I’m SHOCKED! LCWR rejects the Holy See’s reform

From CNA:

LCWR accuses Vatican investigation of using ‘flawed process’Friday, June 01, 2012 4:42 PMWashington D.C., Jun 1, 2012 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is arguing that the Vatican’s recent assessment of the organization was “based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.”

Board members also said in a June 1 statement that “the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised” and might compromise the sisters’ “ability to fulfill their mission.”

The statement came after the LCWR’s board members held a special May 29-31 meeting in Washington, D.C. in order to review and plan a response to a report issued several weeks ago by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On April 18, the Congregation revealed the findings of its multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women’s conference, which noted “serious doctrinal problems” and significant need for reform.

The assessment document raised concerns over “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” that were prevalent in some presentations sponsored by the conference.

One such address discussed religious sisters “moving beyond the Church” and beyond Jesus.

These positions risk distorting Church teaching and constitute “a rejection of faith” and a “serious source of scandal,” the report said.

It also pointed to a lack of adequate doctrinal formation offered by the group, as well as letters from LCWR officers suggesting “corporate dissent” from Church teaching on topics such as the sacramental male priesthood and homosexuality.

In addition, while the organization strongly promotes social justice issues, it largely ignores the topics of life, marriage and sexuality, which have played a significant role in recent public debates over abortion, euthanasia and “gay marriage,” it said.

To lead renewal efforts, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle has been mandated to work with LCWR leadership for up to five years.

He will be aided by an advisory group of clergy, experts and women religious, along with Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield and Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, who was responsible for conducting the assessment of the LCWR.

Archbishop Sartain will work with the conference to revise its statues and review its links with affiliated organizations. He will also help create a new formation program offering a deeper understanding of Church teaching and will be responsible for approving future speakers and presentations at the organization’s assemblies.

Furthermore, the archbishop will review the application of liturgical norms and texts, offering guidance to help ensure that the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours are given proper priority in LCWR events.

In its June 1 statement, the LCWR’s national board criticized “both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared.”

The board members charged that the Vatican’s report on the organization has “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.”

The LCWR announced that its president and executive director will travel to Rome on June 12 to discuss their concerns with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Sartain.

After that meeting, the organization’s members will gather in regional meetings and at an August assembly to develop a response to the Vatican’s report.

With some 1,500 members, the LCWR members make up about three percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. However, the group says it represents 80 percent of American sisters since its members are leaders of their respective religious communities. The average age for members is 74.

The group had initially said that it was “stunned” by the assessment.

However, Ann Carey, author of the 1997 book “Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Communities,” said that problems have existed between the LCWR and the Vatican since the group revised its statutes 40 years ago.

Carey told CNA that members of the LCWR have shown a clear intent to change “the nature of religious life” and abandon some of its essential elements, such as communal life and prayer, a corporate apostolate and distinctive religious garb.

She explained that the drastic changes led some women to leave the organization and form an alternative group, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which adheres to the traditional elements of religious life and is attracting the bulk of young vocations today.


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  1. Weetabix says:

    LCWR’s national board criticized “both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared.”

    How humble the sisters are…

  2. Supertradmum says:

    It always strikes me as oddly consistent that those radical leftist groups within the Church manage to make themselves look like victims of the big, bad, male hierarchy. Being “shocked” is part of this language of victimhood. They forgot they made vows.

    Do they excommunicate themselves by being disobedient to their vows?

  3. Cosmos says:

    I am glad to see that the Church is concerned with the nuns “moving beyond” Jesus. The whole exercise seems absurd.

  4. frjim4321 says:

    The actual statement is available on the LCWR website but sadly only to those who can open “*.docx” files so that leaves me out for the time being.

    I find the prevalence of .docx files quite irritating since I would assume that not everyone in the world has a computer built in the past couple years.

    I’ll be eager to see the actual document rather then selectively excerpted snippets interpreted by the right-leaning CNA/EWTN commentary outlet.

  5. Dr. K says:

    If the LCWR refuses to work with Church leaders to adequately address concerns, then they no longer deserve the support of the Catholic Church. Cut them off and let these relics of the 1960s return to the dust from which they came.

