Archbishop Sartain is known as a “straight shooter”

Noting his extensive experience with religious communities in the four dioceses where he has served as a priest or bishop, the archbishop expressed his “personal appreciation for the role of religious women in the United States” and “all the extraordinary things that they’ve done.”

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Editor’s note: When he headed up the Illinois Diocese of Joliet, Archbishop Sartain was known as a capable, fair minded executive, a thoroughly Catholic spiritual leader, and a good priest (not necessarily in that order).

This recent “dust-up” with women religious in the United States reminds me of the arguments my dad and my teenage sister used to have about how much and what kind of makeup she was wearing.

As I remember, they never really managed to agree, but they were able to (eventually) come to a mutually acceptable arrangement.

These sisters act as one “face” of the Catholic Church (and Jesus Christ) to the American public. They have a sacred duty to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, yet many of them have been failing miserably in that regard, for many, many years.

St. James rightly pointed out that faith without works is dead. The reverse is also true.

An allegedly Catholic sister who fails to uphold the authentic Catholic faith in her everyday work is giving scandalous false witness to her neighbor, while attempting to live the consecrated life in an undisciplined and seriously disordered way.

This particular initiative is long overdue!


  1. You know, I think that the problem is not with these sisters at all. I think that the RomanCatholicWomenpriest, Women’s Ordination Conference, and Call to Action have created so much controversy that the CDF is perceiving the LCWR through that lenses; these nuns are actually a very conservative group of Catholics who are well educated in doctrinal matters and who would not ever act in disobedience to Rome. I personally met Sister Joan Chittister in Chicago and she had been the head of the LCWR for a number of years. No, I think that these three other groups which I mentioned are directly responsible for the way they are understanding the Conferences which the LCWR promoted and led.

    Please be careful about making comparison statements about your father correcting your sister on how much make-up to wear with what is taking place with Rome and the LCWR. These are mature adult women, and their relationship with Rome bears no semblance with the relationship between your father and your sister; your comparison is what is known as a micro-aggression – a subtle sexist remark that degrades the dignity of these women who have totally dedicated their lives to serving Christ and you, Son. How does that feel to you – my calling you, “Son”? Doesn’t feel too good, does it? So don’t do that in an indirect way to these women. It is just as degrading.

    • Dear Siberian,

      Like it or not, the bishops have been our Christ-appointed spiritual fathers since the earliest days of the church. I personally have no problem respecting women, sisters, brothers, sons, or anyone else, bit I do know that people of either gender can be prideful and rebellious, and religious sisters are certainly not immune to such things.

      Joan Chittester prides herself on being smarter, harder working and more insightful than any priest or bishop. And maybe that’s even true. But so too, is Satan. When sister Joan she fails to fully observe and uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, she foolishly misses the entire point of her particular vocation. And she has been doing that for years.

      The LCWR first garnered the attention of the hierarchy a few years ago, when a series of wacko-radical speakers were invited to their annual meeting, at least one of whom … within earshot of the presiding bishop … claimed to have spiritually developed to a point where the Catholic Church was no longer necessary or relevant … and stated that she was now fondly looking forward to the new, “post-Christian” era!

      This was not just an isolated incident. Such speakers at the LCWR have been the “norm” for years, and they still are.

      Then there are the many and various “new age” practices adopted and promoted by many of these sisters, almost all of which are distinctly not Catholic.

      At the same time, traditional theology, prayer, devotions, and other tried and true Catholic teachings … not to mention moral and social principles … were routinely ignored, treated with disdain, or simply countermanded.

      There is no support for such things in the documents of Vatican II, just as their is no substitute for full, faithful, active participation in all the work, worship, sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church.

      The various orders of Catholic nuns have generally maintained their Catholic identity and charisms, while many of the sisters of the LCWR, have chosen to jettison theirs, yet both still claim to be equally Catholic. And there’s the scandal!

      Anyone who sets out to forge a new path in opposition to authoritative Catholic principles is in spiritual jeopardy, and the only charitable thing to do for such persons is respectfully remind them that they have a serious problem … and then offer to help.

      That’s what the hierarchy of the church is doing right now … whether the sisters like it or not. The bishops have the authority and the duty to do so, for a number of reasons … primarily because the LCWR is a canonically constituted arm of the Catholic Church.

      As for the other groups you mentioned … most are laity, and the others are excommunicated … so their problems remain distinctly their own. No telling what will happen there.

      Thanks for writing!

      Your son,


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