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.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The “Visitation” re-Revisited


Thanks to Michael P. for drawing out attention once again to this pressing issue about the visitation of the LCWR. I find Fr. Richard McBrien’s thoughts interesting, but I have read them before. I have also read and re-read Sandra Schneiders’ essay, as have a good number of my women religious colleagues, and we do not find her position to be “the best, most compact, and most significant study of the biblical and historical foundations of ministerial life available today” or, for that matter, of all times. I find Richard McBrien’s zeal all the more interesting when he attributes to Sandra Schneider’s claim that “too many critics of religious life in the United States ‘have no lived experience or academic competence’ to regard it.”

Unlike Richard McBrien, who is not a member of a religious community but a diocesan priest, I am a member of a religious community, as is Sandra Schneiders; moreover, I have a good number of friends who are members of women’s religious communities who join in me in having a different take from the Schneiderian-McBrienian perspective. I would call our experience “lived experience.” So, I think we are competent to offer an alternative perspective that is based on truth and “lived experience.” It is a pity that the media sources pushing the Schneiderian-McBrienian perspective are not interested in covering alternative views which rely on truth and “lived experience” of other religious who have asked the Holy See for this visitation.

With regard to academic competence, I will also challenge the Schneiderian-McBrienian perspective. I just wonder, though, if this element of the critique means that those who disagree with Sandra Schneiders or Richard McBrien must have their academic competence questioned not on substantive grounds but simply because they do not agree with Sandra Schneiders and Richard McBrien? They possess keen acumen and have respect in the religious and academic world; but so do others who do not share their interesting views. It is a tragedy and pity that these other perspectives that contrast theirs do not “merit” equal treatment in the press.

So Michael, not only have I read and re-read their articles but have also considered and re-considered their articles. I wish that both of them could have the opportunity to read the positions of others who write from “lived experience” and academic competence. I appreciate what they have to say, but I disagree respectfully with their contentions. I wonder if they have read alternative perspectives from responsible persons?


RJA sj





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