Pope Francis personally challenges the dissent and disobedience of women religious leaders

In his address to the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Pope Francis has directly challenged the dissent and disobedience found among some of their members, such as the US  Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The Holy Father’s words on the importance of obedience to the Magisterium, thinking with the mind of the Church, and unity with the successor of St Peter are clear and categorical, allowing no room for misunderstanding or misrepresentation, though certainly some will willfully misunderstand, misrepresent, even ignore, his words.

‘Obedience as listening to the will of God, in the interior movement of the Holy Spirit authenticated by the Church, accepting that obedience passes also through human mediation. Remember that the relationship of authority-obedience is contextualized in the much larger context of the ministry of the Church and it constitutes a special fulfillment of its mediating function (cf Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life… The service of authority and obedience, 12).’

‘Finally, the ecclesial aspect (ecclesialità) as one of the constitutive dimensions of the consecrated life, a dimension which must be constantly recovered and deepened in life. Your vocation is a fundamental charism through the journey of the Church, and it is not possible that a consecrated woman or man do not “think” with the Church, which gave birth to us in Baptism; a “thinking” with the Church which finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Shepherds and the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome, visible sign of unity. The announcement of and the witness to the Gospel, for every Christian, is never an isolated act.  This is important, the announcing of and the witnessing to the Gospel for every Christian is never an isolated act or that of a group, and no evangelizer whosoever acts, as Paul VI recalled so well, “under the force of his own inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name” (Ap. Ex. Evangelii nuntiandi, 80). Paul VI continued: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think to live outside the Church, to love Jesus without living the Church (cf ibid., 16). Feel strongly the responsibility that you have to care for the formation of your Institutes in the sound doctrine of the Church, in the love of the Church and in the ecclesial spirit.

In sum, the centrality of Christ and of the Gospel, authority as a service of love, to “think” in and with Mother Church: these are the three main points I desire to leave with you, to which I join once again my gratitude for your work, which is not always easy.

1) Christ and the Gospel are central
2) authority as a service of love (which is charity)
3) aligning one’s heart, mind and will with the Church

Protect the Pope comment: One of the major themes emerging from Pope Francis’ homilies and addresses is the incompatibility of egotistical individualism with the vocation of a Christian. The dissent and disobedience of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Association of Catholic Priests is the antithesis of Pope Francis’ understanding of Catholic discipleship.  All genuine Catholics live in the relationship of authority-obedience expressed by Pope Francis, ‘thinking” with the Church which finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Shepherds and the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome, visible sign of unity.’

H/T Fr Z




6 comments to Pope Francis personally challenges the dissent and disobedience of women religious leaders

  • comte de Frebonius

    This can mean only one thing: The “love in” with Pope Francis and those minions of the Western Secular power bloc is now over! Perhaps the term love in was appropriate, but the fact remains, that with this statement, the myth that this Pontiff would somehow liberalize on mass, has been nothing but incredibly short-sightless on their part. The Pope can and only follow what has been laid down in Holy Writ and Tradition. When is the likes of the Guardian and Tablet going to understand?

  • John

    This is how The Tablet reported this event:

    No mention of row as Francis meets senior Religious
    8 May 2013

    Pope Francis met briefly with senior Religious today at the end of their five-day tri-annual gathering but he made no mention of the controversy regarding two Vatican congregations and a crackdown on a body representing more than eighty per cent – 46,000 – of US nuns.

  • John Fannon

    Father Z has a post on this, this morning reporting that the National Catholic Reporter is spinning the Holy Father’s words to suit their own view.

    As my mum used to say “there’s none so blind as those who won’t see.

    But they are all in their own guardianista world aren’t they?

  • Bob Hayes

    The Holy Father reminds those who need reminding that the Church is God’s, she is not an organisational construct to be shaped and manipulated to suit secular, heretical or dissenting agendas.

  • peter

    The excellent talk by Francis to The International Union of Superiors General is being seen in the light of the American leadership, however it seems to me this talk was to all religious and was a meditation on the vows religious make. The talk reflects on obedience, chastity and poverty. It has also a meditation on leadership as service, an appropriate theme for leaders in religious life. To pick out Francis’ paragraph on obedience and ignore the rest of his talk is doing Francis a disservice.

    Another observation i make is the use of the word ‘thinking’ in the translation above. I have looked at other translations and the word ‘feeling’ is being used almost everywhere – a difference that is important within Ignatian spirituality. When Inigo talks of thinking – he is using the term in the sense of the whole of the person. Feelings and imagination are central to Ignatian spirituality. Inigo really wants us to use our imagination, our feelings and our thoughts to discern where God is leading us. There is no need to be fearful of feelings as Inigo writes.

    • John

      Peter, I take your point but I think the Deacon is also correct in seeing the contradiction between what the Pope is saying and the LCWR and ACP in Ireland. It is difficult to see how the positions some of the LCWR leaders and what seems to be all of the ACP is compatible with the teaching of the Church particularly on authority and obedience and on sexual ethics. Or perhaps you don’t think these are important?

      Thinking with the mind of the Church is actually pretty clearly understandable. The ACP and some of the LCWR seem to be establishing their own counter-Church and parallel Magisterium. It strikes me that this is what Francis is referring to at least implicitly.

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