LCWR ready to defy hierarchy, analyst finds [CC]

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) appears ready to raise the stakes in its conflict with the Vatican, observes Ann Carey in a Catholic World Report story on the LCWR’s …


I wonder what these groups will do if and when the Catholic Church decides to revoke their membership. They may be willing to cut ties with the Church, but that seems like a very short sighted decision. How many young women want to become women religious these days? Not many, and those that do are likely orthodox and faithful to the Church. How, exactly, do these groups expect to survive this generation if they can’t be replaced.

Here’s more, and it includes a link to the sister’s speech.

I’m also wondering about those chasuble-like garments the nuns are wearing in the picture . . . what message is that sending?

We mustn’t despair about vocations, though - new orders faithful to the Magisterium are experiencing an uptick in new vocations. :slight_smile:

I don’t think they expect to be replaced, not by religious anyway. Some even say that’s their goal. If the Church does declare some of these orders’ status revoked, nothing will change. They will still claim to be the “real Catholic Church”. They will still condemn “patriarchy” in the Church. They will still be dissident and heretical. They will retain their (sometimes considerable) assets and remain the private left-wing and radical feminist foundations some of them actually are already, eventually under radical lay leadership.

Religious women in the U.S. mostly have to “start over”, though there are still some long-established orders that are faithful to the Church. Some are getting new applicants, but my impression is that the new orders are getting most of them.

Thanks for the link, it was really scary. :frowning:

As for the message being sent by garmets that look like a cross between a chausable and the curtains in a cheap motel, the message I’m getting is one that is not incompatible with vowed religious: “We have no taste in clothes.” :smiley:

What I wonder is whether there is anything that can be done to prevent these sisters from alienating the property they own from the Church. I find it hard to believe that people who gave them the property would have done so if they had had these views at the time. I have heard that many of the sisters that the leadership “represents” are completely faithful to the Church, but are not being heard. I pray that God will comfort them in this troubling and sad time for them, and bring their leadership to reconcile with the Church and be obedient to the Church’s teaching and guidance.


P.S. Did anyone else think that speech sounded a bit gnostic? Or a whole lot condescending?

Yes I would say that the last 50 years or so of the LCWR has been a dark time for the Church, if also slightly absurd. I feel like they’ve brought shame and disgrace on women’s orders. It would be a healthy move for the Church to proactively take a more genuine direction. (i.e., cut…)

The LCWR will diminish. The CMSWR will increase.

That’s really interesting! I guess I’m too young to understand the culture of the 60’s (which I assume is the source of these radicals) but I wonder why they chose to become women religious rather than run-of-the-mill feminists? Did they enter into their orders with their current mindset, or did they become the way they are while they were already women religious? There’s nothing surprising about their point of view or politics, but I do find it strange that they would hold those views while having chosen to be celibate.

We are living in days of darkness and must pray for His Light to shine into the hearts of souls. I will pray for these misguided “sisters”… sad.


It is as if Sister Schreck is claiming that in all the chaos and confusion sisters have experienced since they put their own interpretation on Vatican II renewal and completely changed the concept of vowed religious life, they have discovered rich truths unknown to anyone else in the previous 20 centuries of Christianity. “Many keepers of the great religious traditions now seem frightened by what we have come to know, they seem to find it difficult to converse with the complexities and hungers of our vision,” she claimed.

Wow! How arrogance blinds.

“Forgive them Father…they know not what they do.”

If one notices, most of the dissident religious are quite elderly. I think most of them joined their orders before the “spirit of VII” craziness began, though I imagine some joined despite the ferment going on in the orders or perhaps some did because of it. But again, they’re quite old and made their decisions long ago. People 10-15 years from now will wonder where they all went.

If one reads up on it, and if one knows any older women religious who have stuck it out, one learns that the radicalism didn’t happen broadly and overnight. Some orders were slowly taken over by radicals without the rank and file knowing for sure what was going on. But I have certainly met some sisters who “hung on” even though they were really alienated from their radicalized orders. Some, of course, have been ejected from their orders for being “rigid”; that is, faithful to the Church.

