No Hope and Change for LCWR Under Pope Francis

No Hope and Change for LCWR Under Pope Francis April 15, 2013

The Wyrd Sisters (Photo credit: Thomas Altfather Good, Creative Commons)
The Wyrd Sisters (Photo credit: Thomas Altfather Good, Creative Commons)

Two days after the election of Pope Francis, Thomas C. Fox of the Not Catholic Reporter called attention to an “upcoming segment” of 60 Minutes; CBS described it this way:

One of the pressing problems newly elected Pope Francis may want to address is the disillusionment among American nuns. Many were shocked last year when the group that represents most of them was reprimanded by the Vatican, which says that the nuns’ liberal ideas were undermining the Church.

According to Mr. Fox, the 60 Minutes segment “comes at a time of considerable uncertainty in the church.” He goes on to surmise that “Without a CDF prefect, the authority of Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who officially serves as the Vatican ‘archbishop delegate’ for LCWR[,] is in question, at the very least.”


fox’s uncertainty resolved

Sartain it is, however, that the LCWR (and Mr. Fox of the NSCCR) can be “uncertain” no longer. On his blog at Patheos, Deacon Greg Kandra quotes a statement from the Vatican regarding a meeting between the CDF, the LCWR, and Abp. Sartain himself. According to the statement, CDF prefect Gerhard Muller

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 (cf. Lumen Gentium nn. 43-47). … For this reason, [religious] Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See (cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 708-709).

Finally, [Abp.] Muller informed the [LCWR] that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed [its] findings … and the program of reform for his Conference of Major Superiors.

The Vatican statement could as easily have cited Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata.

A distinctive aspect of ecclesial communion is allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops, an allegiance which must be lived honestly and clearly testified to before the People of God by all consecrated persons, especially those involved in theological research, teaching, publishing, catechesis[,] and the use of the means of social communication.

It seems to me self-evident, let them deny it who will, that the very point of a religion is to advance claims about the Truth. Doctrine matters. Without that, you may be any number of things, but you’re not Catholic. And it is not good to have the laity in the pews confused about these points. That is why John Paul II was so at pains to point out the need for “allegiance of mind and heart” to what the Church has taught. That is particularly so for those in religious life. They are the face of the Church to the world.


orthodoxy shock

So I am not sure why it is that the LCWR is said to have been “shocked”—shocked, shocked I say!—by the Doctrinal Assessment (DA) of the CDF. The Church has kept no secret about its teaching on, to name just two key points, abortion and contraception. Perhaps the shock can be explained by saying that there have (without question) been disciplinary problems within the Church for some time, and it could be that the LCWR thought they could just go on in heresy without ever being called on it.

Let them be “uncertain” on this point no longer. The CDF made its assessment under Pope Benedict, and Francis is not going to change any of it. His reaffirmation makes that as clear as day.

God bless Pope Francis.


1. Fr. Z also discusses here and here.

2. The leftist rag Squawking Points Memo is outraged, to the surprise of no one. On that site, Nicole Winfield dusts off the alarmist description of the DA as a “crackdown.” Somehow I suspected it would not be long before the leftists turned on Pope Francis.

3. The LCWR issued their own terse statement here.

4. The shocked leftist despondency continues. Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today mourns that the “honeymoon between progressive[s] … and Pope Francis … may have ended” by the pope’s willingness to reaffirm the “stinging rebuke of most U.S. nuns.” [N.B., the LCWR is far from “most U.S. nuns,” but good luck convincing these people of that.] Ms. Grossman goes on to use all the standard buzz-phrases: the “controversial report” that was “a scandal,” [The LCWR is the scandal, Ms. Grossman.] the need for “mission integrity” in the LCWR, [For what?] the “political censure.” [Yawn.]

Expect this kind of bewailing and breast-beating among the far-left to continue.


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