April 29, 2013

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Vatican's call for reform of the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the U.S. nuns' group that he had "recently discussed the doctrinal assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform for this conference of major superiors."

The doctrinal congregation met April 15 with the LCWR leadership and Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who had been assigned by the Vatican to oversee the reform of the pontifically recognized leadership group.

LCWR is an umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women's communities as members, representing about 80 per cent of the country's 57,000 women religious.


LCWR, in a statement on its website, said "the conversation was open and frank."

"We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church," it said without further elaboration.

Last April, the doctrinal congregation issued an assessment of LCWR, citing "serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life."

The assessment called for the organization's reform to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality. LCWR's canonical status is granted by the Vatican.


During the April 15 meeting at the Vatican, Muller said the group, like any conference of major superiors, "exists in order to promote common efforts among its member institutes as well as cooperation with the local conference of bishops and with individual bishops."

The meeting marked the first time Muller met with the LCWR leadership, giving him the opportunity to express "his gratitude for the great contribution of women religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by religious over the years," said the statement released by the doctrinal congregation.

The archbishop "then highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the magisterium," it said.