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Vatican reaffirms need for reform in LCWR

Catholic World News - April 15, 2013

At an April 15 meeting with officials of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reported that Pope Francis has reaffirmed the need for reform in the LCWR.

Archbishop Gerhard Müller told the LCWR representatives that the Pope has approved the critical "assessment" of the LCWR that was submitted last year after an apostolic visitation of the organization, which is an umbrella group for superiors of many American women's religious orders.

In his remarks at the meeting, Archbishop Müller reminded the LCWR leaders that their group exists to promote cooperation among the individual orders and with the hierarchy. "For this reason," he said, groups like the LCWR "are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See."

Last April the Holy See appointed Archbishop James Sartain of Seattle as the Vatican's delegate to oversee a reform of the LCWR, after finding that “the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern." LCWR leaders strongly objected to the Vatican intervention.

Archbishop Müller reminded the women religious that their organization should "promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium."

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.” The Vatican's "assessment" also noticed doctrinal problems arising from the organization's work, including meetings with speakers who “often contradict or ignore magisterial teachings.”

At his April 15 meeting with the LCWR, Archbishop Müller praised the enormous contributions that women religious have made to the Church in the US, laying particular emphasis on the role that they have played in serving schools, hospitals, and charitable institutions.

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