Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

What lack of compassion?

Having read excellent columns by Alex Coccia in the past, I was disappointed by his treatment of the Vatican's investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious ("Catholic compassion, not condemnation," April 25). Mr. Coccia's notion of compassion rightly emphasizes social justice and the promotion of equality, but he overlooks the possibility of a corrective compassion, a "tough-love" compassion which seeks the betterment of the other through the cultivation of truth and the correction of error.

It is this sort of compassion for which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith exists to embody. It is this sort of compassion at which the CDF's investigation of the LCWR aims.

It can be argued that the investigation doesn't hit the mark, but I don't see any substantial argument for that conclusion in Mr. Coccia's column. Changing the "doctrinal problems" explicitly mentioned by the CDF - women's ordination, abortion, euthanasia, public defiance of bishops - would have little effect on the sisters' work of "'providing people with the best possible spiritual guidance'" and "'minister[ing] to people everywhere who are suffering.'" For this reason, the investigation, with its corrective compassion, is not tearing down the compassion of social justice. It will preserve what Mr. Coccia agrees is best in the sisters' ministry - namely, serving everyone in accordance with the Gospel.

Mr. Coccia cites problematic trends in the Church. I recommend to him the writings of Pope John Paul II, who preached a "New Evangelization" which sounds very much like the renewal Mr. Coccia recommends.

As for incidents like this one "removing focus from the good work the Church does," bishops don't exactly choose which of their statements make headlines. As long as one acknowledges that the Church does good work, as Mr. Coccia does, one should criticize the newspapers, not the hierarchy, for giving the Church bad press.

Matt Cole
Carroll Hall
April 26

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.