The video below is so dishonest it's breathtaking and can only be seen as a shot across the bow of Vatican authority. Fr. James Martin is a prime example of the lying Jesuit of which, unhappily, there are many today. As the culture editor of America Magazine he continues the liberalism and dissent of former ousted editor, Fr. Thomas Reese. His own personal liberalism is shown in spades by an article he wrote promoting homosexuals in the priesthood as well as this video about the nuns that misrepresents the Vatican action. (Father conflates Rome's limited action against the 1500 member LCWR with all the sisters in the United Sisters who do not belong to the LCWR.)
In the video, he also distorts Church history stating that Vatican II wanted the sisters "out in the world" and out of their habits which is simply untrue. While he cites documents by name he gives no examples from the texts to support his statements. He says the Church called the nuns to wear the "every day dress" of modern women which is a direct lie. Perfectae Caritatis called, not for modern dress, but for habits that are "simple and modest...poor and becoming." Does that sound like business suits and pearls? Fr. Martin also presents a litany of sisters he considers exemplary that includes some of the most infamous dissenters in the Church. Let's take a look at some of his sister heroines.
Sr. Tobin, who went to her heavenly reward in 2006, was among the group of radical feminist nuns described in Donna Steichen's book Ungodly Rage. She saw her vocation in the Church as, in the words of Rosemary Ruether (another radical dissenter), providing "global power" needed, not to win souls for Christ, but as a "force for change." In her book Prodigal Daughters, recounting the reversion stories of Catholic women coming home to the Church, Steichen credits Tobin (and several other of the sisters lionized by Fr. Martin) as the architects of the "public relations campaign designed to foment rebellion against Church athority." As head of her order, the Sisters of Loretto, and head of the Congregation of Major Superiors of Women which later became the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Tobin was well-placed to be that "force for change" beginning with radicalizing her own community. She bragged at the 1987 Women-Church Convergence meeting about the tactics used to manipulate the more traditional sisters in her order. Many left. The others stayed to focus on projects that "embrace the cosmos" and work as an NGO (non-governmental organization) at the U.N. A history of the Loretto sisters shows exactly how radical the shift was which included promoting the Equal Rights Amendment, women's ordination, women's control over their bodies, and homosexual rights. This was Tobin's legacy.
Sr. Joan Chittister
Another heroine of radical feminism praised by Fr. Martin is Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, and a regular contributor to the National Catholic Reporter, the dissenters' mouthpiece. Chittister is a long-time opponent of Church authority and a proponent of women's ordination, even after the Vatican declared the male priesthood part of the deposit of the faith. In 2000 she defied direct Vatican instructions not to participate in the worldwide conference on women's ordination in Dublin. She went anyway giving the keynote address where she said the Church's understanding of God "as Father" interferes with the development of a healthy Catholicism. The conference ended with a mock Communion service described in Time Magazine. "There was no official celebrant. Instead, all participants joined in blessing the bread and wine." In the picture illustrating the article one woman beat a drum. The caption read, "Women lead a new-age liturgy in their drive to change Vatican policy." In Chittister's warped theology, doctrine is policy and disobedience is obedience to self. Her writing is filled with challenges to Church authority on both doctrinal and moral issues.
Sr. Elizabeth Johnson
In 2011 Johnson's book, Quest for the Living God, was declared by the U.S. bishops to be unfit for use in schools because of theological errors. The book, "does not accord with authentic Catholic teaching on essential points," they wrote in their critique. Particularly, with regard to the Trinity, the bishops stated that Johnson, "completely undermines the Gospel and the faith of those who believe in the Gospel." It's not surprising. Johnson has been at the forefront of radical feminist theology for at least forty years and in her earlier 1992 book, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Theological Feminist Discourse, created a new feminist Trinity whose persons are "Abyss, Word, and Spirit." Johnson is a signer of the 2000 Madeleva Manifesto, a feminist dissent document. Johnson compares her "feminist Christology" to the heretical liberation theology movement. Johnson is the icon of feminist rage ranting against "patriarchal oppression," "sexism," "androcentrism," and the "dominating male." For her, the religious life isn't about vocation, but about power and fighting for her share of it. Johnson supports the dissident group Call to Action and has keynoted their annual convention and called their mission a "charism." She apparently sees no conflict between attacking the Church and identifying with a group that supports contraception, abortion, homosexual activism, and other position diametrically opposed to Church doctrine.
Sr. Joyce Rupp
Feminist nuns are often into eco-spirituality and new-age practices. Sr. Rupp is one of them. Her spirituality writings are filled with new-age confusion. She describes her unity with all the elements of the cosmos and mixes pagan practices from Buddhism, Native American Spirituality, and the Sufi tradition of Islam in her eclectic faith. Her Servite Center of Compassion teaches a number of new-age practices including the enneagram which Fr. Mitch Pacwa condemns. Rupp's book, The Star in My Heart is filled with feminist imagery of Sophia Wisdom and spouts the typical feminist claptrap that "...it seems evident that Sophia is the feminine face of God. This aspect was eventually lost due to a highly male-dominated culture and a church that was very fearful of the goddess." Rupp's bibliography is filled with dissenting Catholic feminists.
That Fr. Martin has produced this video implying a Vatican "attack" on all nuns is disingenuous at best. He, like the radical nuns he praises, uses distortion of Vatican II for his own purposes. Priests like him apparently believe that by undermining Church authority they can recreate the Catholic faith as a bland Unitarianism that stands for nothing but personal fulfillment. Any orthodox Catholic seeing this video knows one thing for sure - Fr. Martin is one of the bad priests we should warn our children against. As I said to my kids when their Catholic high schools were preaching heresy, "Just because a man is wearing a roman collar, it doesn't mean he's telling you the truth." That goes double for Fr. Martin!
(Hat tip to Olivia for sending me this video. Thanks, Olivia, for shifting my focus today from working in my garden to working in the land East of Eden where Adam and Eve were driven after their sin. )