Dissident U.S. Nuns Unlikely to Change, Even in Face of Vatican Inquiry and Shrinking Numbers: Exper

By Hilary White

ROME, April 22, 2009 ( - The leadership of a prominent left-leaning group of Catholic sisters is scheduled to meet today with Vatican officials to explain some "doctrinal content" of speeches given at its annual assemblies.

In February, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) launched a "doctrinal assessment" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the largest umbrella organisation for sisters in the US, after "concerns" were raised about the "tenor and doctrinal content" of some addresses at the group’s annual meetings since 2001.

As reported last week by the National Catholic Reporter, in his letter to LCWR dated February 20, William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the CDF, said that among the issues of interest to the Vatican is the group’s understanding of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, as well as other central doctrinal issues.

The Vatican announced that it has appointed Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio to supervise the probe into what long-time observers have identified as one of the most prominent dissident and "liberal" Catholic organisations in the US.

Cardinal Levada noted that LCWR leaders had met with the CDF in 2001 to address members’ reception of Church teaching on the restriction of ordination to men, Catholic teaching on the nature of the Church, other religions and Christian denominations and "the problem of homosexuality." Levada said it is clear that, given the content of recent meetings of LCWR, "the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present." 

One keynote address delivered at the LCWR 2007 meeting is representative of the problematic ideas embraced by many of the LCWR communities. In the address Dominican Sister Laurie Brink said that the more liberal or "sojourning" congregations were leaving behind "institutional religion" and "moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus."

"A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical," she said. "Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian."

She added, "Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians."

Fr. Philip Powell, a priest of the Dominican order and an author and popular Catholic blogger, told LSN in an interview that he believes that the investigation is long overdue. He added, however, that he has doubts as to what it could accomplish after so many years. The LCWR "culture of opposition" is entrenched, he said. "From some of the things I’ve read about LCWR and from my own personal experiences as a seminarian and in religious life, there’s a real tendency of these women to form their identity around their opposition."

"The LCWR has worked to undermine the Church’s ancient teachings," he said, "particularly those about nature of Christ and the Church and sexuality." Fr. Powell said that the group’s keynote addresses and speeches "have been uniformly anti-hierarchy, anti-clerical, anti-magisterium. They tend to push an eco-feminist ‘new cosmology’ ideology over and against basic Christian beliefs.

"They aren’t simply tinkering with the packaging here. They are gutting the gift."

An umbrella organisation, LCWR, founded in 1956, has more than 1,500 members representing about 95 per cent of the 59,000 women religious in the U.S. While LCWR is the largest organisation for women religious in the US, its member communities are uniformly aging with few new recruits and an increasing amount of their resources devoted to caring for elderly sisters. Nevertheless, LCWR remains one of the leading voices in the US on the extreme left of "social justice" issues, such as immigration, the Iraq war and environmental concerns.

In 1991, author Donna Steichen published the landmark exposé study of US women’s religious orders, "Ungodly Rage: the hidden face of Catholic feminism," in which she recounts her own first-hand experiences with groups of "progressive" Catholic sisters in the US, including LCWR.

The book is regarded as the definitive account of a movement that began in women’s religious orders in the 1960s that focused on their systemic revolt against the authority of the Church. It detailed the openly anti-Catholic preaching of "Catholic" feminist theologians, particularly the movement’s defence of abortion, homosexuality and its connections with witchcraft and New Age rituals.

Steichen told (LSN) in an interview that she welcomes the Vatican intervention, but added that "it is at least 30 years behind the need."

Steichen pointed that in the last several decades, "The communities involved [in the LCWR] have almost completed their suicides, and they know it, and it gives them pause."

She pointed out that, in her opinion, "The future clearly lies with the new and reformed young orders of, one might say, ‘primitive’ [traditional Catholic] observance."

Many of these "new and reformed" orders belong to a smaller, counter-organisation to LCWR that was set up in the United States in 1992, for those religious orders who had rejected the revolt of the LCWR communities against the teachings of the Church. Its growing list of communities is characterised by the sisters’ youth, adherence to Catholic teaching and their retention of the traditional observances of the religious life such as the wearing of a habit.

Fr. Powell agreed with Streichen’s analysis of the current state of affairs, particularly concerning the dismal future for many of the LCWR communities. "Any kind of positive sense they [LCWR communities] have of themselves is a result of their opposition to the Church," he said.

"In LCWR keynote speeches you’ll see they see themselves as persecuted, misunderstood and ignored prophets. It seems important to them to continue playing this role."

The future, he said, is not bright for these communities, given the rising median ages of the sisters and the very few applicants. Fr. Powell said it is amazing that they continue so doggedly on the path of "dissent."

"The prescriptions being offered in their addresses are only going to guarantee their continued decline," he said. "It seems extraordinarily odd that they can’t see that no one wants to buy what they’re offering." 

Read related coverage:

Denver Archbishop Recalls "Progressive" Nuns to Obedience to the Church

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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 

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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.

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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.


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