America Magazine Commentary Sees Hope for the American Nuns

Pope Francis, the CDF and the LCWR by James Martin, S.J., in America magazine

Today (April 15) the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement about the ongoing oversight and “reform” (to use their word) of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main umbrella organization of women religious in the United States, which represents roughly 80% of American Catholic sisters and nuns. In their statement, the Congregation noted that the new prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, as well as Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, met with the Presidency of the LCWR. Archbishop Müller also noted that he had spoken with Pope Francis, who “reaffirmed” the findings of the Assessment, and the “program of reform.” The LCWR issued a statement, which listed the participants in the meeting in full, and said that the meeting was “open and frank.” Several things need to be kept in mind before people jump to conclusions about what this may or may not portend.

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  1. #1 by Ed Wilson on April 18, 2013 - 3:02 PM

    I like and respect Father Jim Martin, S.J., but I cannot share his optimism in the face of the very clear Vatican statement saying that Pope Francis “reaffirmed every thing in the awful decree put out exactly a year ago by the doctrinal congregation. There was no modification of any of those draconian measures nor any indication that the Pope or the Vatican had even heard any of the valid points made in the last twelve months.
    True, the Pope is new and we don’t know how much he knows about the situation. But he surely could have postponed the meeting with LCWR until he’d had a chance to assemble his team and get up to speed. Alternatively, he could have instructed the Congregation to have a dialogue with the sisters about what has occurred in the last year. The Francis we thought we were getting to know might even have taken part in some of that conversation. Instead, there was apparently no dialogue; the sisters were simply confronted with the Pope’s reaffirmation.
    I cannot believe the Pope would have let that statement go out without his having reviewed and approved the wording.
    The most likely explanation is that the Pope meant the statement he put out. I have seen no reason to assume otherwise whatever happier indications we have heard about Francis. We need at least to suspend the honeymoon.

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