Progressive coalition calls for Rome apology for LCWR criticism

A coalition of 16 United States progressive Catholic groups has written to Pope Francis asking for a public apology to American nuns and a theologian.

The Nun Justice Project wrote an open letter regarding recent comments by Cardinal Gerhard Müller to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

On April 30, Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, bluntly criticised the LCWR’s focus on a concept called conscious evolution.

He also expressed displeasure at the LCWR honouring theologian Sr Elizabeth Johnson, whose writings had been criticised by US bishops.

Future speakers and presenters at LCWR major programmes now have to be approved by a Vatican delegate.

The LCWR responded on May 8, saying a climate of mistrust had developed with the CDF, but dialogue would continue.

The Nun Justice Project expressed concern and dismay at Cardinal Müller’s actions.

It asked Pope Francis to remove the mandate imposed on the LCWR.

“Cardinal Müller’s pre-emptive public criticism of LCWR leadership and Dr Johnson, one of the most beloved and respected theologians in the world, eclipsed any opportunity for public dialogue,” it stated.

“This communicates that faithful Catholic female leaders are disrespected and discounted in our Church.”

The coalition suggested the situation with LCWR presented Francis with an opportunity to act on his calls for expanding leadership roles for women, adding “that the place to begin is to listen to faithful women who are already exercising leadership”.

The letter asked for a public apology to Sr Johnson and LCWR leadership, saying it “would speak volumes about the institutional Church’s intent to truly listen to women and honour their voices”.

The letter started by expressing “respect and gratitude” for Pope Francis’s “extraordinary leadership in our Church”.

Among the groups in the Nun Justice Project are Call to Action, the American Catholic Council, the Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests and the Women’s Ordination Conference.


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