June 11, 2012

Re: Kay Feehan’s letter, titled “Pray for U.S. sisters who are under attack” (WCR letters, May 28).

Women religious are not under attack.

First, let us thank God for the women religious in our parishes, schools, and communities who work tirelessly to advance God’s kingdom. The Church could not do without the faithful service of women such as these whose work is “an extension of the ministry of Jesus” (Benedict XVI).

We must also give thanks for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which assists women religious to fulfill their ministry more effectively.

Now let us thank God for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF seeks to defend the integrity of the faith that has been transmitted by the apostles and thereby to protect the Church from heresy.

By its investigations and actions, the CDF prevents people from hijacking the Church’s authority to transmit their own ideology. This office is particularly necessary now, in the wake of the general confusion surrounding Vatican II.

With regard to the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious: Women religious are most assuredly not under attack by the CDF nor is their good work. In fact, the congregation repeatedly expresses high esteem for the work performed by women religious.

It is concerned, however, that many women religious are expressing erroneous theology, and the LCWR is not correcting them. These errors are not simple expressions of femininity as opposed to masculinity; they frequently subvert the authority of the Church, distort Church teaching on faith and morals, and the worst ones undermine basic doctrines like the Trinity.

Given that women religious are teachers at all levels, we must applaud the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for demanding reform; the LCWR must not tolerate egregious departures from Church teaching.

Andrew Hoffman