Catholic Theology Inspires Speaker

Article excerpt

Barbara Marx Hubbard, an evolutionary thinker who is to speak this summer before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is not Catholic or part of any mainstream religion. But she says she has faith in the future.

In August, she will bring this message of hope to LCWR when she delivers the keynote address at the organization's annual meeting. The audience is likely to still be reeling from the criticism in a Vatican assessment that has shaken communities of sisters throughout the country.

"It's a message of hope, of cooperation and alignment," Hubbard said of the ideas she will explore in her speech. "How can we align that impulse to the deeper impulse of Christ in evolution, of God in evolution?"

Hubbard, who spoke recently in front of a couple of congregations of Catholic sisters, said she felt that her impulse to look toward the future and toward evolution was aligned with the "spiritual impulse of faith and trust and love" that she sees in the sisters, who are always working to meet society's needs

"I felt that they were true evolutionary leaders," Hubbard said, describing a "sense of synthesis and synergy" she saw in the sisters. "I felt, in some respects, that I had come home, to a family."

Sr. Annmarie Sanders, LCWR's associate director of communications, said the organization invited Hubbard to speak in order to get her perspective "on the context of the world in which women religious are living and ministering."

But Sanders added that Hubbard's is "one among many perspectives women religious would be considering as they [look] to the future of this life and how the life can best serve the needs of people today."

Sanders, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scranton, Pa., serves on NCR's board of directors.

Part of the Vatican order to LCWR calls for a review of the speakers to the group's annual conferences. The Vatican's doctrinal assessment found that "Addresses given during LCWR annual Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors."

Catholic theologians familiar with Hubbard's work, however, find much to recommend.

Hubbard, who is 82 and lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., is a mother and grandmother, educator and activist, author of several books, subject of a new book titled The Mother of Invention, and a former nominee for the U.S. vice presidency (she would have shared the 1984 ticket with Walter Mondale). But she is best known for founding "conscious evolution," a worldview that she says was inspired in part by Catholic theology. It is based on the belief that as members of a global society linked to one another by the Internet and social media we are becoming more aware of the world around us and more willing to change it for the better. …