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Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious

April 16, 2015

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has completed its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella organization for the majority of the women’s religious institutes in the United States.

Leaders of the LCWR met with Pope Francis on April 16, as the Vatican announced the conclusion of its extraordinary intervention into the affairs of the group, which represents the leaders of most of the mainstream women's religious orders in the US. Both the Vatican the LCWR issued brief statements welcoming the completion of the process, and agreed not to make further comments.

The doctrinal assessment of the LCWR was distinct from the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States, which was initiated in 2008 and concluded in 2014.

“At the conclusion of this process, the Congregation is confident that LCWR has made clear its mission to support its member Institutes by fostering a vision of religious life that is centered on the Person of Jesus Christ and is rooted in the Tradition of the Church,” said Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation. “It is this vision that makes religious women and men radical witnesses to the Gospel, and, therefore, is essential for the flourishing of religious life in the Church.”

The doctrinal assessment resulted in a revision of the LCWR’s statutes. In addition, an advisory committee of theologians will review LCWR publications and programs “to promote a scholarly rigor that will ensure theological accuracy and help avoid statements that are ambiguous with regard to Church doctrine or could be read as contrary to it,” according to the final CDF report.

With regard to the LCWR’s annual conference, “a revised process for the selection of the Outstanding Leadership Award recipient has been articulated,” the CDF report added, and the “choice of topics and speakers appropriate to the Conference’s mission and service will be carried out in a prayerful, thoughtful and discerning manner.”

The CDF and the LCWR also engaged in “clarifying and fruitful conversation” about “the importance of the celebration of the Eucharist; the place of the Liturgy of the Hours in religious communities; the centrality of a communal process of contemplative prayer practiced at LCWR Assemblies and other gatherings; the relationship between LCWR and other organizations; and the essential understanding of LCWR as an instrument of ecclesial communion,” according to the report.

“Our work together in response to the Mandate has borne much fruit, for which we give thanks to God and the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit,” the report concluded. “The very fact of such substantive dialogue between bishops and religious has been a blessing to be appreciated and further encouraged. The commitment of LCWR leadership to its crucial role in service to the mission and membership of the Conference will continue to guide and strengthen LCWR’s witness to the great vocation of Religious Life, to its sure foundation in Christ, and to ecclesial communion.”

“We are pleased at the completion of the Mandate, which involved long and challenging exchanges of our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of Religious Life and its practice,” stated Sister Sharon Holland, the president of LCWR.

“Through these exchanges, conducted always in a spirit of prayer and mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves,” she added. “We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.”

 


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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Apr. 17, 2015 9:19 AM ET USA

    I am hoping the Vatican does not take the pressure off. I attended a conference with one of the LCWR members last year where she talked about "casting her circles" (Wiccan?) and her healing powers. What was most disturbing was that I seemed to be the only one who noticed these statements were out of place...

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Apr. 17, 2015 3:55 AM ET USA

    “Through these exchanges, conducted always in a spirit of prayer and mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves,” she added. “We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.” Hogwash! That turns my stomach.

  • Posted by: aclune9083 - Apr. 16, 2015 10:32 PM ET USA

    So, will we see the dissident sisters adopt the habit so scornfully cast off since VII? Will the LCWR note and emulate the congregations that are growing are those faithful to the Magisterium (e.g,. Nashville) and who adopt the habit and demeanor of nuns? if not, more prayers are needed, in a hurry, to try to stem the flood of evidently endangered souls, both within the LCWR orders and the lay communities they touch.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Apr. 16, 2015 8:23 PM ET USA

    This wishy washy statement sounds like the CDF was run over by the sisters on the bus.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Apr. 16, 2015 7:48 PM ET USA

    I'll believe it when I see it carried out.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Apr. 16, 2015 7:05 PM ET USA

    And the band played on.

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 16, 2015 6:44 PM ET USA

    All the laity can do is watch and listen. We will know if there is any real change in the statements of the religious women's orders.