LCWR ops for dialogue over Vatican’s demands

Avoiding a direct confrontation with the Vatican, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States has opted for dialogue with the archbishop appointed to supervise a reform of the group.

The decision to enter into a “conversation” with Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle was announced at the end of the LCWR’s annual assembly in St Louis.

Outgoing president Sister Pat Farrell told reporters that “we are charged to enter into a process of dialogue”, but matters of doctrine would not be the LCWR’s starting point.

Rather, the dialogue would start with “our own lives and our understanding of religious life”. She also said the LCWR would reconsider if it was forced to “compromise the integrity of its mission”.

An assessment by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in April said a reform of LCWR was needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

Sister Farrell said the LCWR members hoped its leaders would have “open and honest dialogue” that would lead to greater understanding and to greater opportunities for women to have a voice in the Church.

She said members of the LCWR wanted to be “recognised as equal in the Church”, to have their style of religious life “respected and affirmed”, and to help create a climate in which everyone in the Church could talk about “issues that are very complicated”.

Sister Sandra Schneiders, professor emeritus of New Testament studies at the Jesuit School of Theology/Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, said: “There is definitely a desire to de-escalate the conflict, because fighting is not what we’re about.”

But she said there were also “non-negotiables”, including the belief that God speaks through many people, not just through the bishops.

Archbishop Sartain praised the sisters, saying: “We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church teaching or the important role of the LCWR.”


St Louis Review

New York Times

Image: St Louis Review

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