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Vatican to curtail nation’s largest org of Catholic women religious

Vatican to curtail nation’s largest org of Catholic women religious

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has overhauled the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, many news sources are reporting.

From AP:

An American archbishop was appointed to oversee reform of the [LCWR], which will include rewriting the group’s statutes, reviewing all its plans and programs — including approving speakers — and ensuring the organization properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual.


The report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the organization faced a “grave” doctrinal crisis, in which issues of “crucial importance” to the church, such as abortion and euthanasia, have been ignored. Vatican officials also castigated the group for making some public statements that “disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops,” who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

The archbishop in question is Peter Sartain of Seattle, reports.

Safe to say this fresh scrutiny will be applied in particular to LCWR’s relationship to Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, an organization that has been vocal in its support of the Obama administration’s healthcare initiative. The LCWR itself has taken a set of positions all on its own, however, that clearly alienate it from more traditionally held teaching.


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Clint Davis

I don’t see why we expect disaffected Catholics to seek out The Episcopal Church, because on the ground Catholicism and Anglicanism can feel more different than they look. I propose that The Episcopal Church instead look into helping establish a worthy counterpart to the Old Catholic Churches as they are in Europe, instead of the mish-mash, garage churches (sometimes deeply associated with Theosophy of all things!) that carry this lineage on this side of the Atlantic. This would seem to be more suited to the needs of refugee Catholics.

Nicole Porter

You’re right,Rod. I do see it happening sporadically here in TEC but not with a serious emphasis on it.

Rod Gillis

Re my last sentence, its a cautionary note. Some of the Roman Catholic women religious communities have a well defined and well articulated feminist tradition which they have brought to bear on the institutional church. These same communities also have a very active prophetic ministry grounded in Catholic social teaching.

Anglicans could learn a lot from these women about the need to balance charity with social justice. We need to be more critical about what we have to offer others, and more open about what we might learn from others. I don’t see Anglicanism, for example, as a hot bed of feminist activity.

Nicole Porter

Hi Rod, I am curious about your last sentence. Would you care to go into more detail?

Rod Gillis

I had the privilege to be educated in part by Roman Catholic religious, and later worked with some of them on community things in the past.

There are so many Roman Catholic religious who are bright, gifted, people of faith, and highly committed to the the poor and vulnerable. They are applying a strong feminist critique of The Church, and it is this latter level of engagement that has put them in cross hairs of Vatican bureaucrats.

They are not going anywhere soon, and the Vatican will find it has its hands full on this issue.

As for Anglicans who wonder if these women religious might come our way, be careful what you pray for. I’m not sure we would be ready should those prayers be answered.

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