by the NCR's Jamie Manson appeared this week with the startling headline, "Time to face facts: Pope Francis agrees with the doctrinal assessment of LCWR." The piece came down to the fact that Francis is pretty much on board with his predecessor's attempt to muzzle the Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- the group that represents most of America's nuns. Seems Francis has the same misogynistic fears of women as many in his profession:
I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of "female machismo," because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo.
Female machismo? What on earth is he talking about? This sounds more like a toned-down version of Rush Limbaugh's "feminazi" smear than the reflections of a mature churchman. Maybe a woman who talks to a man as an equal is guilty of unpardonable arrogance. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine the sisters as wild radicals ready to bring down the Church.
But then, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (B16's stomping ground when he was Cardinal Ratzinger) has similar fears of the ladies diving into untested and heretical waters:
The second [worry] is over a gnostic current. These pantheisms ... they're both currents of elites, but this one is of a more formed elite. I knew of one superior general who encouraged the sisters of her congregation to not prayer in the morning, but to give themselves a spiritual bath in the cosmos, such things. ... These bother me because they lack the Incarnation!
So he knows of
superior general who made a strange remark. Is this something that is catching on with sisters across the globe? Is it even true? Why the existential panic? Is this all about Eve and her apple again?
Managing women based on rumor and fear is an old weakness of the Church. It's what led to witch burnings. In the face of this reactionary fear of all things female, it's amazing that the sisters have kept their cool and continued the respectful conversation. I'm just afraid that dialoguing with the CDF (and maybe Francis himself) is like trying to talk your Tea Party Uncle Frank to take off his tin hat and come down from the ledge.