LCWR Statement...and More

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.

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9 years 10 months ago
To Joe (Above):  I too am saddened by much of the ''loudness at the edges'' and the mean spirited tone of those critical of sisters in the US who have taken seriously the Vatican II call to renewal. However, I would not always equate faithfulness to the gospels with ''unswerving allegiance to the Magisterium''. History shows that Magisterial teaching changes, and hopefully, deepens our understanding of how best to understand and live the gospels. Perhaps constant willingness to enter into mutual conversation with the Magisterium would express ''unswerving allegiance'' in a manner that allows for receptivity to the growth and change that is part of the dynamic of any healthy institution. With the advent of literacy, easy access to Church history, and instant international communication, we are clearly past the time in history when ''unswerving allegiance'' can mean blind obedience. The Magisterium also owes ''unswerving allegiance'' to the gospels, along with all Catholics.
9 years 10 months ago
I am somewhat saddened -- although I wish I could say I am surprised, I'm not -- by the general tenor of discourse on this issue. As is all-too-common these days, the loudness at the edges seems to predominate, usually with invective or derision. I, for my part, hope and pray this entire process finds the Sisters concerned to be good and holy women, faithful to the Gospel and unswerving in their allegiance to the Magisterium. I further pray those who have developed anger or rancor over this situation manage to allow Christ to replace such toxic emotions.
9 years 10 months ago
While the US religious sisters are being 'investigated' by Rome, Cardinal Law at St Mary Major Basilica is being tended to by three non-Italian sisters as house keepers. I would count one cook, one laundry, one duster,sweeper bed maker. ah... immigrant labor is nice all around .. yes?
9 years 10 months ago
When I entered religious life over 50 years ago, I expected to be cared for by my superiors and pastors while I worked in parishes for my room and board. I am blest to have participated in the new definition of religious life where I and my sister form a community of Gospel women invest their time and energy where Christ is found among the most forgotten of humans in our capitalistic economy. I no longer expect to be cared for but live the life of the disenfranchised who are investigated by the powerful.


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