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By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern

The Holy See has acted pastorally, out of Christian love, and in keeping with its proper role to guard the deposit of faith. The National Catholic Reporter's biased and inaccurate reporting concerning this entire matter has contributed to the secular media's feeding frenzy and thereby contributed to placing the leaders of the Catholic Church in a bad light. That is not responsible Catholic journalism. 

Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

6/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: CDF, LCWF, nuns, sisters, women religious, apostolic visitation, Cardinal Levada, Bishop Blair, Archbishop Sartain, National Catholic Reporter, Deacon Keith Fournier

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The much anticipated meeting between two representative leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell, OSF and executive director Sister Janet Mock, CSJ, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) occurred on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the leaders of this American group an opportunity to discuss the Vatican's call for their reform and express their concerns. The call from Rome for the much needed reform was set forth with clarity in a Doctrinal Assessment issued by the Congregation after a multi-year visitation and review. An eight page summary was released by the CDF and can be read here.  The leadership of the organization did not agree with the outcome - and has been quite vocal about it.  The decision by the Congregation to review the group was communicated to them back in 2008. Very serious doctrinal concerns were raised. Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo led a thorough, fair and in depth review. The results were presented in a Final Report of the Apostolic Visitation of women Religious in the United States submitted to the Holy See. It was fully accepted by Pope Benedict XVI. One line included in the statement expresses the heart of the specific findings, "the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern." Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain was chosen by the Congregation to oversee the implementation of the much needed reform of this organization of women religious. He was present in Rome at the meeting on Tuesday Jun 12, 2012, along with the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal William Levada. Unfortunately, some even in the Catholic Media, such as the National Catholic Reporter, have presented this very serious matter as some sort of battle between a "dated" Rome and some purportedly "liberated" sisters. That newspaper fostered dissent, fomented a party spirit and pushed its own dissenting agenda with irresponsibility. The National Catholic Reporter's biased and inaccurate reporting concerning this entire matter has contributed to the secular media's feeding frenzy and thereby contributed to placing the leaders of the Catholic Church in a bad light. That is not responsible Catholic journalism.

The truth concerning the entire matter was well expressed by the good Bishop Blair of Toledo in an article he wrote for his Diocesan newspaper entitled "Reality Check, the LCWR, CDF and the Doctrinal Assessment. It should be read by anyone seeking to know what really happened and what is at stake here.  Among the issues the CDF raised after the visitation and review are serious moral issues as the inherent dignity of every human life, including children in the womb, the proper teaching concerning human sexuality and the primacy of true marriage and the family founded upon it. Major concerns were raised over the groups approach to "the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration." This is all very, very serious business! Without this much needed correction and reform, the issues raised by the Congregation will continue to confuse the faithful, harm the members of the LCWR and impede the much needed witness to the truth offered by the Catholic Church in this age of moral relativism. The Holy See has acted pastorally, out of Christian love, and in keeping with its proper role to guard the deposit of faith.  The official Vatican statement on the meeting was short and blunt: "Today the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the President and Executive Director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States of America. Most Rev. Peter J. Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle and the Holy See's Delegate for the doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting." "The meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal Assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality. "According to Canon Law, a Conference of Major Superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member Institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local Conference of Bishops (Cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 708-709)." "The purpose of the doctrinal Assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting 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." The two representatives of the LCWR issued this statement: "On June 12, LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell, OSF and executive director Sister Janet Mock, CSJ, met with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and Archbishop Peter Sartain. "The meeting had been requested by the LCWR to address what the conference considered deficiencies in the process and the results of the doctrinal assessment of the organization released by the CDF in April. "It was an open meeting and we were able to directly express our concerns to Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain," said Sister Pat Farrell. "Sister Pat and Sister Janet will now return to the United States to discuss the meeting later this week with the LCWR board. As previously stated, the conference will gather its members in regional meetings and in its August assembly to determine its course of action in response to the CDF assessment." We ask our readers around the globe to pray that this organization rise to the moment with humility and allow the needed reform to bear the good fruit intended - for the sake of their members, the Church and the world into which she is sent. The meeting on Tuesday was described as "open and cordial". Hopefully it will lead to authentic reform.

The proper course of action for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is fidelity to the magisterium of the Catholic Church. They said "yes' to the Lord when they professed their vows. He continues His redemptive mission through the Church of which they are members and to which they owe their loving response of service.


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