The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is an umbrella organization of religious orders not known for, shall we say, orthodoxy. Put simply, you want find any women wearing habits at their gatherings. They recently held their annual assembly (Sr. Joan Chittister giving the keynote) in Atlanta and, of course, it meant that Archbishop Wilton Gregory presided at Mass. Is he using a punch bowl for a ciborium? And what about those glass goblets holding the Precious Blood? I suppose the liturgist for the Mass must have overlooked Redemptionis Sacramentum, #117: “Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily.”
Sure, the archbishop could claim that he only showed up and had to deal with what was laid before him, but if so the question would become: Are you a bishop or a sacrament machine? In other words, as priest, first, and bishop, second, the final responsibility for how the Mass is celebrated and for any liturgical abuses that occur rest with him. He could have refused to start the Mass until the proper reverence was shown for the Eucharist by having the proper vessels available.
Of course, the liturgical abuse was just the beginning of the silliness, if not the high point. How about this photo captioned, “All of the assembly presenters were anointed with oil that had been blessed with the hopes and dreams of the assembly participants.” Thanks, but I’d rather have my holy oil blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Then again, what can you expect from an organization for whom a key point of social justice is a printer cartridge recycling program. You want to see religious engaging in social justice? This is what it looks like.