Yesterday, members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious met in Rome with Cardinal William Levada and members of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is investigating the LCWR for "doctrinal" issues (as detailed in my earlier post.) Today the LCWR has issued this Public Statement. (Photo at right: From the 2005 LCWR Convention.)
"Public Statement from the LCWR Officers.
April 23, 2009
[Rome, Italy] As leaders representing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, we are very aware that it is our responsibility to be faithful to the conference’s mission and goals. Thus our first responsibility is to represent our members, nearly 1500 leaders of institutes of Catholic sisters, with honesty, integrity, and transparency. We thank these women religious who have offered their prayer and fasting for our work this week as we met in Rome with various officials of the Vatican. This expression of support has only strengthened the great solidarity that exists among us as we together carry out the mission of LCWR.
We were disappointed to learn from an April 22 National Catholic Reporter article that some U.S. bishops and/or members of the Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops may have requested a doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We have always been clear that we are open to dialogue with our US bishops and, during the last 12 months, have been in contact with several of them over issues of concern regarding our ongoing relationships with local and international church leaders. We continue to remain open to conversation with the Committee on Doctrine and any bishop who would be interested in speaking to us.
Issued by J Lora Dambroski, OSF; Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA; Mary Whited, CPPS; and Jane Burke, SSND"
Also, helpful in understanding the genesis of the overall Vatican investigation of women's religious orders in the United States (a separate investigation underway) is this 2008 address by Cardinal Francis Rode, the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life, at Stonehill College, entitled, "Reforming Religious Life with the Right Hermeneutic," in which he spoke of "pseudo-aggornamiento" (loosely translated: "false updating") in the wake of Vatican II.
Here is an excerpt:
"Prayer, especially community prayer, and the sacramental liturgy were minimized or abandoned. Penance, asceticism and what was referred to as “negative spirituality” became a thing of the past. Many religious were uncomfortable with wearing the habit. Social and political agitation became for them the acme of apostolic action. The New Theology shaped the understanding and the dilution of the faith. Everything became a problem for discussion. Rejecting traditional prayer, the genuine spiritual aspirations of religious sought out other more esoteric forms.
The results came swiftly in the form of an exodus of members. As a consequence, apostolates and ministries that were essential for the life of the Catholic community and its charitable outreach quickly disappeared – schools especially. Vocations quickly dried up. Even as the results began to speak for themselves, there were still those who said that things were bad because there hadn’t been enough change, the project was not complete. And so the damage was further compounded.”
James Martin, S.J.