Sunday, 6 May 2012

More on American Nuns’ Leadership


I have been wading through the LCWR  (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) booklet: An Invitation to Systems Thinking about which I have already blogged here.  Perhaps the saddest and most telling indictment is this:
10. What experience, skills, relationships, and resources do we bring to this effort?
As a leadership team we bring a variety of life experience, academic backgrounds, and enneagram and Meyers-Briggs configurations. Our strongest resource is the conviction that we do not have to change the congregation. We have first to change ourselves and stay in relationship with our members. Changes in the congregational system and consequently in other systems will eventually follow.
First, note what they do not say that they bring, as a leadership team, to this conflict: 
  • The Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity; 
  • The Cardinal Virtues: Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance; 
  • The Gospel or the Apostolic Tradition and Teaching of the Church; 
  • The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, the fear of the Lord; 
  • The Fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.
Second, note what they do say that they bring - A variety of:
  • Life experiences
  • Academic backgrounds
  • Enneagram configurations
  • Meyers-Briggs (sic) configurations
and their strongest resource: 
  • the conviction that we do not have to change the congregation.
No wonder they are morally and spiritually in such a wilderness.

Let’s consider briefly each of their sacred cows - or golden calves.

Life experiences teach only when interpreted.  To teach in a Catholic sense, they need to be interpreted through a Catholic hermeneutic, or (as Open Systems theory would have it) a Catholic Mental Model.

The same is true of academic backgrounds, and it would seem, at least from the evidence of this document, that a rather different hermeneutic has been brought to bear.

The Enneagram I see as highly problematic, of dubious origins and a weird thing for Christians, let alone Catholics, to pay such heed to.  But I know many love it.

The Myers Briggs model is more useful, perhaps, but it is a tool, not an end.  Its genesis in Jungian psychology is problematic (for me at least) but it does raise some interesting questions that are worth discussing.

None of these (with the possible exception of the Enneagram) is intrinsically inimical to the Catholic Faith, but to elevate them in your thinking to a place above the virtues and the teaching of Christ and His Church is somewhat problematic,particularly for the leaders of Catholic Nuns.

How did they get there?  I can’t help wondering if this is part of the legacy of the work of Carl Rogers who wreaked such havoc in the Catholic Nuns’ Congregations in the US from the early 1960s on. It all has the same flavour: placing process above outcome, and relativity and ‘understanding’ above the search for truth (indeed denying that truth exists, let alone that it can be found.)

That is so well expressed in 'the conviction that we do not have to change the congregation.'  Given they are leaders of a congregation in which some nuns clearly detest the Mass (see previous post) that is an extraordinary abdication of responsibility.

(Incidentally, I’ve blogged about Carl Rogers passim - there’s a search button at the bottom of the sidebar if you are interested...)

So one can see that it is not surprising that the Holy See is having a good long look at the Nuns and their leadership in the US. In fact, if that were not happening, one could say it was a dereliction of duty.