Men interested in a vocation to the priesthood are invited to join with members of the Diocese of Wilmington’s “Come and Seek” group on Saturday, Aug. 16, in a trip to Philadelphia for Mass, lunch and visits to area shrines. Read more »
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Using what he acknowledged was unusually “blunt” language, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office rebuked officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for honoring a Catholic theologian whose work was judged “seriously inadequate” and for promoting futuristic ideas he described as “opposed to Christian revelation.”
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made the remarks April 30 in an address to the presidency of the LCWR, a Maryland-based umbrella group that
claims about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women’s communities as members, representing about 80 percent of the country’s 57,000 women religious.
The text of Cardinal Muller’s remarks was posted on the congregation’s website.
In 2012, the Vatican announced a major reform of the LCWR to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. The Vatican appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to implement the congregation’s doctrinal assessment, by providing “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of the LCWR.
LCWR officials have characterized the assessment as a “flawed process that lacked transparency,” and the disciplinary measures imposed by the Vatican as “”disproportionate,” saying they compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.
At the April 30 meeting with LCWR officials, Cardinal Muller voiced “increasing concern” about the LCWR’s promotion of the “concept of conscious evolution” in various publications and in the directional statements of some member congregations.
Conscious evolution is a set of ideas developed in the writings of Barbara Marx Hubbard, who addressed the LCWR annual assembly in 2012. Hubbard’s website describes the concept as “part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods.”
According to the cardinal, 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.”
“Conscious evolution does not offer anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world,” he said. “The Gospel does. Selfless service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does.”
Cardinal Muller also said he was saddened by plans to give a major award at the group’s annual assembly in August to St. Joseph Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson. In 2011, the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine criticized one of Sister Johnson’s books as containing “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” related to the Catholic faith.
The LCWR’s award to the theologian “will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the doctrinal assessment,” the cardinal said. “Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the bishops as well.”
The prefect said he would not prevent Sister Johnson from receiving the award, but that the Vatican expected LCWR officials henceforth to seek Archbishop Sartain’s advance approval of “invited speakers and honorees” at major events.
“In the end, the point is this: The Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial life of the church,” the cardinal said. “The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life.”
In a written statement responding to a reporter’s inquiry, LCWR officials said the prefect’s “remarks were meant to set a context for the discussion that followed. The actual interaction with Cardinal Muller and his staff was an experience of dialogue that was respectful and engaging.”
LCWR officials later sent a message to their members and included the full text of Cardinal Muller’s introductory remarks. They said that “in the honest, respectful and engaging discussion that followed Cardinal Muller’s opening remarks, we were able to offer responses that illuminated some of the perceptions about LCWR held by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
For instance, they said, “in our discussion about the 2014 LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award, we noted that Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, served the universal church on a pontifical commission and was a consultant to the USCCB in the areas of ecology, science and faith.”
“We further shared how distressing it is to realize that one aspect, in one book, of a distinguished theologian’s body of work seems to cast the entire body of respected and credible work in its shadow.”
Without using the term “conscious evolution,” the officials said that “when LCWR continues to read the signs of the times, within the context of our Catholic beliefs and tradition, it is an effort to attend to emerging insights and learnings. We are exploring these areas of contemporary culture, we are not proposing them. Nor are we using them to replace our firm commitment to the Christological foundation of consecrated life. Our efforts to explore new understandings from science and philosophy are in service of our members who desire to exercise anticipatory leadership in order to meet the challenging times in which they are leading. These points of discussion, among many more, were met with genuine respect, attentive listening and honest exchange.”
The officers said they would continue discussions with the LCWR executive board in late May and with the general membership in August.
NEW CASTLE – Catholics may not recognize the ministry of Dominican Sister Mary Grace Thul at first glance, but it is very visible. The artist, who lives at the Caterina Benincasa Dominican Monastery on the grounds of Holy Spirit Parish in New Castle, spreads the message of faith through her work. Parishioners at St. Ambrose Church in Baltimore already have her art in their church, and soon they will be seeing much more.
Sister Mary Grace created several canvases for the parish, which is in the Park Heights section of Baltimore, a few blocks from Pimlico Raceway. The oil paintings depict several prominent church figures and will soon hang in the alcove of St. Ambrose. Read more »
Every parish priest is a farmer of sorts when it comes to nurturing vocations to the priesthood.
The most important ingredient in the growth of vocations to the priesthood is the example of happy, joyful parish priests, said Father Charles C. Dillingham, an associate director of the Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations, and pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hockessin.
While priests who are happy in their ministry provide the required sunlight for growing priests, the planting of the seeds of a vocation is also a priority in the diocese.
That’s why priests of St. Mary of the Assumption and St. John the Beloved parish in Wilmington started “Come and Seek” sessions last October, get-togethers for men who may feel a calling to the priesthood. Read more »
NEWARK — Inside the Jeanne Jugan Residence, two young men who are just beginning their journey as Franciscans are helping bring companionship and the faith to others, many of whom are more than 50 years older than them.
Casey Cole and Dennis Bennett are among five postulants who are in the midst of their formation for the Franciscans’ Holy Name Province. Two others are working at St. Francis Inn Ministries in Philadelphia, which includes a soup kitchen, women’s shelter, thrift store and social services center. The other one is in parish ministry at St. Paul’s in Wilmington, where the five live.
The U.S. Catholic Church is celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education.
This distinctive week gives Catholics an opportunity to renew prayers and support for those who are considering one of these vocations. Read more »
Pray and work “That in all things God may be glorified.” The Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely, Md., strive to fulfill this directive of their founder, St. Benedict. On Nov. 16, 2011, the feast of their patroness, St. Gertrude the Great, the sisters rejoiced to receive a new novice, Jo-El McLaughlin, who joined them in their seeking of God.
Though they are involved in various active ministries, the primary ministries of Benedictines are communal prayer — “The Work of God” — and the formation of Christian community. From these core ministries flow the external ones. Read more »
“A vocation to consecrated life, like every true vocation, is necessarily described within the context of mystery: the mystery of God’s call and the mystery of human freedom.”
– Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
The above quote expresses in a beautiful way the call of God within my life. I have always felt a close relationship with God since the time I was young and have always felt drawn to deepen this relationship. I was brought up in a loving and caring family. Our Catholic faith was a very important part of our lives. I remember praying the rosary and going to church together. My parents modeled for us what it meant to be generous and faith-filled people. It is their loving example and God’s grace in my life that led me to religious life. Read more »
“I wasn’t sure how I would fit in, but thank goodness I had a yardstick in my car.”
Sister Mary Joseph Reinke, who assists at the Catholic Campus Ministry at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md., was talking recently about helping a student who had “had lost her rosary behind the cushions of a sofa in the ministry house. With my yardstick, I was able to fish it out. That really broke the ice.” Read more »
Three men declared their intentions before Bishop Malooly Jan. 8 to become priests for the Diocese of Wilmington in a brief candidacy rite during the 11 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter.
“The church receives your declaration with joy,” Bishop Malooly told the seminarians, who are scheduled to be ordained to the transitional deaconate in September, during the brief ceremony.