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Understanding the Vatican call for reform of the LCWR

Catholic World News - April 27, 2012

Two Catholic journalists have helped to clarify the reasons for the Vatican’s demand for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), rebutting the widespread misconception that the conflict is primarily political.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Scalia says that the Vatican has responded to pervasive confusion in the thoughts expressed by LCWR leaders. In effect, Scalia argues, the LCWR has lost its way, and the Vatican has interpreted the group’s odd theological expressions as a cry for pastoral help.

In Catholic World Report, Ann Carey, the author of Sisters in Crisis, reminds readers that the leftward theological drift of the LCWR led some women’s religious congregations to join in an alternative umbrella group, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR). The contrast between the two groups today is striking, she observes:

Currently, the superiors in the CMSWR lead orders with about 8,000 members, and the LCWR members lead orders with about 48,000 sisters. (A few superiors of women belong to neither group, and some belong to both). Even though CMSWR members represent fewer sisters, CMSWR communities are receiving the majority of new vocations and have an average age in the 30s, whereas the average age in LCWR-related communities is in the 70s.

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