This past week, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) issued a document ordering a supervised renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
Since then it has been volley after volley at the bishops with accusations and comments ranging from "after the sexual abuse crisis, where's your moral authority?" to "an all-male hierarchy are again telling women what to do."
I often see this in secular politics. "It's the economy, stupid!" So then government leaders cannot work on any other problems until this is worked out? Health care has to wait? Transportation infrastructure has to wait? HHS Mandate has to wait? Obviously not. A government, like a person, can have several things going on at the same time. I am sure each person reading this has.
Is it simply a red herring? Is it a distraction to stop the Church's progress on one front because someone doesn't like it? I don't know. Perhaps.
Be that as it may, I'd like to point out another "either/or" occurrence within the LCWR situation. The CDF has pointed out that not enough attention is being paid to doctrinal matters within the Conference. Media reports were that the sisters were somehow spending too much time on feeding the poor and caring for the sick. Cries of "what would Jesus do?" and "the bishops have it wrong" arose. On and on.
Again, why is it an either/or situation? In one's life, in your business, in your government, isn't it expected that, in the pursuit of a goal, many different courses have to be pursued simultaneously? Of course it is. Yet the women religious are seen by the media as "one trick ponies." As if they are only able to do one thing at a time. However, isn't it clear that when one thing is pursued exclusively, balance is sacrificed?
Spending all of one's time reading doctrine on why we should serve poor, and then NOT serving the poor is out of balance. Conversely, serving the poor without understanding why we should, may achieve a goal, but is that at the expense of another, just-as-important goal? An outside observation can sometimes be the most perceptive and helpful.
Recall that the CDF is correcting a group who professes to BE Catholic. To be Catholic, one must both believe all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches, and then one is to go and do likewise. Why is this assessment not well within the Church's purview? Of course it is. Why the sexist rhetoric? This is not a male vs. female false dichotomy, it is the Church helping the Church.
Why else is spiritual direction so well-advised for those trying to grow in spirituality? That's exactly what I see here.