Monday, May 5, 2014


   Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is after the American Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) again.  He said they are not abiding by the reform agenda imposed on them concerning speakers and the printed materials they distribute at their conferences.  And he questioned their ability to sentire cum Ecclesia, to "feel with the church."  As a result, they have to submit their list of speakers to the Vatican for pre-approval.

   Muller is unhappy that the LCWR will bestow its 2014 Outstanding Leadership Award to Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, who was criticized by the American bishops (who refused to meet with her) because of the "gravity of her doctrinal errors."  He is referring to Johnson's outstanding book, Quest for the Living God.  In truth, the American bishops embarrassed themselves by stating through their appointed theologian (how many bishops even read the book?) that it is wrong, or seriously lacking, to say that people's everyday experience of God can tell us about the true God.  Only the church's abstract doctrines about God can do that--and Johnson didn't include them in her book.  Never mind that she was not writing a theology text, or that many of these abstract doctrines are based on a medieval philosophy that is no longer usable in today's society.

   Muller appears to be living in a world of abstract, timeless doctrine.  In his world, time stands still and everyday experience means nothing.  Medical doctors also depend on the timeless doctrine of healing people, but imagine if they were still using a medieval understanding of their profession and treating today's people with medieval remedies.

   Reaching back to 2012, Muller complained that the LCWR listened to Barbara Ward Hubbard, who is a "futurist" and speaks of conscious evolution.  He compared conscious evolution to paganism and Gnosticism, the doctrine that says that some people have secret knowledge of the truth.  Now Hubbard is not a Catholic and she doesn't present a Catholic view of conscious evolution.  But her ideas are translatable into a 21st century, Catholic view of God that can be very attractive and persuasive, especially to the young.  Many of today's scientists present the same idea of conscious evolution in their way, as do an increasing number of Catholic theologians in their way.  

   Today we can say that we humans are evolution having become conscious of itself.  This contemporary scientific insight is inspiring Catholic spirituality to develop a God-filled, evolutionary idea of creation and of our own conscious place and destiny in the evolving universe and world.  And this in turn leads us to an understanding of an "evolutionary God," who is calling to us from the future.  I offer the page in this blog, "An Evolution Story" as an example of this contemporary understanding of ourselves and God.  Maybe Muller should take another look at how we should "feel with the church" today.

   In sum, I suspect that Muller simply does not trust the nuns to know what they are doing.  I admit that I'm angry.  It's far past time for such nonsense.  I could almost hear him saying, "These pesky women!  They are not capable of knowing Catholic doctrine,.  Or even of knowing Jesus correctly."

   I admire their ability to address Muller and the whole situation with patience and humility.