The MESS of the Catholic Church in America

The Decline of the Catholic Church: Radical Feminism, Moral Dissent, New Age, Liberalism, and the Disintegration of American Priests, Nuns, and Religious.

Catholic Nuns! Sweet. Innocent. Kind. Endearing. Compassionate.

Yet, the reality is that many Catholic Sisters, along with cardinals, bishops, priests, and theologians share a large responsibility for the current crisis going on in the Catholic Church today. This response will examine the disastrous downfall of clergy and religious in the United States.

From 1966-1976, 50,000 nuns and religious sisters[1] left the Church throwing off the “shackles of Rome” and alleged male oppression.[2] They jumped freely into a culture raging with anarchy, sexually liberality, and spiritual confusion. Many more Sisters stayed in the Church to change into something else entirely.

In the 1970s, they followed the depraved influences of pied-pipers like: Fr. Matthew Fox, Fr. Andrew Greeley, Fr. Thomas Berry, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Hans Kung, and many other heterodox and dissenting priests. During this time, Sisters seemed to develop as many spiritualities as there were religious orders.

Traditional Catholicism was cast out the window for a hodgepodge of esoteric prayers and new age practices. Simultaneously, nuns were hijacked by malicious feminists who held an anti-church agenda. One would not believe it, but rebellion, anarchy, and immorality summed up this whole generation of Sisters. In the book, the Green Sisters, one religious nun boasts about changing the religious vows and sums up the generation perfectly:

“Now we were marching in the streets, going to jail, creating our own liturgies, designing our own jobs, living in Third World countries, becoming radicalized, challenging the institutional church and making headlines. We prayed in our rooms instead of the Chapel, did our yoga, Tai Chi and Zen sitting, used a mantra and spontaneous prayer. … We socialized with men, gave retreats, called ourselves feminists, held press conferences, promoted women’s ordination, criticized the US government, rejected our middle-class upbringing, or genes, gave workshops, associated with the hippies and read questionable books and articles.”[3]

The original feminists in this country were all 100% pro-life, pro-femininity, and worked with great love to end inequalities all while not losing themselves. We revered them for their efforts. However, later waves of feminism arrived that were anti-Catholic and anti-everything. Frightening feminists like Rosemary Radford Ruether, a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter, was one of the big movers and shakers influencing women religious in a malevolent way.

Women’s Conferences, which are supposed to be a safe haven for learning and growing in our faith became a haven for rebellion hiring radical speakers which infected countless innocent Catholic women. Many good, unsuspecting Sisters got caught up in the craze, intentionally or unintentionally. If they attended these conferences, they were subjected to hearing talks about the goddess within, God being male and female, and many other neo-pagan feminist themes which were expounded upon.

They also learned about things like Eastern Oriental spirituality, Shamanism, Native American religions, New Age beliefs, Creation spirituality, Liberation theology, Wicca/Witchcraft, neo-paganism, goddess worship, and more causing many to reject their Catholic roots for a new “enlightenment.”[4] At one of these conferences, for example, There were Protestant speakers, a Jewish speaker, and a Hindu who delivered an address on the goddess Kali. There were also professed lesbians, witches, and former nuns who taught things like Raja yoga, Tai Chi, and other Eastern practices.[5]

In general, there was an overly obsessed and unhealthy notion of femininity and a rejection of the masculine. Many Sisters would overemphasize the worship of the Divine Feminine in different forms. Some even embraced the worship of Gaia, or the divine Mother Earth.

Women like Dr. Rosemary Reuther were also responsible for the hijacking of religious sisters. Rejecting her own Catholicism and having a deep hatred for the Church, Reuther stayed “Catholic” even though she accepted paganism in both thought and action. She helped spearhead the movement to change the Catholic Church into something of her own likeness and image. This dark and volatile woman was openly revolutionary.

