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, November 25, 2009

I won't even answer your questions

Michael Perry has kept us more or less up to date on certain aspects of the Apostolic Visitation of congregations of women religious in the U.S.  Most recently, he linked to a report according to which many or most of the women religious involved in the Visitation are refusing to answer the questions posed by the Holy See.  See for yourself:    http://ncronline.org/news/women/women-religious-not-complying-vatican-study  For my own part, I wonder why anyone would think it's a good idea for members of religious orders bound together and to the larger Church through promises (or vows) of obedience to refuse to answer these questions.  If there are good and sufficient reasons for this particular refusal, they're not coming to my mind.  The "they don't understand who we are" (and therefore we aren't talking to them) line, which I have read over and over again, isn't equal to the task.  If "they" don't understand, then help them.  That's part of what it means to be Church, even as obedience (to morally licit demands) is the last word.  Meanwhile, disobedience of the kind on display here probably makes one of the points under investigation by the Holy See.  And, for the record, I would have the same view on this question if men's institutues were under a Visitation, as I wish they were.  Who knows why the Holy See has not undertaken an Apostolic Visitation of the men's congregations.  Meanwhile, the life of religious orders in the US, whether of men or of women, is a shambles, with impressive exceptions here and there.  Thank God the responsible parties in the Church beyond the US are doing something that has the potential to raise hope and expectation, even if some of those in the moribund orders don't yet see it.


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