Catholic World News

CDF prefect gives blunt appraisal of talks with LCWR

June 15, 2012

In a remarkably candid conversation with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), says that a meeting with leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) went “pretty well,” but concedes that he has not seen indications that the LCWR is moving to implement the reform the Vatican wants.

Cardinal Levada emphasizes that the CDF is not questioning American women religious as a group, but only the LCWR. He argues that by making its criticism public—after years of unsuccessful efforts to resolve the problems quietly—the CDF has been open and honest. “We’ve been accused of a lack of transparency,” he says, “but in my view, putting everything out at once as we did was a gesture of transparency.”

The cardinal does not disguise the fact that the LCWR has failed to respond to the Vatican’s requests to date. He says that a positive sign would come in LCWR leaders engaged in an open discussion with Archbishop Peter Sartain, who has been appointed by the CDF to supervise the reform of the organization. “That certainly has not happened so far,” Cardinal Levada notes.

Putting the confrontation in perspective, the cardinal says:

The church is a broad umbrella, and it doesn't quickly exclude people, even people who disagree on one point or the other. That's not just a question of different views, but also different behavior. People may not act morally, and that's why we have the sacrament of penance as an access to the mercy of God. The church is not hasty about excommunicating anybody. But ultimately, this is about a group that represents the church doing so in a way that is accountable to the teaching and tradition of the church.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jun. 16, 2012 9:57 PM ET USA

    From the LCWR website...: “The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will meet May 29 - June 1, 2012 to begin its discussion of the conclusions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s doctrinal assessment and the implementation plan put forth by that Vatican office..... The conference plans to move slowly, not rushing to judgment.” And just “who” or “what” are “they” judging???

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 15, 2012 12:08 PM ET USA

    Apparently the years of eluding responsibility and attempting to try their case in public is not enough for the LCWR. I think one could make the case that the Vatican has waited far too long themselves - look at what happened as a result of the slow reaction in quashing Liberation Theology - it took years to quell to problems it created.