Sister Mary Rose Reddy “We Do Not Feel at All Represented by the LCWR”
What did the Holy See actually say to the LCWR?
by Sister Mary Rose Reddy DMML: Recently the Office of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith issued a statement entitled, Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. (All quotations are taken directly from this 8 page document). Many people in the United States have mistakenly regarded this document as disparaging to women religious. Actually the contrary is true; the document praises the legitimate contributions of women religious over the years: “The Holy See acknowledges with gratitude 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.”
At the same time as the Holy See praises these legitimate accomplishments it rightfully criticizes destructive aberrations in authentic religious life that have developed in and through the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). (The LCWR was founded at the encouragement of the Vatican in 1956 to be the official representative body of women religious in the United States). Here are some of the LCWR errors which this document from the Vatican addresses:
1. There has been “a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration which leads, in turn, to a loss of a ‘constant and lively sense of the Church’ among some Religious.”
2. Speakers have been allowed to promote destructive teachings such as “Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious ‘moving beyond the Church’ or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life.”
3. Some members of the LCWR have been “protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.”
4. “Moreover, some commentaries on ‘patriarchy’ distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”
5. “…while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching.”
6. “Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.”
Having been a professed religious Sister for more than 29 years I welcome this statement of the Holy See. We, the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love (along with hundreds and probably thousands of other women religious), do not feel at all represented by the LCWR. We consider that the vocation of women religious is to personify the Church as Bride. The Bride is submissive to Christ, the Head (as particularly represented by the Pope and the magisterium). Through this powerful charism of submissive obedience, entrusted particularly to women religious in imitation of the exalted Mother of God, the life of Christ is brought to birth and nurtured in multitudes of hearts. Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See for protecting the authentic charism of women religious which we receive as an eternal gift from Christ the Bridegroom.
Sister Mary Rose Reddy – The Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love: Sister Mary Rose, DMML, is a founding sister of the Running Nuns, a religious order dedicated to housing children victimized by trauma, abuse and neglect. They are called the Running Nuns because they have a daily running program to relieve anger and stress of the victimized children and have a nationally known annual 5k race. Sister wrote this article because she “feels so strongly that we need to speak out for the many Sisters who love and support our Holy Father and the magisterium.”
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