Vatican begins reform of US religious sisters

The Vatican is concerned that the US Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has “serious doctrinal problems which may affect many in consecrated life” and is to undergo a forced reform.

The announcement, made on April 18 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, came in an 8 page “doctrinal assessment” based on an investigation by Bishop Leonard P Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and was carried out on behalf of the Vatican, beginning in 2008.

“The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises on religious congregations in other parts of the world,” the announcement concludes.

The LCWR is the largest umbrella group for Roman Catholic religious women in the United States and it is charged

  • with using materials that “do not promote church teaching” on family life and sexuality,
  • for sometimes taking positions in opposition to the nation’s bishops and
  • for being “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.”

Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain will manage the five-year reform, which will include rewriting the group’s statutes, reviewing all its plans and programs – including approving speakers – and ensuring the group properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual.

Noting the great contribution women religious have made to the church in the support of the poor, and in schools and hospitals, the Vatican insisted it was not commenting on the faith and life of women religious.

The Vatican however views that LCWR’s deviations from Catholic teaching have provoked a crisis “characterised by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration.”


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News category: World.

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