  6. anilwang says:

    No problem.
    Let’s do a little math assuming their numbers are correct.
    LCWR has 46,451 members with average age of 74 (80%)
    CMSWR has 11,400 members with average age of 60 (20%)

    Assuming no-one else becomes a religious and nuns are immortal, the average age of the LCWR will be 94 and the average age of the CMSWR will be 80. Since nuns are not immortal, half the LCWR will be gone while most of the CMSWR will still be around. That would change the numbers to:
    LCWR has 23,226 members (66%)
    CMSWR has 11,400 members (33%)

    But the CMSWR are recruiting and due to increasing secular pressures (and saying they’ve moved beyond Jesus, so why bother with Catholicism) the LCWR are not. In 20 year’s its safe to say that the numbers will be much closer to 50/50 and the numbers will only get worse for the LCWR as time goes on.

    The LCWR is dying off. Unless they change directions, they will get to where they’re going. The Pope is offering them a life-line. They can reject it at their own peril.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    frjim4321, the document is not much more than what Fr. Z posted. You are not missing anything. The group is going to meet in August, after calling for prayer from their extended members, to write an answer.

  8. Dr. K says:


    You can download a free plugin for older versions of Office to view .docx files:


  9. jbpolhamus says:

    …and did we expect any different outcome? I think it’s very appropriate for them to stick to their truest convictions, wherever that may lead them. That way there is less likelihood of them confusing any potential new vocations through a subterfuge of superficial orthodoxy. The LCWR left the Catholic faith quite some time ago, and I for one wish them well on their journey “beyond Jesus.” The decision to turn back is always theirs to make, and they are always free to make it, but so too are they free to use enough of their own rope to hang themselves. The CMSWR will be waiting, with open arms I’m sure, if and when they return, and they can pick up their habits in the porter’s office on the way back in.

  10. anilwang says:

    They haven’t forgotten their vows. Remember the LCWR leadership are modernists, and as such they keep the same language of the orthodox faith but just redefine and “reimagine” and “spiritualize” the words so it means something entirely different.

    So vows in marriage are interpreted as being “only valid if everyone is happy”.
    And vows of religious are nice options, if it is true for you, but it might not be true for me, and its certainly not true in “an abusive relationship”.
    And Vatican II is to be interpreted via its Spirit.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    anilwang, well, maybe, but I think when these gals were young, they were not the same feminists they have become. In fact, I think they were truly serious about their vows, but have become apostates.

  12. maryh says:

    You can also download OpenOffice, which is free and will read docx files. That’s what I do.

  13. JohnRoss says:

    Does this mean the LCWR has committed an act of formal schism by refusing to be subject to the pope?

  14. Dr. K says:


    In the past, progressive bishops used to refuse various traditional priestly orders from operating in their dioceses.

    Could a faithful bishop with stones do the same with LCWR orders if they refuse to cooperate, or are religious sisters free to set up shop wherever they please?

  15. ContraMundum says:

    @Dr. K

    You seem to be asking if someone who has chosen to disobey one command from a Church superior can choose to disobey another. The answer to that is obvious.

  16. NoTambourines says:

    I graduated from an all-girls Catholic high school in the ’90s, and when I first heard of this investigation, I was not at all surprised. So many of these things sound familiar. There was some solid teaching, too, but when you’re an impressionable youngster, it’s like having a fly in your soup but not knowing enough to tell the fly from the soup until you’re older and already ate a fly.

  17. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Sadly, the expected result.

  18. acardnal says:

    The President of the LCWR was just interviewed on CBS Evening News. Among other things, she agreed with the questioner that not everything is black and white with regard to Church teaching/doctrine. She and the LCWR were given the majority of air time while the President of the Catholic League, Bill Donahue, was given time for a one sentence response. Hopefully the news report will be available soon at CBSNews.com

  19. acardnal says:

    The LCWR Press Release is about a page and a half. Here are the key paragraphs:

    “The board members raised concerns about both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared. Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency. Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.

    The board determined that the conference will take the following steps:
    • On June 12 the LCWR president and executive director will return to Rome to meet with CDF prefect Cardinal William Levada and the apostolic delegate Archbishop Peter Sartain to raise and discuss the board’s concerns.
    • Following the discussions in Rome, the conference will gather its members both in regional meetings and in its August assembly to determine its response to the CDF report.”

  20. acardnal says:

    To copy a comment from Rorate Caeli blog regarding this topic:

    Remind me again why the SSPX was said to be in schism all these years while the sisters continue to be in good standing?

  21. lethargic says:

    LCWR accuses Vatican investigation of using ‘flawed process’

    Well, who knows flawed process better than the LCWR? Really, ya gotta respect their experience here …. /sarc

    Their whole schtick reminds me of my 15yo daughter, who is constantly upset that her dad and I are “micromanaging” her and that we don’t recognize her ability and authority to make her own choices … even after a couple of serious episodes of really really bad judgment and lying … sigh …

    Really, what took the Vatican so blessed long to get to this?

  22. jilly4ski says:

    Watching the news coverage, one would think that the Vatican is getting in the business of every women’s religious order. (Not to mention the coverage of this has been about 10x the amount of coverage of the bishops lawsuit against the government). I just want to shake the CBS news people and tell them, this is not about the “Sisters” but about the LCWR, which is a completely different animal.

  23. Cantor says:

    Archbishop Sartain will work with the conference to revise its statues

    Now this truly is a detailed investigation!

  24. St. Rafael says:

    Surprise, surprise. The LCWR turns out to be heretical and schismatic. The Vatican’s attempt to reform the LCWR came 20 years too late. When will they learn? The LCWR needs to be stripped of offical Catholic recognition immediately. No more attempts at reform, dialogue, or reports. Just cut them loose, strip them canonically, and officially recognize the CMSWR as the sole represntative for the U.S.

  25. Mrs. O says:

    Yes. I see they are going to Lavada instead of Saratain. They should reflect on what the Holy See is trying to disrupt, mainly that their goal is somewhere in outer space and they, Holy See, would like to see them in Heaven one day – without misleading people along the way. The funniest things I have heard is that they are embracing this “new” way and such which are nothing but old heresies with new clothes and a lil lipstick. I really wanted them to do what was right and work together on this. Sometimes when that isn’t possible, it is time to part. And maybe when younger sisters come in, they can finish the reconciliation and clean up. I feel for the men and women who had to read ALL the past seminars, books, etc. I would not have had the endurance to do that.

  26. Dismas says:

    acardnal –

    In regard to the comment from Rorate Caeli blog: Remind me again why the SSPX was said to be in schism all these years while the sisters continue to be in good standing?

    I’m certainly not defending the LCWR leadership. However, Am I incorrect in being certain that none, in their challenge to the Magisterium of our Church, thus far, have yet had the nerve to ordain bishops?

  27. Peggy R says:

    The most important thing to remember about progressives/leftists which include the dissenting women religious (and other dissenting progressive Catholics):

    They NEVER give up. Never. They do not take NO for an answer.

    Thus, we must never fail in our vigilance as well.

  28. mysticalrose says:

    I’m with St. Rafael on this one — enough with the “dialogue” approach already. And for those who think this is an uncharitable response, consider all of the damage done to the faith of countless younger people under the tutelage of these apostate “sisters.” For example, Cf. NoTambourines (above).

  29. Sword40 says:

    Abp Sartain better take his “iron” with him to confront these “ladies”. Going to need at least 100 rounds of .45 hollowpoints to get their attention.

  30. Cathy says:

    Given their public statements and the content of their assemblies, it just doesn’t seem that an investigation was needed in order to make the claims that the leadership of LCWR has taken a stand of dissent in regards to Church doctrine. If you publicly murder someone and have a friend make a video of you doing it, then complain at your trial that the murder investigation was flawed???? I dunno, I just don’t see how their complaint holds water.

  31. Spaniard says:

    I suppose the Pope and the CDF are doing right in trying to save whatever is left of the ‘Catholic’ LCWR. The Church’s job is to save souls, and this old ladies/sisters are not excluded. I believe all we can do now is pray the Holy Spirit might find a way into their organisation, before it’s too late.
    Virgin Mary, Queen of Virgins, pray for us and them.

  32. Anne 2 says:

    There are 3 kinds of Catholics – — “Faithful Catholics”, “Catholic Heretics”, and “Catholic Schismatics”. Faithful Catholics do their best to adhere to the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition” in entirety. For the definition of heresy and schism see: CCC #2089.

