NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of the national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said their “deepest hope” is to resolve the issues between them and the Vatican doctrinal congregation in a way that honors LCWR’s mission and integrity.
The board issued the statement after the close of LCWR’s annual assembly Aug. 12-15 in Nashville.
The leaders of orders of women religious took part in the assembly under the continuing doctrinal assessment by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which cited “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.
In Nashville, LCWR’s officers updated the members on their work with the bishops delegated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to implement a mandate of reform. Following discussion of the update, the members offered direction to the LCWR national board and president for their work with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, appointed in 2012 to implement the doctrinal assessment by providing “review, guidance and approval, where necessary” of LCWR’s work.
After the assembly was over, LCWR’s national board of 21 members took part in a three-day meeting that began with a one-hour session with Archbishop Sartain. The meeting was held in executive session and not open to press coverage.
The group in the statement issued afterward reiterated members’ belief that “ongoing conversation with church leadership is key to building effective working relationships that enable both women religious and church leaders to serve the world.”
“We will continue in the conversation with Archbishop Sartain as an expression of hope that new ways may be created within the church for healthy discussion of differences,” the statement added.
It also said the “ongoing conversations between CDF and LCWR may model a way of relating that only deepens and strengthens our capacity to serve a world in desperate need of our care and service.”
In his remarks during the opening session, Archbishop Sartain told the 800 women in the audience he was there “to be with you as a brother and a friend.”
“We come because the Lord has called us and the Lord has sent us,” he said. “That is what unites us in our faith. … I know this is fertile ground for us to discuss our love of God.”
LCWR has about 1,400 members who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The members represent about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the country.