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Nuns will dialogue but not at the expense of mission

Nuns will dialogue but not at the expense of mission

The organization which represents the majority of U.S. Catholic sisters said Friday afternoon it would continue discussions with church officials regarding a Vatican-ordered takeover, but “will reconsider” if it “is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”


The statement by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents some 80 percent of U.S. sisters, came at the end of the group’s annual assembly, held this week in St. Louis.

The sisters were responding to an April 18 mandate by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that ordered the group to revise and place itself under the authority of three U.S. bishops.

Reading aloud from a prepared statement, which came after approval from the 900 sisters gathered at the assembly, LCWR’s president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said LCWR membership wanted to use the occasion of the Vatican order “to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values and operating principles.”

As part of the Vatican’s mandate, LCWR has been ordered to place itself under the authority of an “archbishop delegate,” Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain.

LCWR national board is expected to meet with Sartain in St. Louis Sunday for about two hours. The focus of that meeting “will be on beginning to process with him and see how that unfolds,” Farrell said at a press conference.

The LCWR expect “open and honest dialogue” with Sartian that “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church,” the statement said.

“Religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,” it said.

“The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue,” the statement said. “The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible, but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”

The statement was approved by a wide majority of the membership, two members of the group told NCR.


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Josh Magda

Sisters, we love you. Take responsibility for your Church. You can only be intimidated if you allow yourself to be. Be the leaders you are- go for your highest vision of the good possible, and remember Who walks with you. St. Hildegard, bless them!

Apps 55753818692 1675970731 F785b701a6d1b8c33f0408

As a former RC, I do not anticipate a mass exodus of women religious from the RC Church. The very worst that could happen is the Vatican would suppress the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (which is made up of sisters from many different orders) and the sisters would form a new organization. Regardless of which side one is on it’s all bureaucracy. As far as I know, the LCWR (as an organization) has not done anything for which they could be excommunicated.

-Cullin R. Schooley

Peter Pearson

What if the good sisters received an invitation from the entire Episcopal Church to join us? Can you imagine it? Could we be so courageous and daring? Imagine the blessing to both them and to us. Bishop Katherine and diocesan bishops, please consider this seriously.

Bill Dilworth

What are the consequences for the sisters if the dialogue miscarries, in the worst case scenario?


[Because I suspect the Vatican will respond “This is not a ‘dialogue’. This is an ORDER!” (so to speak), and the sisters may find the following their best alternative]

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