Sunday, December 11, 2011

CBS News "The Catholic Church: A House Divided?" (Part 2)

Here are the issues addressed in the CBS report "The Catholic Church: A House Divided?":
  1. The excommunication of Sr. Margaret Mary McBride, R.S.M. in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona.
  2. "Power-obsessed" Bishops
  3. Vatican II
  4. New Translation of the Roman Missal  
  5. Apostolic Visitation to Religious Orders
  6. Current status of St. Margaret Mary McBride and St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital  
I covered issues 1-2 in Part 1.  Here was my summary:
  1. Sr. McBride automatically excommunicated herself by counseling the medical staff at St. Joseph Catholic Hospital to perform an abortion.
  2. Bishop Olmsted acted charitably in acting as messenger in bringing this to Sr. McBride's attention.  
  3. Bishops who work to ensure that the faithful in their area are acting in accord to the laws of the church are not "power-obsessed"; they are exercising their office in the Church that Christ created.
Now, onto issues 3-6.

Issue 3:  Vatican II 
Not surprisingly, the report tries to make the case through interviews that, "They're just trying to reverse the changes of Vatican II"  argument.

I wonder how many Catholics, let alone non-Catholics, have actually read all of the documents from Vatican II to see what we're actually talking about.  To get the "real deal," click on the above link to access the documents directly from the Vatican Website.  Don't count on the media to interpret these documents for you.

Remember in Part One how the story tried to turn the bishops into "cruel," "power-obsessed" men?  The story goes on to try drawing a connection between "these events" and Vatican II.

