catholicism ALONE.

Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog challenges Sydney Sun-Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons to be consistent and accuse Olympic legend Usain Bolt of “public wankery” for public display of his religious faith last week.

Before the start of the 200 metres final, Bolt blessed himself.  At the end the race he made a sign-of-the-cross again and later knelt down and kissed the ground (a la the late Pope John Paul II). Usain Bolt seemed to be thanking God for allowing him to do something so fabulous on the sports field.”

Sentire Cum Ecclesia directs his media watch gaze at the Catholic Herald, which he says confused the 16th century Dominican Cardinal Thomas Cajetan with St Cajetan in its article “The saint who opposed Luther”.

As his Wikipedia entry says, Saint Cajetan ‘is not to be confused with his contemporary, Cardinal Thomas Cajetan’. It was the Domincan Cardinal who met with Luther, not the Saint ... Given this simple and repeated warning on Wikipedia, it is a little surprising that this article in the Catholic Herald does just that.


Michael MullinsMichael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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