Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A house divided...


Thanks to Michael P. for bringing to our attention the National Catholic Reporter story about Sr. Theresa Kane, RSM. I had seen the story earlier today, and I have been following the accounts of the investigations of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Unlike Michael, I do not have any relatives who are women religious, but I do have friends who are members in various women’s religious institutes. I know that some of them welcome the investigation to which Sr. Theresa Kane refers and objects. I have been praying over the matter for some time; moreover, I have been studying what is going on. In my study, I continue to reflect on and ponder the words of John Paul II in his encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor:


While exchanges and conflicts of opinion may constitute normal expressions of public life in a representative democracy, moral teaching certainly cannot depend simply upon respect for a process: indeed, it is in no way established by following the rules and deliberative procedures typical of a democracy. Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church’s Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts. When this happens, the Church’s Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission, insisting that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected. “Never forgetting that he too is a member of the People of God, the theologian must be respectful of them, and be committed to offering them a teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith”. N.113


I hold the view that these words of John Paul II apply to all the people of God, be one a bishop, a cleric, a religious, or a lay member of the faithful. Susan, Michael, and I have addressed issues surrounding these investigations before, and I suspect we will address them again as the investigations proceed. In the meantime, I think prayers are in order for the Church, the people of God, the Body of Christ.


RJA sj



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