“In a 1980 essay, she called for the ‘equivalent of a French Revolution’ to overthrow the authority of the hierarchy.”[6] She poisoned countless Catholics as a featured columnist at the National Catholic Reporter. Her book, Women-Church is more passed on pagan nature religions that on Catholicism, and everything is changed. Baptism is no longer the forgiveness of sin, it is freedom from the patriarchy. The removal of personal sin on Ash Wednesday becomes the need for the Church to repent instead.[7]

Women like Dr. Rosemary Reuther were also responsible for the hijacking of religious sisters. Rejecting her own Catholicism and having a deep hatred for the Church, Reuther stayed “Catholic” even though she accepted paganism in both thought and action. She helped spearhead the movement to change the Catholic Church into something of her own likeness and image. This dark and volatile woman was openly revolutionary. “In a 1980 essay, she called for the ‘equivalent of a French Revolution’ to overthrow the authority of the hierarchy.”[6] She poisoned countless Catholics as a featured columnist at the National Catholic Reporter. Her book, Women-Church is more passed on pagan nature religions that on Catholicism, and everything is changed. Baptism is no longer the forgiveness of sin, it is freedom from the patriarchy. The removal of personal sin on Ash Wednesday becomes the need for the Church to repent instead.[7]

All of these influences steered many unsuspecting nuns down the path wrong path. Unlike priests who defiantly left the church in the wake of the sexual revolution era, most of these new feminists chose to obstinately stay in the very church they disdained. They worked hard to rid the church of authority, to offer pride of place to the personal conscience rather than the Bible or the hierarchy, to discard God as a male, and to work toward inclusivity and syncretism to a detrimental level.

To the innocent bystander, it seems inconceivable that thousands of religious nuns would be won over. They were the founders of schools, the great educators of our time, laborers at hospitals and orphanages, missionaries to the poorest of the poor, and bright lights to the forgotten, uncared for, and defenseless. They were Jesus’ very hands and feet. This is true, and it makes the disintegration of religious orders in America all the more tragic.

Influenced by the culture, dissident priests-gone-wild, false feminism, and faulty interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, Religious sisters trashed many central Catholic doctrines like the centrality of Christ, objective morality, monotheism, the immutability of God, and more. The book Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism expounds on their lamentable defections. This quote echoes the one above from the Green Sisters:

“Nuns, who in the early 1960s had warned students not to view the Sacraments as ‘magical’, came to embrace occult practices, implicitly if not explicitly demonic. Out of the human instinct to express faith in physical gestures, many of those who ceased to kneel for prayer began to substitute yoga postures, T’ai Chi, “New Age” spiritualism or circle dances, and widdershins, around a smoking cauldron. They sought “empowerment” in the “ancient wisdom” of Eastern monism, “goddess” paganism, dubious “Native American traditions,” voodoo, witchcraft or the animist “spirits” of the newly invented earth religions. Some who denied the existence of angels found new age “channeling” and “spirit guides” credible. From disparate shreds of mythology, politics, and imagination, religious feminists have cobbled together neo-pagan and neo-Gnostic rituals to offer as appropriate expressions of ‘women’s spirituality.’”[8]

A wide variety of eccentric beliefs, disciplines and prayer practices developed and replaced authentically Catholic ones, which cast aside. Let us take the “Green Sisters” as one example out of many that could be enumerated. These Sisters peddle a creation, eco-spirituality. Many seem to worship nature alongside God, accept that common meals are the Eucharist,[9] and Mother Earth is the Bible and source of revelations.[10]

Additionally, Jesus is not the only Christ but an avenue to Christ Consciousness that we all must attain. As a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary is elevated to a place of divinity and is known as, the “Cosmic Matrix.” These Sisters replaced traditional litanies to Mary which asked for her prays with a strange cosmic alternative. For example, here is part of the traditional Catholic litany:

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Virgin most faithful, pray for us.

This is some of the revised version of the litany:

Matter impregnated with spirit,
pray for us.

Fire of the Galaxies, pray for us.

Dust of the stars, pray for us.

Music of the spheres, pray for us.

Energy of the Supernovas, pray for
us, etc.

Guide into the Ecozoic, pray for
us, etc.[11]

If strange, bizarre, and troubling are words that come to your mind, you would not be alone. Both Sisters from within the Green Sisters and other faithful Religious have spoken out boldly against these “New Age” counterfeits. They have articulated loudly the outlandish practices and heresies being practiced, calling out their panentheism, nature worship, and other pagan rituals that have overtaken so many of the authentic Catholic religions.[12]

Unfortunately, many Religious women to varying degrees were infected with less than sound Catholic teachings. They chose a syncretic blend of different spiritualities: New Age, Cosmic, Creation, Native American, Neo-pagan, Feminist, and more. From there, a plethora of Catholic, pseudo-Catholic, and non-Catholic teachings would filter down over the next few decades through many Catholic school systems, religious education programs, woman’s conferences, seminars, hospitals, and parishes.

