Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations

Commentary on the Vatican’s attempt to control the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) continues to make headlines, as more Catholic religious leaders offer their thoughts on the April 18th announcement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Sister Jeannine Gramick

Two New Ways Ministry representatives and a DignityUSA representative have appeared in major media on the issue in the last few days.  Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, New Ways Ministry co-founder, appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell show along with Jeff Stone, DignityUSA’s director of media relations.  In that interview, Sister Jeannine stated:

“We women come from a different conception of  ‘church’ from the Vatican.  We are following. . . the Second Vatican Council which was in the 1960’s talked about the ‘church’ as a community.  And in a community, people disagree. But in a totalitarian institution, there is no disagreement.  This is the clash that we are seeing.”

Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone commented:

“The highest law of the Catholic Church is the law of conscience.  Pope Benedict himself has spoken eloquently about it. Even if you find your conscience is in disagreement even with the words of the pope, you are obligated in your conscience to follow your conscience.”

You can watch the entire interview of these two leaders by clicking here.

In a Washington Post article entitled “American nuns stunned by Vatican accusation of ‘radical feminism,’ crackdown” Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, New Ways Ministry advisory board member and President of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, struck a similar note to Sister Jeannine, in noting that women and men in the Church have different approaches:

Sister Patricia McDermott

“McDermott said the connection between priests and nuns has been weakening. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she said, ‘the mutuality and respect was extraordinary, feeling we were all in this together.’

Today, she said, different approaches to a changing society and the role of the church means ‘that sense of hospitality, many of us would say, is growing dimmer.’ ”

Sister Julie Viera

In the same article, Sister Julie Viera, IHM, (who is not associated with either New Ways Ministry or DignityUSA) observed that though nuns take a vow of obedience, that vow is clearly defined:

“[O]ur vow of obedience applies to God . . . it doesn’t reside in a bishop, a body of bishops or even the pope. For us, that sense of obedience has to do with listening deeply to the call of the spirit.”

These commentators join a host of others, including Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, renwoned Catholic author, and Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK, who have already criticized the Vatican’s directive.   You can read about Sister Joan’s comments here, and Sister Simone’s comments here and here.  For New Ways Ministry’s statement, click here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Pearl Raz
    Pearl Raz says:

    You go sisters! An historic moment in Church/world history. Stay center stage, and speak your truth of justice.

    A special shout out to Sister Jeanine Gramick.

  2. Peter
    Peter says:

    Until the truth is said we may be missing the point. To argue that obedience is to God and not to bishops or the Church makes it appear as though the two are enemies. The same Church our faith teaches is the sacrament of Christ in the world, let’s amicably dialogue and resolve our imperfections and misunderstandings and not bring disgrace to the faith we profess. Respect for one’s conscience is not exercised in a vacuum. You cannot act against the law of America in the name of freedom, every system has it’s own mechanism of control yet we are free to exercise our conscience responsibly, knowing the consequences thereof

  3. rita
    rita says:

    Obedience with integrity is always to one’s own conscience. Blindly obeying any directive is not following in Christ’s footsteps. Christ had to walk away from the religious leaders of his day. Sometimes, the truth can only be heard by those who love, not necessarily, obey. Love often involves turning away from what one knows to be wrong to seek a higher path. The days for amicably dialoguing were thrown away decades ago – long before the worst scandal in Catholic Church history ravaged the hearts and minds of innocent bodies. Obedience – no. It has been betrayed by those who abused it.


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  1. […] April 22, 2012: Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations […]

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  4. […] Sister Jeannine resisted the Vatican’s control, and she continues to be involved in promoting equality and justice for LGBT Catholics in the church and the larger civil community, as well as speaking out on a variety of church reform issues, including, most recently, the LCWR case.  […]

  5. […] April 22: “Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations“ Links:  MSNBC interviews with […]

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