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Monday, June 18, 2012

Rebellion in the Church: The Assault from Within!

In one of the most poignant moments in the Gospel Jesus asks, "When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) Many times since the Resurrection, we hear that question echoed in the events of history: the Arian heresy of the 4th century that denied the divinity of Chist, the Albigensian heresy of the 12th century that postulated two equal forces, one for good - the other for evil, battling for supremacy, the Protestant Revolution of the 16th century disputing papal authority and rejecting most of the sacraments. The difference from today is that, in all those earlier cases the heretics left the fold to found their own sects. But today, the heretics stay in the Church and have no intention of leaving, set instead, on reforming Christ's bride in their own human image.

The most recent chapter in the rebellion is the dissident nuns' response to the Vatican crackdown of the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), an action that is long overdo. I'm not going to rehash here what I've already written. You can see past blog posts about the radical nuns here. The fact is, however, that these fundamentally protestant rebels are entrenching and lining up their allies.
Among the first to sign on was the leadership of the Franciscan provinces in the U.S. Now, keep in mind, that, just as the LCWR represents only a small fraction of the 55,000 nuns whose congregations belong to the group, the same is true of the Franciscans. It would be interesting to see what a secret vote revealed about where the individual monks and nuns in these orders really stand. In one sense it makes no difference, the faith is not determined by popular vote and the religious "platform" isn't man made. But the "vote" by the Franciscan leaders and the letter released are great PR for the renegade nuns.

Frankly, it didn't surprise me. I know some renegade Franciscans from my days in Christian Family Movement. One, Fr. Ken Himes, who ended up later as the head of the Catholic Theological Society and now heads the Theology Department at Boston College, defended abortion as a seminarian. I remember the night he told our CFM group he held the same position as Fr. Robert Drinan. I felt physically ill.  And his long, subsequent career in LaLa Land still makes me sad. Many religious who rise to leadership positions are politicians, as many of the dissident nuns illustrate. When people ask, "Why do they stay in the Church when they don't believe what she teaches?" I respond, "That's where the power is. The media only care what they think because they attack the Church from within. If they leave, they lose their platform" So stay they do and enjoy the secular world's approbation. Too bad they can't take it into eternity.

If you have any doubts that it's all about politics, take a look at the nuns' strategy for responding to the Vatican. Not only are they gathering supporters, but selling T-shirts, developing a Facebook page, and organizing a bus tour to attack Congressman Paul Ryan. NETWORK, the nuns' lobby group that works hand in hand with LCWR, is headed by Sr. Simone Campbell who attended the signing of Obamacare and received a hug from the president.

The Vatican will come out looking like the demon in this fight because the Church is not about PR and many of the dissenters have their hands in the deep pockets of rich Church haters like George Soros But we have something they don't have -- the truth and the power of the Holy Spirit. When the victory comes it will be to the honor and glory of God alone because the enemies of the Church despite all their money and worldly power cannot prevail against the God's Church.