Vatican orders drastic reforms of Women’s Religious
USA, April 19, 2012: The Vatican has called for reform amid a doctrinal “crisis” within the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), appointing Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead renewal efforts.
The appointment was made as the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revealed the findings of its multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women’s conference, which has more than 1,500 members throughout the country.
The assessment document explained, “It is clear that greater emphasis needs to be placed both on the relationship of the LCWR with the Conference of Bishops, and on the need to provide a sound doctrinal foundation in the faith of the Church.”
The assessment, initiated in 2008 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was carried out by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, a member of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee.
Among the key findings were serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference’s annual assemblies in recent years.
Several of the addresses depicted a vision of religious life that is incompatible with the faith of the Church, the assessment found. Some attempted to justify dissent from Church doctrine and showed “scant regard for the role of the magisterium.”
The document cited one address about religious sisters “moving beyond the Church” and even beyond Jesus. Such positions — which constitute “a rejection of faith” and “serious source of scandal” — often go unchallenged by the LCWR, it said.