Website Review: Leadership Conference of Women Religious

A review based on:


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious claims 1,000 members who represent 95 percent of the 75,000 Catholic sisters in the United States. The group has existed since 1956, but a review of their history and focus shows major changes over the years, with the espousal of extreme radicalization coinciding with the rise of feminism and the post-Vatican II confusion. Included in their history are many examples of this, including the fact that Sr. Therese Kane, who chided the pope for not ordaining women when he visited the U.S. in 1979, did so as head of the LCWR.

The site is filled with antagonism toward the hierarchy and Church teachings, the emphasis on political activism in a secular humanist context, and feminist rhetoric.

The Vatican has called for a thorough reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella group that represents most of the women’s religious orders in the US.

After a thorough investigation of the LCWR, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) concluded that “the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern.” The CDF concluded that a Vatican intervention was necessary to reform the group. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has been appointed as the Vatican’s delegate to supervise the reform of the LCWR. The archbishop has been charged with helping LCWR leaders to revise the group’s statues, plan its programs, review liturgical texts, and reconsider the group’s affiliations with other organizations.

The CDF assessment—based on the results of an apostolic visitation conducted by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio—detected “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life.” The CDF report found that many American women religious have drifted away from “the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration.”

More specifically, the Vatican report found that LCWR meetings regularly included speakers who “often contradict or ignore magisterial teachings.” The group’s statements “do not promote Church teaching” on questions of human sexuality, the Vatican noted, and “it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.”

“Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose,” the CDF said.

The Vatican report called attention to ties between the LCWR and the liberal social lobby, Network, which has strongly supported the Obama administration’s plans for health-care reform despite the US bishops’ opposition. The report suggested a review of the LCWR affiliation with Network. The LCWR did not immediately respond to the announcement of the Vatican’s reform plan. But a former president of the group demonstrated the strength of dissent within the LCWR by saying that the Vatican’s action was “actually immoral.” Sister Joan Chitester told the National Catholic Reporter that instead of cooperating with the Vatican, the group should “disband canonically and regroup as an unofficial interest group.”

Read Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Review Ratings what do these ratings mean?

First Evaluated: 10/20/2000; Last Updated: 05/20/2012

  1. Fidelity: Danger!
  2. Resources: Poor
  3. Useability: Excellent


None Reported.


  • Fidelity: Champions the causes of major dissidents Example(s)
  • Fidelity: The language used throughout the site is indicative of the organization's liberalism. Example(s)
  • Fidelity: Goals of LCWR are primarily political Example(s)
  • Fidelity: The Vatican has approved an alternative group to represent religious congregations. Example(s)
  • Fidelity: Links to Pax Christi USA, Network, and other liberal Catholic and secular organizations


Institutions > Religious Communities
Institutions > Organizations

More Information

Leadership Conference of Women Religious
8808 Cameron Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4113
301-587-4575 (fax)
[email protected]

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