Congregation for Religious not consulted over LCWR

The Vatican congregation that deals with religious life was not consulted over the decision to require the major group of women religious in the United States to reform its statues and programmes, the congregation’s head has revealed.

Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Religious, said the lack of discussion over the action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) caused him “much pain”.

“We have to change this way of doing things,” the cardinal said during an open dialogue session with some 800 leaders of sisters’ communities at the triennial assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in Rome.

“Cardinals can’t be mistrustful of each other. This is not the way the Church should function.”

Cardinal Braz de Aviz referred several times to tensions between sisters and bishops on Church authority, questions of obedience, and the future of religious life.

At one point he even called for a wide-ranging review of structures of Church power.

“We are in a moment of needing to review and revision some things,” he said. “Obedience and authority must be renewed, re-visioned.

“Authority that commands, kills. Obedience that becomes a copy of what the other person says, infantilises.”

Cardinal Braz de Aviz said his congregation first learned of the move against the LCWR in a meeting with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after the formal report on the matter had been completed.

At that meeting, he said, he told Cardinal William Levada, who has since retired as head of the doctrinal congregation, that the matter should have been discussed between the Vatican offices.

“We will obey what the Holy Father wants and what will be decided through you,” Cardinal Braz de Aviz told the sisters he had said to Levada. “But we must say that this material which should be discussed together has not been discussed together.”

“I obeyed,” Cardinal Braz de Aviz told the sisters. “But I had so much pain within me.”

He also said it was the first time he was discussing the lack of consultation publicly, saying he previously “didn’t have the courage to speak.”


National Catholic Reporter

National Catholic Reporter

Image: National Catholic Reporter

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , , ,