Pope Francis Re-Affirms Vatican Censure of American Nuns

LCWRPope Francis has re-affirmed the Vatican’s censure against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which had been investigated by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith under the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Australian newspaper reports:

“Pope Francis has backed a doctrinal report drawn up under his predecessor Benedict XVI that accuses the largest group of nuns in the United States of holding “radical feminist” views, the Vatican says.

“The new Pope has ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform’ for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents around 45,000 US nuns and is known for its social work, the Vatican said.

“The statement said the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ludwig Mueller, met with representatives of the LCWR in the Vatican on Monday in an attempt to smooth over differences.”

The National Catholic Reporter has a full story which gives the background of the case and more details about this latest development.

As we reported last year, the investigation focused on three topics:  support for women’s ordination, support for LGBT issues, and questioning whether salvation exists outside the church.   As far as LGBT issues goes, support for New Ways Ministry was specifically identified as a problem in the “Notification” document that was issued last April.

LCWR today issued the following statement in response to this news:

“On April 15, 2013 Sister Florence Deacon, OSF, LCWR president; Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, LCWR president-elect; and Sister Janet Mock, CSJ, LCWR executive director; met with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Archbishop Luis Ladaria, secretary of CDF; and other members of the CDF dicastery. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was also present.

“The LCWR officers reviewed the activities of this past year since receiving the report of CDF’s doctrinal assessment of LCWR in April 2012.

“In his opening remarks, Archbishop Müller informed the group the he had met with Pope Francis who ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.’ ”

“The conversation was open and frank. We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church.”

Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle had been appointed by the Vatican to oversee LCWR’s activities, but because of negotiations during the past year, no such oversight had begun.

New Ways Ministry asks you to join us in prayer for women religious in the United States and for the LCWR which is the national association for the leaders of women’s communities. We pray in gratitude for their service and witness, and we pray that they will be allowed to continue their ministry unimpeded.

A list of Bondings 2.0 blog posts about the history of the LCWR case can be found by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

11 replies
  1. Karyn Jacobs
    Karyn Jacobs says:

    “So much for hope and change.” is my first reaction
    I am disappointed that Pope Francis didn’t dialogue with the Sisters himself.

  2. Judith E. Navetta
    Judith E. Navetta says:

    I am saddened by Pope Francis’ decision. My prayers are for the sisters who have given so much to the Catholic Church. They are the ones out there loving, helping, and ministering to the poor. Just another disappointment in a decision form Rome.

  3. Annette Magjuka
    Annette Magjuka says:

    I, along with the majority of Catholics, stand with the nuns and New Ways Ministry. What the Pope says will not affect the fact that the nuns are doing God’s work and that LGBT Catholics deserve to be full members of the church, including receiving all sacraments.

  4. Rachel Fitzgerald
    Rachel Fitzgerald says:

    the true judges of the Sisters’ “radical feminism” are the poor–to whom this pope promises his love

  5. Joseph Gentilini
    Joseph Gentilini says:

    I am disappointed in Pope Francis. I am afraid I placed too much hope that the Church would really become more inclusive. The Catholic hierarchy refuse to recognize Christ in the religious sisters of America and many of the laity, including gays like myself. They just become more irrelevant. I hope the sister continue to stand strong!

    • lynne1946
      lynne1946 says:

      Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t understand. How can he be who he appears to be, and be this as well? I’;m confused and disappointed and sad.


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