US women religious respond to Vatican congregation charges

A major leadership group of US women religious says two years of meetings with the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation has resulted in mistrust.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious said in a statement released on May 8 that communication had broken down with the congregation and, as a result, “mistrust has developed”.

On April 30, at a meeting in Rome, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller bluntly criticised some LCWR actions.

The cardinal objected to the LCWR’s growing “focus of attention” on a concept called conscious evolution, which he likened to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.

He also criticised the LCWR for honouring a theologian who writings were viewed unfavourably by the US bishops.

The cardinal insisted a Vatican appointee approve LWCR conference speakers.

But in their subsequent statement, the women religious rededicated their organisation to continued dialogue with Vatican officials.

“The continuation of such conversation may be one of the most critical endeavours we, as leaders, can pursue for the sake of the world, the Church, and religious life,” they said.

But they were saddened “that impressions of the organisation in the past decades have become institutionalised in the Vatican, and these institutionalised perceptions have led to judgements . . . .”

LCWR has been under a cloak of doctrinal congregation suspicion since 2009.

In 2012, the CDF, having completed a doctrinal assessment, issued a reform mandate.

Two years of further discussions set the scene for the LCWR leadership visit to Rome and its meeting at the CDF on April 30.

“During the meeting it became evident that despite maximum efforts through the years, communication has broken down and as a result, mistrust has developed,” the LWCR statement continued.

“What created an opening toward dialogue in this meeting was hearing first-hand the way the CDF perceives LCWR.

“We do not recognise ourselves in the doctrinal assessment of the conference and realise that, despite that fact, our attempts to clarify misperceptions have led to deeper misunderstandings.”

The women said they plan to continue discussions with the CDF.

They also said that, overall, their encounters with the Roman Curia were marked by “genuine interaction and mutual respect”.


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