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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Benedictine College Nuns “Leaned Into” the Vatican II Revolution to Foul Mr. Butker

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The Benedictine College Nuns “Leaned Into” the Vatican II Revolution to Foul Mr. Butker

One of the aspects of Vatican II that its liberal defenders seem to ignore these days is the Council’s defense of freedom of conscience, especially in religious matters, as set forth in the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae:

“On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God.”


The topic of religious liberty was contentious at the Council because the pre-Vatican II popes had condemned what Dignitatis Humanae said, as we can see from what Blessed Pope Pius IX wrote in his 1864 encyclical “condemning current errors,” Quanta Cura:

“[A]gainst the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that ‘that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require.’ From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an ‘insanity,’ viz., that ‘liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.’”

Pius IX went on to say that those who advocated for unbridled liberty of conscience were preaching the “liberty of perdition.” Whether or not one agrees with Popes Pius IX and Gregory XVI on this pre-Vatican II teaching, the fact remains that Vatican II effectively taught the exact opposite in Dignitatis Humanae. As such, those who purport to defend Vatican II display astonishing hypocrisy when they denounce the religious beliefs of Traditional Catholics who adhere to the pre-Vatican II teachings. In so doing, they effectively say that Catholics should encourage everyone to freely act in accordance with their religious beliefs, except if those religious beliefs happen to reflect what the Church taught prior to the Council.

Mr. Butker presumably anticipated opposition from worldly non-Catholics who detest Church teaching, but some of those who objected most to his defense of Catholic truth have been those who also champion Vatican II’s insistence that everyone — Mr. Butker included — has a right to publicly express his or her religion.

All of this came into play recently when Harrison Butker delivered his unabashedly Catholic commencement address at Benedictine College. He showed great fortitude and charity in using that opportunity to boldly tell Catholic truths in public at a time in which even the majority of Catholic bishops shy away from their duty of doing so. Mr. Butker presumably anticipated opposition from worldly non-Catholics who detest Church teaching, but some of those who objected most to his defense of Catholic truth have been those who also champion Vatican II’s insistence that everyone — Mr. Butker included — has a right to publicly express his or her religion.

This apparent contradiction is worth exploring, and we can obtain a fairly clear picture of the issues if we consider the response of the nuns of Benedictine College, who began their statement against Mr. Butker and his religious beliefs as follows:

“The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested.”

To properly evaluate this statement, we need to know something about the “founders.” Here is what the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica include on their website as the first entry in their history:

"November 11, 1863. Seven Benedictine sisters arrive in Atchison, Kansas, with the purpose of opening a school for girls. Foundress Mother Evangelista Kremmeter is pictured below.”

evangelista 1265x1536Mother Evangelista Kremmeter’s picture is very different than the pictures of today’s sisters, and not just because it is in black and white. The foundress dressed like a Benedictine nun, whereas today’s sisters carefully avoid dressing in a way that might lead people to believe that they have a religious vocation:


In addition, the foundress would have been quite familiar with the scene portrayed in the entry for 1939 on the history of the sisters:

“St. Scholastica chapel is built to serve the needs of the sisters and students at Mount St. Scholastica College.”

In the picture we see pews full of young ladies, in dresses and chapel veils, attending a Traditional Latin Mass, like the ones that Mr. Butker attends and lauded during his address. Conversely, the foundress would almost certainly not see much of a resemblance between the Traditional Latin Mass she surely loved and the Novus Ordo Mass which today’s sisters of Mount St. Scholastica attend. At least externally, then, it seems that today’s sisters may be the ones guilty of the charge they leveled at Mr. Butker: perhaps they do not “represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that [their] founders envisioned.”

But what about the part of Mr. Butker’s address to which the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica objected most? Do we think Mother Evangelista Kremmeter would feel a great need to denounce the following from Mr. Butker’s address, as today’s sisters did:

“For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world. I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I'm on the stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I'm beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

Presumably Mother Evangelista Kremmeter had at least reasonable reading and listening comprehension skills, so she would pick up a few things from these words from Mr. Butker:

  • He was praising all of the graduating ladies on their amazing accomplishment, and telling them they should be proud of it.
  • Butker said that some of those ladies would have successful careers in the world, but the majority of them would probably be most excited about their future vocations as wives and mothers.
  • He then rebutted the diabolical lies — which surely includes the prevalent lie that women cannot reach their potential unless they break from the “lowly tedium” of being a stay-at-home mother — by telling the young ladies how much he loves and respects his wife for being what neither he nor any other man could ever be: the beautiful wife and mother who is the Catholic heart of his family’s domestic church.
  • Finally, Mr. Butker did not say that “homemaker” was the only important title; rather he said it was “one of the most important titles of all.”

Surely Mother Evangelista Kremmeter would have appreciated the holy Catholic wisdom of these words. Here, though, is how today’s sisters of Mount St. Scholastica responded to Mr. Butker’s words:

“One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman.”

Aside from the fact that Mr. Butker did not actually assert that being a homemaker is the “highest calling,” one wonders why the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica felt a great need to take the other side of the imaginary debate — what, in their minds, is a higher vocation than the one the Blessed Virgin Mary had? Nothing in their remarks suggests that they think a vocation to being a Benedictine nun is higher . . . all we know from their statement is that “homemaker” cannot be the highest calling.

We also know that the nuns do not care for Mr. Butker’s overall religious beliefs, which they reject:

“We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic. We are faithful members of the Catholic Church who embrace and promote the values of the Gospel, St. Benedict, and Vatican II and the teachings of Pope Francis.”

These poor sisters do not appear to understand that one cannot simultaneously “embrace and promote the values” of the Gospels, St. Benedict, Vatican II, and Francis. As discussed in a recent article, Francis routinely rejects many key passages from the Gospels. So one has to choose, and if these sisters want to follow Francis’s novelties they will, tragically, oppose the teachings of Our Lord and St. Benedict.

What fruits do we see in 2024 from the once thriving community founded by Mother Evangelista Kremmeter? The aging and dwindling community has squandered its inheritance.

These sisters also seem to miss the eye-opening irony of the fact that Francis openly endorses essentially every religious belief in the world except for Traditional Catholicism. America Magazine’s hit piece on Mr. Butker even went so far as to include this quote from Francis:

“[The ideology espoused by Mr. Butker] reminds me of what Pope Francis has warned about repeatedly throughout his pontificate. Here he is in 2022: ‘. . . there is the fashion — in every age, but in this age in the Church’s life I consider it dangerous — that instead of drawing from the roots in order to move forward — meaning fine traditions — we ‘step back,’ not going up or down, but backwards. This ‘back-stepping’ makes us a sect; it makes you ‘closed’ and cuts off your horizons. Those people call themselves guardians of traditions, but of dead traditions. The true Catholic Christian and human tradition is what that fifth-century theologian [Saint Vincent of Lerins] described as a constant growth: throughout history tradition grows, progresses: ut annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate. That is authentic tradition, which progresses with our children.’”

So, according to Francis: Traditional Catholics are going backwards; they are guardians of “dead traditions”; they are a sect; and they go against the teaching of St. Vincent of Lerins. Setting aside Francis’s gaslighting about St. Vincent of Lerins, it is worth stepping back to see the big picture of the Vatican II revolution through the use of an analogy to mathematical certainty:

From the First Pentecost to Vatican II: 2+2 = 4

From Vatican II to Francis: 2+2 = 4, 5, and sometimes 6

Francis: 2+2 = anything you want it to be other than 4!

This is pure diabolical disorientation. We should expect the Jesuit America Magazine to agree with this “reasoning,” but surely at least some of the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica want to be better than that. Can they at least recognize that their public denunciation of a Catholic husband and father who courageously seeks to do God’s will runs afoul of the tenets of the Council they purport to embrace?

In all of this, we should always look to the test that Our Lord gave us:

“By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20)

What fruits do we see in 2024 from the once thriving community founded by Mother Evangelista Kremmeter? The aging and dwindling community has squandered its inheritance.

And how do those fruits compare with the fruits of another nun, Sister Wilhelmina, who herself experienced the Vatican II storms that have withered the vines of the community of the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica? The two communities — the nuns at Benedictine College and the thriving Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles — trace their roots to St. Benedict, but they bear very different fruits today. If we care about the test Our Lord left us we really ought to think about why that is. One can drive between the two communities in less than an hour but they are separated theologically and spiritually by the immense gulf caused by the Vatican II revolution.

God permits all of this for a reason. A group of elderly nuns leaning on Vatican II and Francis to denounce a Catholic man for honoring motherhood tells us something profound about where we are today. For those with eyes to see, this is yet another sign that we must reject everything promoted by the Vatican II revolution that has ravaged the Church and fuels Francis’s globalist agenda. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Sister Wilhelmina, pray for us!

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Last modified on Monday, May 27, 2024
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.