“Not only eccentric individuals but entire religious communities from the mother-house down adopted policies adversarial toward the church.”[13]

In turn, they were responsible for teaching others in the Church, which in large part, helped create generations of confused, ill-informed, and uncatechized Catholics. Many people have left the Church because of the feared nuns of those days.

Religious sisters are not alone in this wholesale dissemination of false and fanatical anti-Catholic spirituality and doctrine. Endorsed by priests and the cardinal, “The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress sponsored by the archdiocese, featured a cavalcade of dissenters and anti-Vatican agitators. Advocates of female ordination, critics of the papacy, discredited theologians, and others found safe haven at the gathering” to promote their deviant ideas of Catholicism.[14]

Professor Ralph McInerny sheds more light on this anarchy. He states:

“For twenty years thereafter, dissent was allowed to continue unabated. It became institutionalized. … Dissenters were offered sanctuary in theology departments of Catholic universities, where from tenured posts, they dismissed and even scoffed at magisterial pronouncements, even teaching their students to do so. … These universities trained future teachers, for universities, colleges, and high schools; they trained directors of religious education. For years, students of these dissenting theologians continued to fan out into positions within the Church. … Anti-papal Catholics – controlled the seminaries, the universities, and other important positions in the Church.” [15]

It is safe to say that evil has festered within the walls of the Catholic Church
for 50 years or more. Let a cat out of the bag, and it is difficult to get it
back in once again. What would happen if a thousand cats were let out of a
bag?  Thus, the Catholic Church needed to take some action for the good of the Orders and the Church herself.

After the turn of the millennium, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began investigating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). This is the umbrella group for the largest organization of Religious Sisters in America which accounts for about 80% of all Religious Sisters in the United States.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered a major investigation. In 2012, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was designated to investigate the rogue group, to deal with dissent and “serious doctrinal problems.” Regarding the LCWR, the book Sisters in Crisis
explains;

“With the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, the CDF was ordering a
sweeping reform of their organization. Simultaneously in Washington DC, the USCCB released an eight-page assessment document that outlined the reforms to be made under the supervision of archbishop J. Peter Sartain with the assistance of two other bishops – Leonard Blair and Thomas Papraki.”[16][17]

Due to many New Age topics and heterodox views from speakers at their national conference, the organization was told they must receive approval for their speakers to ensure faithfulness to Catholic teachings.[18] Of course, this is only one aspect of the problems in the Catholic Church. Other
serious concerns regarded the liberal-minded bishops and priests, dissidents, who told lay people after Vatican II, that if they disagreed with the Catholic Church, that they should just follow their consciences instead.

This is exactly what Jesus said not to do. The turbulent times after Vatican II were rebellious ones, a rebellion which continues to this day in many ways. Too many people falsely consider themselves to be more of an authority than the Catholic Church and the teachings Chris Himself delivered to the Church.

The ripple effects of this spiritual madness and the blatant attacks against Christ’s Church still affect us today. They are in large part responsible for its spiritual devastation around us both in and out of the Church. Rebellion was the sin of the devil and the first sin of Adam and Eve. Rebellion is not a path to heaven and has no share in God.

Jesus taught that you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. The proof lies in the
rampant decline of nuns in America. In 1965, at the beginning of the mayhem, there were about 280,000 nuns and Religious Sisters. Today, there are less than 50,000 and most of them are elderly. In my diocese alone, there were over 2,000 nuns in 1965, and today in 2018, there are a little over 500 left.[19]

90% of these Sisters are 80 years old or older. This is the future of our
church if we continue down the same failed path! Thankfully, many young orders of nuns that are orthodox are beginning to replace the ones who have fallen away.

A new brand of Religious Sisters is exploding onto the scene today and are returning to the traditions of the Catholic Church. These Sisters wear habits
again, are faithful and obedient to Holy Mother Church, are orthodox, and are joyful, selfless servants. As would be expected, they are burgeoning in
popularity attracting women from across the world. One only needs to call to mind the Sisters of Charity, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, the
Nashville Dominican Sisters, and the Sisters of Life, to name a few.

