… That would be NCR as in the National Catholic Register, the print-and-web wing of the conservative EWTN Catholic media consortium — not the National Catholic Reporter.

The NC Reporter is decidedly more to the left when it comes to the Vatican’s treatment of the American sisters, in particular supporting the sisters against the investigation and takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR, by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a.k.a. the CDF.

The NC Register, which was purchased by EWTN from the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ in 2011, has supported the Vatican actions against the LCWR.

The LCWR is the network representing about 80 percent of the more than 50,000 sisters in the U.S., and two years ago the CDF said the LCWR had gone off the rails in terms of doctrine and off the board in terms of pursuing good works while not focusing enough on issues Rome wanted to stress, like gay marriage and abortion.

After an initial flurry of headlines — and bad press for the Vatican — things seemed to be working toward a resolution behind the scenes, and the election of Pope Francis, a Jesuit, seemed to signal that the Roman intervention would be resolved quietly.

Then Cardinal Mueller published his “blunt” — his words — talk to leaders of the LCWR who were in Rome this week, and things seemed to be back to square one. “My way or the highway,” Mueller seemed to be telling the sisters — though they say the talks afterward were constructive.

The drama is continuing to play out, and remarks by Cardinal Kasper in New York on Monday — another German theologian, but with a decidedly different profile — added another element.

But a sharp-eyed correspondent also pointed out a remarkable parallel between a key passage in Mueller’s remarks and a story two weeks earlier in the Register by Ann Carey, who has written a book sharply criticizing the U.S. sisters.

Here’s the relevant portion of Carey’s story — highlighted — which takes a dim view of the LCWR and focuses on a book the LCWR recently published about its long history:

In the book’s preface, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Annmarie Sanders, director of communications for the LCWR and editor of the book, repeated a charge the LCWR made when the mandate was released in 2012: that the assessment was “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

And here is the relevant passage from Cardinal Mueller’s talk, which focused on the same point:

We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.” This principal objection, I note, was repeated most recently in the preface of the collection of LCWR Presidential Addresses you have just published.

It’s a rather amusing cut-and-paste example, and not too surprising — the Roman Curia has long relied on information fed to its officials by conservatives and their media outlets in the U.S. And Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who is overseeing the LCWR on the Vatican’s behalf, is sure to have had a hand in advising Mueller for his talk.

But it’s still a bit sobering — like watching Fox News as your sole source of information about the Obama administration.

UPDATE: Another sharp-eyed reader notes that Mueller also repeated Carey’s mistake in placing quotation marks.

Namely, Carey cited Sr. Annmarie’s preface as reading:

…that the “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

Mueller also wrote it that way. But Sr. Annemarie actually wrote:

…and that the sanctions outlined in the mandate were “disproportionate to the concerns raised” and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.

The upshot: the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a forgery!


  1. It surely is more than a coincidence that the words connecting the two parts of the quotation are the same (and that the sanctions were). The Register article says the following:

    and that the “sanctions” were

    The CDF statement adds the word so-called:

    and that the so-called “sanctions” were

    Also, both writers used the exact same excerpts from the original source and combined them into one sentence. Coincidence? I doubt it.

    • Philip Barrett

      The excerpts are taken from consecutive sentences in the preface and, with ordinary (except for “so-called”) connecting words, they allowed Cardinal Mueller to represent Sr. Annmarie’s view succinctly. It may well have been a coincidence. Even if he had read Carey’s article, nothing in this article indicates that this is his only source of information on the LCWR: they are in ongoing dialogue with Archbishop Sartain. That makes the closing reference to Fox News a bit of a cheap shot.

      Regarding the placement of quotation marks, “disproportionate to the concerns raised” is Sr. Annmarie quoting from a 2012 LCWR statement. It might have been more accurate, but also more pedantic, for Carey and Mueller to use single quotation marks to indicate an internal quote in their larger quotation. It’s easy to make minor mistakes in quoting, like this article does when it includes “and” at the beginning of its quote of Sr. Annmarie. (The full sentence, which can be found using Look Inside on amazon.com, is: “In a public statement issued on June 1, 2012, [the LCWR] noted that the sanctions outlined in the mandate were “disproportionate to the concerns raised” and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.”)

  2. Praxiology theology, which the Pope admonishes, and which 80% of US nuns have turned to, is nothing more than atheistic and materialistic Marxism wearing the cloak of a saint and in South America it is known as “Liberation theology” (to this day, I know of no one liberated from any sort of oppression by it). It is the biggest theological movement in the world and comprises one third of the Communist and socialist nations. Praxiology theology was founded by Karl Marx and one third of the Catholic clergy in the world are praxiologians who defend and follow it.

    The traditional theology is cosmology, and the new deeper perspective is ontology. Few know about ontology theology since so much mind, time and energy is wasted in the widespread heretical practice of praxiology theology.

    • 1. Karl Marx “founded” no theology whatsoever. Praxiology also isn’t a theology, but a method – as are all the -ologies you mention. 2. Because you personally know no one “liberated from any sort of oppression” because of the adoption of liberation theology by people doesn’t mean it has not happened. Every piece of global information does not swirl by you for the taking, believe it or not. 3. Traditional theology is theo-ology not cosmo-ology. Theology is about God. I have no idea how ontology is even construed to be a kind of theology. Ontology has to do with being and therefore as “new, deeper perspective” it is philosophy (metaphysics), not theology of any sort. How you see philosophy/metaphysics become a “new” theology at all boggles the mind. Actually much the same can be said about cosmology. It’s a philosophy because it focuses on not-God, but creatures. And so on with regard to all the other -ologies you mention except theology itself. Theology is theology. All the rest are not-theologies. 4. There’s a famous phrase attributed to Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge…..” I advise the humble use of that phrase when tempted to write or utter “heretical/heresy”. I certainly am not in the position of judge w/reference to this issue and I seriously doubt you are either.

  3. I thank you for filling in some blanks for me. I find it enlightening that EWTN is umbrella for NCR(register) after the Legionaries. I find it equally enlightening that Ann Carey continues to influence the way things are seen, If I’m correct the last national platform she had was from OUR SUNDAY VISITOR which the USCCB adopted as their official voice. Has she gone over to the

  4. In the post Vatican II era the religious and faithful have matured substantially, but unfortunately some in the hierarchy have not. The days in which the faithful will believe something just because a bishop or cardinal or pope said so, are long gone. When we are told something we ask why. And when some of these worthies can’t explain what they are proposing, they just whimper and pout like children who don’t get their way. Shame on them. We all need to act as adults and work together in a mature church.

  5. Cardinal Muller & Bishop Sartrain should embrace the intelligence and good works of the U S and Canadian nuns. They are my heroes. The hierarchy should focus their time and energy on pedophilia, cover-up and the children harmed by abuse. I stand with the sisters! Ann Molony Desmond

  6. Yeah, sharing talking point is only for liberal, open minded journalists who write articles about process, casting aspersions on people’s motives but never actually mentioning any facts.

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