… 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!