    No one forces anyone to become a Catholic or remain a Catholic in the Church. These women should just leave if they dislike our Faith so much.
    In addition, their Diocese Bishops should talk to the individual leaders of the LCWR and if they remain obstinate in heresy or schism, they need to be excommunicated.
    They are guilty of the Mortal Sin of SCANDAL as well.

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  34. Wendy says:

    Cantor: Archbishop Sartain will work with the conference to revise its statues …
    Now this truly is a detailed investigation!

    (grin) Perhaps it needs to be. Who knows how many of them have Buddha-on-the-half-shell in their front yards (instead of Mary).

  35. irishgirl says:

    I’m with St. Rafael on this one.
    The time for ‘dialogue’ is long past. If the LCWR won’t listen to what the Holy See has asked them to do all these years, then they should be excommunicated, suppressed, and cut loose!
    I’m lucky I don’t have TV right now; if I watched the slanted news reports about this, I would have to either hit the mute button or throw something [soft] at the screen! I am soooo aggravated with these ‘ladies’!
    Why doesn’t the secular media give ‘equal time’ to the good and faithful Sisters who are in the CMSWR instead? But nooo, that would be too easy….
    Sword40: Ooooo, I like your suggestion! His Excellency should take his ‘iron’ with him!
    Hollow-points, indeed!
    Dr. K: ‘Could a bishop with stones…’ Good one, too! [Aren’t you from Rochester, NY diocese? Your name sounds familiar]

  36. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    The sad part is that you don’t need to go far to contradict the report of the sisters. There is an address on the LCWR’s own website from 2002 by a Sr. Mary Maher, SSND, in which she says:

    However, I find equally troubling the fact that many of our sisters share the postmodern “consumer” approach to spirituality. We can easily get uprooted from our tradition, engaging without sufficient reflection in practices of other religions and traditions, picking and choosing what we like and what “works for us.” This thoroughgoing relativism, which declares that one perspective is as good as another, can lead us to a host of confusions and leave us bereft of any wisdom to offer the world. It is not uncommon to find sisters who see no inconsistency in toying with belief in reincarnation alongside celebrating Easter faith, or who embrace animistic faith in the divinity of the creatures of the earth and of the cosmos and find no contradiction between that and the Judeo-Christian revelation of a transcendent Creator.

    Notice her words — “many of our sisters” and “not uncommon” (i.e., it’s common). The LCWR leadership may go about denying these things occur, but their own keynote speakers admit that this nonsense goes on. Not only does it go on, it happens with many sisters and syncretic practices are not uncommon. The scandal is not what the CDF is doing, but the actions of the LCWR leadership.

  37. MPSchneiderLC says:

    This story almost sounds like it is out of The Onion. I think we need to pray for them; only the grace of God can save them.

  38. acardnal says:

    Thank you Fr. Pius, O.P.

  39. CharlesG says:

    I hope the reverend ladies are OK on the poverty and chastity front, because they certainly don’t seem to have obedience down…

  40. Duffy says:

    Truth to tell; the LCWR has inhibited at least two generations of Catholics from learning their faith. Yes, I know many of our priests and bishops are responsible as well. But the Sisters have rejected Church authority in a way that the priests or bishops never could.

    The Church has dealt with schismatic and heretical men from the beginning and quite effectively. Now, these ladies, (who demans equality with men in every sense of the word) are crying foul because they have become the focus after a mere 50 years of rebellion. How could those misogynist bullies in Rome treat these sweet, loving women with such distain? The answer of course is that all men, by definition, are sexist and therefore need to be ruled by the proverbial “iron fist in the velvet glove”.

    It would be best if the LCWR Board would, as their Priestess in Chief, Joan Chittister recommends, vote to leave and reconstruct themselves as a non aligned political interest group. That is, after all what they have become. Like so many other dissenting Catholics (on both the left and the right), these ladies too will come to realize that once they formally leave the Church they will be forgotten very quickly.

  41. AnnAsher says:

    What makes them think they get to make a response? Make negotiations?

  42. papaefidelis says:

    …and the collective jowls of the national board of LCWR quivered mightily in indignation.

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