It will be dialogue, but not dialogue

Yesterday it was the Vatican’s turn to explain the Deep Rifts between the priests and the sisters. Terry Gross talked to the bishop of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain), Leonard Blair, who is the one who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and found them very very wanting.

Along with Archbishop Peter Sartain and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, he will be working with the nuns of the LCRW to make sure the group is aligned with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

“Working with” – ha. It won’t be working with, it will be telling. He says so himself. That’s the whole point. It’s not negotiable, it’s not discussable, it’s not open, it’s not a process – it’s just telling. Blair tries to pretend that it is a “discussion” but then he also very firmly says that it’s not a discussion, it’s orders. In other words he tries to square the circle, or just have it both ways and hope no one notices.

If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.

Classic, isn’t it? If it’s a dialogue about priests telling women what to do, then that would be the dialogue. If by dialogue they mean that they get to be treated as equals with equal capabilities to think and equal access to the sources of the church’s “teachings” (whatever the hell those sources might be), then hell no, of course that’s not the dialogue the Holy See would allow for one second.

I think that the fundamental faith of the Catholic Church is that there are objective truths and there are teachings of the faith that really do come from revelation and that are interpreted authentically through the teaching office of the church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that are expected to be believed with the obedience of faith.

And those are things that are not negotiable. You can have dialogue about understanding these things, but it is faith seeking understanding. It’s not new understandings that then change the faith. And I think that’s what really gets to the heart of all that we find in this assessment, that they are promoting, unilaterally, new understandings, a new kind of theology that is not in accordance with the faith of the church.

Yes, that’s the heart of it all right. It’s a clusterfuck at the heart of the whole thing. What is that revelation? What is its source? Is it the bible? No, because you don’t find all this nonsense that the church is forcing on the nuns spelled out in the bible. So what is it then? It’s interpretation “authentically through the teaching office of the church” – but what is the source of that authenticity? What makes their “teaching office” better than any other teaching office?

Nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s just their say so, that’s all. It’s a house of cards, but the bishop defends it and imposes it as if it were not. It’s a classic example of authoritarianism that gets away with it because it’s dressed up in piety.