Um, LCWR, a “Futurist” may not have been the best choice.

National Catholic Register’s guest blogger Ann Carey reports that Most Reverend Robert Carlson, archbishop of St. Louis, a fine, fine bishop, gave a “warm welcome” to the sisters at the assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, encouraging them to figure out how to respond well to the doctrinal assessment handed down by the Vatican.

And then this happened:

In the first open session, the featured speaker, futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, was led through the assembly hall at the Millennium Hotel by several sisters who were waving orange scarves draped over their arms.

Once on the stage, the sisters moved in a circle around Hubbard as they raised and lowered the scarves and the assembly was asked to extend their hands in blessing while singing, “Spirit of vision, Spirit of life! Spirit of courage, be with her now! Wisdom and Truth be on her lips!”

Hubbard is an engaging speaker, and she knew how to connect with her audience, though the futurist terminology she used left this journalist reaching for a dictionary to look up “noosphere,” “cosmo genesis,” synergistic convergence” and “Christification.”
Hubbard believes that we are at a critical time in humanity, a “tipping point” that will lead to either breakdown or evolutionary breakthrough. She made vague references throughout her talk to the “crisis” the LCWR was facing and encouraged the members by saying that breakthroughs often happen only after chaos or crisis. Furthermore, she proclaimed, the LCWR members were just the kind of people to lead humanity to this breakthrough because of their “evolutionary capacities” that had guided the organization over the past 40 years.

“So my conclusion is that you are the best seedbed I know for evolving the Church and the world in the 21st century,” Hubbard said.

“Almost all structures are top down,” Hubbard continued, giving the examples of nations, states, organized religions and corporations. “So what is needed today,” she continued, “is a radical reform of existing institutions from their top-down version.”

Sometimes a facepalm is the best first reaction. My second reaction is to yell. Loudly.

Sometimes a facepalm is the best first reaction.

“Futurist.” Orange scarves. Chant circles. “Evolving the Church.”?

(Aside: Orange? Orange isn’t even a liturgical color! What good could those possibly do?)

For kicks, check out the insight and long-sightedness of she whom the LCWR values:

By 2012…we can have through the internet a synergy engine that will connect what’s created, in every field and function, if you can see it as a wheel of co-creation, and when that creativity comes together, we’ll see that we have the capacity to feed, to house, to clothe, to have the energy we need, and to begin our future as a global, co-creative, and eventually universal species in a universe undoubtedly filled with life our crisis is the birth of a universal humanity.

This video is from 2010. By the end of 2012, eh? “Utopia” really is an alluring concept. And it really does mean “No place.”

But back to the LCWR conference: Carey won’t be able to report about the executive sessions—media has been explicitly excluded (marked out by the loud green name tags. No word on whether they have to ring bells while walking the halls shouting “unclean!”) along with any sisters who consider “confidentiality” to include “I can talk about this with the media”—but if this display and Marx Hubbard’s exhortation for this great “seedbed” to “evolve the Church” amidst Orange Power is any indication, I think the Vatican has a better chance of getting a positive response from the Society of St. Pius the X. They may be cranks, but at least they have good liturgy.

I do, of course, hope I am proven wrong and the Holy Spirit moves in their hearts to, as a priest once thundered about the Jesuits from a pulpit in the diocese of Arlington on the feast of St. Philip Neri, “get over their infantile rebellion and become, once more, Catholic!”

Because we need them. All of them: the sisters, the SSPXers, the Jesuits. We need all hands on deck for what’s coming. That’s my futurist statement.



  • Tommy Joe

    Wow. That video clip spoke volumes. She really is in the mold of Deepak Chopra, with a dash of Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins thrown in. She’s perfect for a public TV fundraiser but as the opening speaker at a Catholic religious sisters’ conference?

    It doesn’t matter that she laced her LCWR talk with references to popes and Catholic figures. She knows the drill… pull in local references for your specific audience. If she was speaking at the NFL owners convention she’d lace her talk with quotes from Knute Rockne and Vine Lombardi but she’d still push a new age philosophy. (Actually the NFL is smarter that the LCWR, they’d never have her as a speaker.) Nothing here is rooted in Christ.

    Yikes, things are worse than I thought.

  • breathnach

    “We need all hands on deck for what’s coming. That’s my futurist statement.”

    Sorry Tom, we don’t need the Gnostics, and that is what this woman is selling-gnosticism.

  • Kevin

    Not a commentary on the literary content of the post, but the “Jesus facepalm” image needs to go. That image is taken from a statue across from the Oklahoma City National Bombing Memorial that St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral had made as a memorial to the children killed in the blast.

    I know that the author didn’t create or intend harm with the use of the image, but it’s use as a meme is a little offensive to some of us from Oklahoma.

    Sorry, back to normal commenting! 😉

    • Tom Crowe

      Kevin– You’re right: had no idea. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve swapped it out.

  • Nick

    From the quotes presented, I am having a hard time seeing any connection with what is said here and anything that resembles any sort of authentic historical Christianity. Of course, that’s probably why there needed to be a Vatican inquiry into the LCWR, and why the Vatican is urging them to come back to an authentically Catholic position, instead of the above which seems pretty far out there.

  • Brian Sullivan

    Orange not liturgical? Haven’t you heard of the Orange Catholic Bible? Sounds like Barbara Marx Hubbard has learned her theology from the Bene Gesserit in Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

  • Rob

    Bishop Carlson is a “fine, fine bishop?” Yet another Bishop who participated in the grand cover-up of sexual abuse…and got rewarded with promotions to (arch)dioceses of greater stature. Criticize the LCWR for not following doctrine, praise the Bishops. Craziness.

    • Shawn

      That’s ironic Rob, because the LCWR has been covering up sexual abuse. SNAP was at their hotel protesting the event.

      • Mara

        Shawn, let’s say your statement about LCWR is correct. Does that make Rob’s statement incorrect?



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