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Compassionate condemnation

Caroline Jansen | Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dear Mr. Coccia,

Your attack on the Church’s Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) was not only erroneous but deeply disturbing. While the Church has handled conflict poorly in the past (in particular, the sex-abuse scandal you mentioned in your article), their investigation of the LCWR is neither unjustified nor uncompassionate, as you suggested in your article, “Catholic Compassion, not Condemnation” on April 25.

Firstly, you portrayed the “condemnation” of the LCWR as unreasonable without mentioning the source of controversy. The LCWR has preached wildly un-Christian theology, including an invective for “moving beyond the Church” or beyond Jesus. They have additionally (and bizarrely) objected to the fact that celebrating Mass requires an ordained priest and have preached messages contrary to the Church’s teachings on sexuality, according to the published Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR. Clearly, their teachings do not coordinate with the Church’s teachings, and the problem must be rectified.

Secondly, your idea of “compassion” is gravely askew. Allowing the LCWR to deviate from Church teaching and consequently lead Christians away from the truth would itself be uncompassionate.

You imply that the Church ought to tell people what they want to hear in order to promote Jesus’ teachings – yet Jesus himself never told people what they wanted to hear, but rather what they needed to hear, public opinion be damned! A classic example is the story of the woman at the well, in which Jesus called her out for having five husbands. Certainly, the woman was shocked by this “condemnation,” but she consequently converted. Correcting her unrighteous behavior was the ultimate act of compassion. The Church acts in Jesus’ role in correcting the teachings of the LCWR and therefore acts with utmost compassion.

Finally, the underlying message of your article, that “the Church must consider the image it creates for itself in the United States,” in its teachings is deeply troubling. Suggesting that the popularity of the Church should dictate the extent to which it preaches the Gospel is absolutely insane. The Church exists to illuminate the truth, not to make people “feel a sense of belonging.” To forsake the truth in an effort to gain popularity and positive image is directly contrary to the Church’s mission. Furthermore, it stands in embarrassingly stark opposition to Jesus, who continued to preach the truth regardless of what the public thought of it – to the point of death!

Therefore, Mr. Coccia, I beg you to reevaluate not only your opinions about the LCWR’s actions, but your alarming underlying logic. The text of the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR can be found at

http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-062e.cfm for all those who are interested.


Caroline Jansen


Cavanaugh Hall

April 25