LCWR Investigation

While we in New York were celebrating the installation of Archbishop Dolan, and preparing for our Centennial Mass, this news dropped.  Rumors had been around for the past few weeks among the secular media.  It's the news of the Vatican's investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  Not--mind you--the earlier investigation announced of women's religious orders in general, but the LCWR specifically.  Here is the first few graphs of the AP story:


...VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has launched a doctrinal investigation into the leadership of Catholic sisters in the United States, reportedly because they have not sufficiently promoted the Vatican line on homosexuality and other issues.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an association that gathers the leaders of most of the country's women's congregations, said it was informed of the "doctrinal assessment" in a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog.

The doctrinal investigation is separate from another Vatican-ordered study looking into the quality of the life in more than 400 U.S. women's religious institutes. That study was launched as the church grapples with the dramatic decline in the number of American nuns and sisters over the past several decades.

In a statement Tuesday, the Leadership Conference said the new doctrinal study would look into its activities and initiatives, but it provided no details....

The full story is here.

Let me just say this for now: The Second Vatican Council prompted an amazingly generous response by thousands of women religious, who carefully revisited their original charisms, tirelessly reinvigorated their work with the poor (following the lead of their foundresses) and updated their ways of life--all in concert with the authoritative documents of the Council.  In other words, they did what the Church had asked them to do.  May this fidelity, as well as the rest of their astonishing contributions to the church, be revealed by Vatican investigators.

James Martin, SJ


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8 years 10 months ago
The LCWR has raised up and been in the lead for many important issues. They could use some more publicity and their positions should be known to Catholics in general - which they are not; just as the Popes' positions are not generally known,I might add. On the other hand, leaders of Sisters or those on their councils are sometimes those into fads; will the investigation team be treated to a smudge ceremony or sweat lodge?
8 years 10 months ago
It is difficult for me to believe that the CDF has not already made a predetermined conclusion. This seems to be the Vatican’s modus operandi. An “investigation” process puts a veneer of fairness to the result. Consider the investigations of theologians like Charles Curran, Leonardo Boff, Roger Haight, etc. etc. No matter what the investigating party does to please them (or not please them), the outcome will be the same. For example, in the Vatican investigation of Fr. Bob Nugent and me, Bob agreed to make some ''profession of faith'' about the church's teaching on homosexuality while I refused. The sanction for each of us was identical. In this case, I expect the predetermined outcome to be a change in the canonical relationship of LCWR to the Vatican. The Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), the traditional group of nuns formed in 1992 by Cardinal Hickey, was not to be the official group representing women religious to the Vatican. By 1995, they not only had canonical status but also were favored over LCWR (e.g., CMSWR had more delegates than LCWR at the synod on Religious Life). The Vatican would like CMSWR to be the official representative of the leaders of US women's communities. I think the Vatican is using this investigation to usurp LCWR’s role and replace them with CMSWR.
8 years 10 months ago
The Vatican investigation is long over due. If you want to be a social worker then be a social worker - not a nun. A nun's first allegiance is to the Church - I am quite tired of running into nuns who: look like aged hippies, push for women's ordination, push for abortion, push homosexuality as an ok lifestyle and do this, supposedly, in the name of Christ. I think perhaps the Vatican should visit "America" magazine as well. Seems to me that some of you guys are off your feed.
8 years 10 months ago
Liz: If we like the way things have been going with women religious, are we allowed to keep our first-born children ... or must we squirrel them away in a Tridentine seminary so that they can be appropriately brain-washed? I'm wondering what I have to do these days to be a Real Good Catholic.
8 years 10 months ago
Thank you LCWR and all other religious women of many, many centuries whose foundresses were some of the greatest "social workers" of all times, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, teaching the poor, healing the sick. Thank you for actually following the gospel, the real one. And thank you, too, for not looking like the well dressed "must look like" model female with her perfect body, dress, make-up and conformity. Thank you for speaking out for those, as in Jesus time, who were marginalized and persecuted. And thanks for staying with religious life through many changes, hardships,and losses. Thanks for NOT wearing those older habits of 100% serge wool that were difficult to bear at times and those head pieces which could and did cut one's skin, causes rashes and other such difficulties. Not that you were not beautiful in them as well, but I thank you for thinking about who you are and your commitments more than what you wear. Thank you for always being the leaders and voices when needed despite these many "investigations" of the Vatican and Bishops. (Isn't anyone else concerned as I am about how these investigations are increasing, looking more and more like a former time which was anything but a safe or holy time in our history?) Thank you, Sisters, for speaking up for women in all areas and for not thinking it's ok to forget the real Christian history and women's roles in it. Thank you for representing American freedom which is not only threatened by other outside/inside sources, but by church leaders who feel they should control more than is their right in any country to control. Would that so many of us all looked like "hippies" and represented the acts of Christ himself as do the women members of religious orders world wide.
8 years 10 months ago
Humility is a tough one. So tough, that in modern times many good people have reinvented the virtue into something built on assertion rather than submission. I definitely fell into this category myself. Personally, I am going to use this as opportunity to seek clarity and intimacy with the One I love. Teresa Klara, ssnd


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