FutureChurch Statement on Vatican Mandate
to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
FutureChurch is surprised and saddened by the April 18 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith chastising the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for alleged doctrinal irregularities and announcing its intent to revise the statutes, programs, speakers, liturgical practices and justice affiliations of the organization.
The timing of the document is puzzling. Pope Benedict signed it thirteen months ago. Waiting until now to release it, risks giving the appearance of a deliberate attempt to influence US politics in light of the upcoming presidential election. It is well known that leaders of women’s communities have a different interpretation of the Affordable Care Act than do the US Bishops.
We are surprised that the US Bishops Conference went against Rome’s intent by making the document public at the same time it was issued to LCWR leaders meeting in Rome. Cardinal Levada gave the sisters to understand that it would only be shared internally on the USCCB website so as to give the women leaders time to communicate with their governing board.
In our experience the LCWR is composed of some the most faithful Catholic leaders in the United States. Their Christ-like love and commitment to the poor and marginalized is legendary. Their communities educate poor children, bring health care to the needy, advocate for the dignity of the oppressed, especially women, and advance works of justice and peace wherever these are lacking.
The Catholic Church is facing immense problems today: a worldwide ‘Eucharistic famine’ caused by the priest shortage, widespread closing of parishes, the profound failure of our bishops to be accountable for clergy sex abuse and financial scandals, and the hemorrhaging of Catholics to other denominations (or to none at all) because of a loss of credible leadership. With all of this one can only wonder why the Vatican is choosing to chastise and control the leaders of congregations of women religious.
Our Church would be better served if our leaders worked to reform Church governance structures to include greater participation of all the faithful, gender balance, transparency and accountability.
FutureChurch extends its heartfelt prayer and support to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as they take all the time necessary to address this very complex situation.
FutureChurch Statement on Vatican Mandate to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious 4/21/12