nothing to see here, folks

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 09, 2009

 Archbishop Edwin O'Brien knows a thing or two about apostolic visitations. He led the apostolic visitation of American seminaries that was ordered up by the Vatican at the height of the sex-abuse scandal. That investigation, you'll recall, concluded with an assurance that the seminaries were in fine shape, and we could all relax.

Now Archbishop O'Brien is assuring American nuns that they, too, can relax about the apostolic visitation currently underway into women's religious orders.

As far as I can see, our women religious have nothing to fear from an Apostolic Visitation, and I will do all I can to assist in making this a positive experience for all involved.

Oh, there are a few problems, the archbishop concedes. "The fact that some communities are receiving few if any vocations, for instance, is of real concern to them and the whole Church." But we shouldn't be agitated by the reports about nuns denouncing the Vatican "patriarchy," lobbying for ordination of women, and organizing Gaia-worship services. The apostolic visitation will produce a few ripples, but no big waves, he signals; business-as-usual will continue.

The calming message from Archbishop O'Brien-- following close after a very similar signal from Cardinal Sean O'Malley-- suggests that after weeks of bitter complaints about the Vatican inquiry, American women's religious orders are now quietly rallying support within the US hierarchy.

When an archbishop says that a Vatican investigation won't make waves, he's not just trying to make a prediction; he's trying to make a policy.

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  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Oct. 14, 2009 1:15 PM ET USA

    Makes me laugh...a few years ago I volunteered to teach catechism to boys in our VA parish. The near-retirement age uber liberal nun began to quiz me about my job & then announced "You know we are a Vatican 2 parish?" Well I wasn't smart enough to know what that meant but I recognize code when I hear it and told her "Roger that Sister, V2 all the way." I dumped the inane books with the stupid 70's art I grew up with & hated and taught from Acts. Sr's gone and good riddance! I'm still here!

  • Posted by: family-man - Oct. 12, 2009 2:55 PM ET USA

    "where never is heard a discouraging word" I think I remember a cardinal once discouraging a Southern nun who had a TV station, but perhaps that is rare and only done in extreme cases. Now I read that Pope Benedict has honored Mother Angelica with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal. (

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Oct. 12, 2009 9:24 AM ET USA

    Again this is the result of the Holy See's failure to govern since Bl John XXIII's "medicine of mercy" address. Here you have basically two American archbishops Baltimore and Boston undermining the Holy See. There never seem to be consequences for action like this. That religious life is in trouble is there for everyone to see but the blind man. This is has been called home on the range theology: where never is heard a discouraging word! American bishops have excelled in this.

  • Posted by: Japheth - Oct. 10, 2009 12:23 AM ET USA

    No one in the hierarchy gets rewarded for confrontation, for rehabilitating priests and nuns, so no one tries. Or if they do, a few angry phone calls leads to a message that the episcopal throne is at the back of the bus. This ain't the medicine the Church needs. I vote to put Diogenes in charge of the visitation.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Oct. 09, 2009 5:48 PM ET USA

    I used to think that Archbishop O'Brien was a sharp man. Now I'm convinced that I was deceived. Can it get any worse in the Church?