Some see these events - taken together - as symptomatic of a larger effort to reverse reforms set down by the 1960s advisory council that came to be known as Vatican II - reforms which, back then, were seen as an effort to bring the church closer to modern times.
Be wary of any attempts to sum up an entire Church council in a few sentences, let alone from Gary Macy.
"There was a sense that we should try to bring Catholicism up to the 20th and then the 21st century," said Gary Macy, a professor of theology at California's Jesuit Santa Clara University. "In all kinds of ways - in scholarship, how do we relate to psychology? How do we relate to political science? How do we relate to modern ethics? All of those questions were opened up. There was much more involvement of the laity in the liturgy, so people felt much more involved. There were less spectators and more participants."
A few concerns about Gary Macy:
  1. He wrote this book: The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West 
  2. He is mentioned in Karl Keating's article "The Long Way Home: Can Losing Your Faith Be a Step in the Right Direction?" from Catholic Answers Magazine.  (Karl Keating is the founder of Catholic Answers)  Keating writes, "Gary Macy, who teaches theology at the University of San Diego, a nominally Catholic school, gives a similar argument.  He thinks the use of wheat bread and wine is merely a tradition, and traditions can be changed—or, at least, exceptions can be made: 'All kinds of things have been dispensed with in the history of the Church.'" 
Did I mention Gary Macy is the current chair of the Religious Studies department at Santa Clara University
Issue 4: New Translation of the Roman Missal
On November 27, 2011 (the first Sunday of Advent), Catholic churches across the United States started using the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal.   
The Vatican has now directed American churches to institute a new mass featuring an English translation more faithful to the original Latin - a mass critics say is harder to understand, less English-speaker friendly.
A few things on the new translation:
  1. It's just that--a new translation, not a "new mass."
  2. The new translation is a more accurate translation of the original Latin.  Altogether, these changes create a more sacred language more fitting of worship, helping us to life our hearts and minds up to the Lord. 
    • The older translation was created using what is called dynamic equivalence (translating with the goal of creating the same effect in the new language that the words had in the original language).
    • The new translation was created using formal equivalence (translating word for word to replicate the same meaning). 
  3. CBS says the "new mass" is "harder to understand, less English-speaker friendly"
    • Latin's grammatical structure is different than English, so it is to be expected that there are marked differences (i.e., use of several subordinate clauses).
    • The entire process creates an opportunity for the faithful to learn more about the Mass, its origins, and the words we say.
    • Having to slow down as we learn the new prayers is an opportunity to reflect on what it is we are actually saying.  
Issue 5: Apostolic Visitation to Religious Orders
In yet another attempt to paint "the Vatican" as a secretive, power-hungry empire, the story moves on to the Apostolic Visitation of the Religious Orders across the United States.
And not long ago, the church in Rome exercised that control - launching what's called an apostolic visitation, a process shrouded in mystery allowing it to investigate orders of nuns here in the United States.
One need do no more than a Google search to find out basic information about the Apostolic Visitation and get in touch with those actually performing the visitation.  Here's what the official Apostolic Visitation website says about the visitation:
An Apostolic Visitation is a formal but personal process, initiated at the highest levels of the Catholic Church, to look into the welfare of a particular aspect of the Church. Cardinal Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in a December 22, 2008 decree, initiated the Visitation of apostolic institutes of women religious in the United States and appointed Mother Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to serve as the Apostolic Visitator.
Mother Clare is a Connecticut native who has served as superior general of her religious community since 2004. She has complete administrative authority of the Apostolic Visitation and will personally conduct many inquiries and visits. Mother Clare will prepare a confidential report of her findings and observations for Cardinal Rodé at the conclusion of the Visitation.
Cardinal Rodé, a Slovenian, is a member of the Congregation of the Mission, an apostolic community of men commonly called the Vincentians. He has served as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since 2004.
So, lo and behold, it is a woman religious sister named Mother Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who is serving as the official Apostolic Visitator.  She will be the one to write and file the report of her observations of the religious orders across the country.
The Apostolic Visitation seeks to listen to and affirm the dignity of all women religious who serve the Church with exemplary love.
In addition, as Cardinal Rodé recently stated, “this Apostolic Visitation hopes to encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious.” It offers women religious a valuable opportunity for prayerful and thoughtful self-examination to discern and foster avenues of growth and vitality in their congregations.
Do you have some questions about the visitation?  Lucky for you, there is a special FAQ site on the page.  Perhaps you want to know, "What has prompted this Visitation?"
The Congregation for Consecrated Life is aware that many new congregations have emerged in the United States while many others have decreased in membership or have an increased median age. Apostolic works have also changed significantly because of societal changes.  These and other areas need to be better understood and assessed in order to safeguard and promote consecrated life in the United States.  
Maybe you want to know, "Why are the congregations of male religious not included in this Visitation?"
Various congregations of male religious were interviewed during the recent United States Seminary Study. In addition, this Visitation is guided by the scope of the mandate given to the Visitator.
Maybe you want to know, "Where is all of the information going and with whom will it be shared?"
The Apostolic Visitator will use the data gathered to prepare her report for Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) will prepare an aggregate report of the quantitative data collected from all reporting institutes in Part A of the Questionnaire. Individual Congregations will not be identified in any way. Cardinal Rodé has authorized the public release of this report (emphasis mine).
That's a lot of sound information straight from the source actually performing the Visitation.  Wouldn't someone actually conducting the Visitation be a logical source to interview on the topic?  Instead, CBS reporter Petersen says this:
We reached out to many orders of nuns across the country hoping to get their viewpoints about all of this.
In most cases someone would agree to be interviewed. But when the interview was imminent we would be called and it would be canceled.
In the end, Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale agreed to speak with us - partly, she said, out of concern that if she didn't, no one would.
CBS tries to make it sound like the sisters they contacted were somehow silenced and that Sr. Mary Hinsdale was a brave, sacrificial lamb, speaking on behalf of the mistreated female religious congregations.

Sr. Mary Ann Hinsdale has authored and co-authored several books, including:  What's Left?  Liberal American Catholics.  You can search through the book on Amazon.  That's how I found this quote:
...the experience of women with vocations [to the priesthood] and the experience of a Church with a severe priest shortage push toward changes in Church teaching.
A female religious contributing to a book like this and writing on the topic of women's ordination is not a likely candidate to be a faithful defender of the faith.  Sister Mary Ann is a member of the order of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She's also a professor of theology at Boston College. 
"Do you think this apostolic visitation is something that nuns like yourself, who are out there in the world, should be worried about?" asked Petersen. 

"I really don't know," she replied. "But I think the most problematic aspect of it is that we are not going to see a report, and we don't know what is going to be done with this."
Please see above.  The Visitation website says a public report of the findings of the Visitation will be made available.
"We were never told what was going to be done with this. And while we think this is, you know, a travesty, really, and insulting even about who we are in the church, because we think we're trying to be loyal to the church. We're trying to make, you know, plausible explanations where people are saying, 'Well, why is the church doing this? Why are they excommunicating people who are, you know, seem to be wanting good for the church?'"
So, Sr. Hinsdale is trying to connect the excommunication of Sr. McBride and the Apostolic Visitation of women religious orders to paint the bishops and Church hierarchy as out to get the sisters.  Let's re-summarize why this is silly:
  1. Sr. McBride excommunicated herself.  Archbishop Olmsted was merely the charitable messenger.  Also, please continue reading to find out about Sr. McBride's current status in the Church.
  2. The Apostolic Visitation's goal is to strengthen and protect women's religious orders in the United States.  A female religious herself (Mother Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) is the Apostolic Visitator.
Petersen decided he wanted another voice on the issue, so he returned to Gary Macy.  Remember him from above?  (The Religious Studies department chair at Santa Clara University and author of The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West).  Gary Macy chimes in with why he thinks the Apostolic Visitation of women religious is taking place.
"Why the nuns?" asked theologian Gary Macy. "This is my suspicion: They can."
"It's interesting that they would take the women's religious order, and not the men's religious orders," Macy said. "Although, you know, for so many centuries and centuries and centuries in Christianity, women have taken a hit first."
It looks like Gary Macy needs to look at the Apostolic Visitation website as well.  Remember the Q&A quote from above?  The site says that several of the men's religious orders were examined in a recent seminary study.