The Poor Clares, the order of Mother Angelica, offers us a great example of faithful religious life. After Vatican II, this order chose to modernize and fall in sync with the culture. In many ways, they lost their spirituality, compromised their vows, and lived more of a fun and worldly life rather than a vocation of holiness for Jesus.

However, after seeing the rebellion of so many Sisters across the country, Mother Angelica returned to orthodoxy and a life of deep prayer. Since then her order has grown and she started EWTN, the largest religious radio and television network in the world. It has helped millions worldwide to witness the truth of Catholicism and to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ!

This was a top-ranking moral theologian who was promulgating teachings that were anything but Catholic. One can clearly see the confusion during the 1970s – 1990s when this kind of rebellion was rampant and in full swing. To offer an indication of just how far things went, 750 other theologians who should absolutely know better chose to throw their morals away and stand by his side.[21]

Catholics who are living in 2018 in the aftermath of the sex scandals can see how much moral filth had entered the church so long ago. In fact, the majority of all sexual abuse took place during this time. It is no wonder priestly vocations are down, the Church’s foundations have eroded, and the Church has lost her identity of who She is. This moral rot and waste must be extricated from our Church. Mother Angelica is just one of many faithful nuns who have been faithful to Jesus until death, even when viciously attacked by this moral evil disguised in the form of priests and bishops who tried to destroy her.

This feisty and powerful nun called out the corruption, dissidence, and disgusting perversions in the Church that even priests, bishops, and cardinals were involved in. For example, Raymond Arroyo narrates about Father Charles Curran who was a high-ranking moral theologian, yet, he believed in; “pre-marital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, and abortion – all practices strictly forbidden by traditional Catholic teaching.”[20]

While many older orders of nuns are unfortunately fading away, a new light is dawning. These new orders of Religious Sisters are a beautiful and encouraging renewal happening in the Church, a bright light of resurgence,  and a promise ofthings to come.  These Sisters are proud to be Catholic and proud to serve Jesus Christ and His Church faithfully. Let us not also forget the many nuns and Sisters who have stayed faithful to the Church and have served humbly over the last four decades. Let us pray for priests, nuns, and religious everywhere that this new “Springtime of Faith” may grow to maturity and come to a full bloom!


[1] There is a technical difference that most people are not aware of. Nuns are woman who never leave the convent while “religious sisters” are the normal “nuns” that you see in daily life. Most people usually call all Sisters nuns.

[2] Ungodly Rage, Pg. 20

[3] Taylor,
Sarah McFarland, The Green Sisters,
Pg. 32

[4] Ibid.
Pg. 29-32

[5] Ibid.
Pg. 31

[6] Ungodly Rage, Pg. 29-36

[7] Hauke,
Manfred, God or Goddess, Pg. 216-217

[8] Ibid. Pg. 23

[9] The Green Sisters, Pg.260

[10] Ibid.
Pg.174

[11] Ibid.
147-148

[12] Ibid.
260-265

[13] Ungodly Rage, Pg. 21

[14] Arroyo,
Raymond, Mother Angelica¸ Pg. 263

[15] McInerny, Ralph M., What went wrong with VATICAN II:
The Crisis Explained
, Pg. 109-110.

[16] Carey,
Ann, Sisters In Crisis, Pg.361

[17] Bishop Leonard Blair Takes on the LCWR, http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/bishop-leonard-blair-takes-on-the-lcwr

[18] Vatican official rebukes U.S. nuns’ group for ‘fundamental errors,’ LCWR issues response — UPDATED, http://thedialog.org/featured/vatican-official-rebukes-u-s-nuns-group-for-fundamental-errors

[19] Archdiocese of Hartford Pastoral Planning
Issue 2017
, https://www.stewardsfortomorrow.org/second-issue-2017.html

[20] Mother Angelica¸ Pg. 204.

[21] Ibid.
Pg. 205

About Bryan Mercier

Bryan Mercier is a professional Catholic speaker, retreat leader, author, YouTuber, and a Catholic apologist who has been teaching and preaching for almost two decades. He has also been aired on TV and radio in different states, including Relevant Radio, Ave Maria Radio, Sirius XM Satellite, and EWTN. He is the founder of "Catholic Truth," a non-profit dedicated to the New Evangelization and helping Catholics to know, love, and live their faith with purpose and passion each day!
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