The report cuts back to Sr. Mary Hinsdale after Macy's comment about women in Christianity always taking the hit first.
When asked why she stays with the Church, Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale said, "Because it's my church. I have a responsibility to speak the truth that's been given to me.
Last time I checked, the Catholic Church was Christ's Church.
"There's a lot of pain and suffering, I think, in belonging to the Catholic Church today. But I think I'm following as best I can what I think God is asking me to do today in this church as we have it."
Imagine how differently the interview would look had Petersen interviewed Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, O.S.B., prioress of Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope (formerly Rosalind Moss).  When asked about the charism of her community in a recent National Catholic Register article, this was her response:  
What thrills me most, apart from being signs to God in the world and the freedom people have in approaching us, is the sense they have that they “own” us, so to speak. That is, they believe that they have free access to us, that we exist for them, that they have a right to expect us to pray for them, to help them, to be God’s arms to them in their need.  It is a beautiful expectation on their part, and, to my mind, that is as it should be.
Contrast the two:  
  1. Sr. Hinsdale says the Catholic Church is "my church," and that "there's a lot of pain and belonging to the Catholic Church today."  
  2. Mother Miriam says other people "have a right to expect us to pray for them, to help them, to be God's arms to them in their need."  
It comes as no surprise to me that Mother Miriam's order is flourishing with vocations and that orders that have adopted Sr. Hinsdale's attitude toward the Catholic Church are the orders that are dying out. 

Issue 6:  Current status of (1) St. Margaret Mary McBride and (2) St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital 

(1) Current Status of Sr. McBride
Sr. McBride's excommunication was lifted by Bishop Olmsted, and she resigned as member of St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital ethics committee.  This is a part of the story that deserves more attention.  Excommunication is not necessarily a permanent condition!  This is the beauty of forgiveness and reconciliation.  When a member of the Church is excommunicated, the onus is on that person to come back into communion with the Church.  To do this, the individual must repent of their sins in the sacrament of reconciliation directly to the bishop or a priest appointed by the bishop to lift the excommunication.  Like all individuals going to the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament does not "work" unless the individual is truly repentant of the sin.  By all outward appearances, Sr. McBride is back in communion with the Catholic Church.  Hooray!

(2) Current Status of St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital
The CBS report says,
To regain its "Catholic" status, the bishop insists that it must say the medical procedure that resulted in the abortion and saved the mother of four was in violation of religious and ethical policies, and will never happen again.
So far, the hospital has refused to do so.
It still cannot call itself Catholic.
This seems pretty straightforward to me.  An institution calling itself "Catholic" needs to operate in line with Church Teaching.  When it does not operate as a Catholic hospital by performing an abortion, why is it offensive to take this title away?  

Summing it all up:
  1. Issue 3:  The Second Vatican Council
    • Don't count on a secular media source like CBS to sum up an entire Church Council for you.
    • Read the Council documents for yourself here.
  2. Issue 4:  New Translation of the Roman Missal
    • The "critics" in the new translation think it is a "new mass" and are consequently troubled by the changes
  3. Issue 5:  Apostolic Visitation to Religious Orders
    • The actual Visitation is being conducted by a religious sister, and a public report will be made available when the Visitation concludes 
  4. Issue 6:  Current Status of Sr. Margaret Mary McBride and St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital
    • Sr. McBride is, by all outward appearances, back in communion with the Catholic Church
    • St. Joseph's Hospital can no longer call itself "Catholic" because:
      • it refuses to admit that the abortion counseled by Sr. McBride was immoral
      • St. Joseph's refuses to guarantee that another abortion will not take place at the hospital

No comments:

Post a Comment