As to the radicals’ motivations relating to celibacy, I could only guess. It would not be terribly paradoxical, of course, for super-radical feminists not to want marriage. Some feminists regard marriage as a “patriarchal” institution designed to oppress women.

In other shocking news, the sun came up this morning and water was found to be wet…

LCWR is even a misnomer. Virtually every one of these “leaders” presides over congregations in the process of total collapse (non-leadership), the organization is not remotely willing to “confer” with leaders of orthodox religious orders (thus the formation of the alternative conference noted above), and it appears that most of them have given up the charisms of their congregations (not living in community, no practice of daily communal prayer, no religious garb, certainly no obedience). In short, they are terrible leaders, refuse to confer and have rejected the meaning of “religious.”

I certainly can’t argue that they aren’t women, but a score of 25% is an F on any grading scale.

I think the crisis in women’s religious orders is an even greater one than that of lack of adequate good priests. The priesthood numbers appear to have stabilized, but we’ve all but lost the vital presence of faithful women religious in the life of the church. My diocese (Rockford, IL) seems to have finally recognized the problem and is starting to do things. Faithful sisters occasionally visit my kids school to talk about religious life and conduct retreats and the diocese offers a girls “vocation camp” every summer where a number of orders and congregations send sisters to participate in the programs. Notably, none are LCWR members…

One of my teenage granddaughters went on a retreat put on by the Sisters of Life, my hands-down favorite order of sisters. Her dad has a photo of a large group of these sisters, but some photos are on here.

Look at that, see how young they are! The large group photo my son has would put every one of them at somewhere between age 21 and age maybe as high as 40, with most seeming to be perhaps around 30.

It isn’t as if there are no young women who will join religious orders. They just won’t join those dissident ones. But it’s true that religious orders in this country are basically “starting over”.

Gnostic, sophist, condescending, only occasionally credible in the parts about the charitable work maybe - overall it was pretty dense with a lot of verbiage that seemed more to obfuscate than to clarify.

I wonder about the property thing too. I don’t think they should continue to get a free ride when they’re not working with the Church. But it’d be hard to separate the weeds from the wheat, both practically and legally. Might cost more $$ in court fees and the only ones benefiting at the end would be the lawyers. Dunno. :shrug:

The chasuble-like garments - my first thought was "the draperies in ‘The Sound of Music’ . . . " :smiley:

The article in the link provided by 3DOCTORS was written by Ann Carey. She wrote two books detailing what went wrong with the LCWR called “Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Communities,” and her follow-up; “Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal.” Just in the last couple of days I heard Ann Carey interviewed on Catholic Radio about the LCWR flap, explaining how the leadership has become so corrupted. And, as **revert_jen **has suggested, that many of the sisters that the leadership “represents” are completely faithful to the Church, but are not being heard. And listening to her explain things makes you realize how way, way out there in left field they really are. When you start making statements like “moving beyond the Church, and even beyond Jesus,” you know that there are serious issues with them. For decades now, the LCWR has defied Church leadership, promoting women’s ordination, reproductive rights and so-on. Even the Vatican has noted, that some of the addresses given at some of the LCWR’s assemblies were a “serious source of scandal.” They need to be reeled in…pronto!

Peace, Mark

But if you had the secret knowledge, you would understand perfectly. :slight_smile:

… except uglier. :smiley:


Ann Carey was on the Kresta in the Afternoon radio show the other day. She mentioned that the LCWR was first warned in 2001 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to clean up doctrinal problems (which itself apparently was overdue at that time). I think the title of the piece should not be “LCWR ready to defy” but “LCWR enters 13th-plus year of doctrinal defiance”.

Media accounts often use the figure that the LCWR “represents” 80% of American sisters. It should be emphasized that the LCWR is an organization of individuals, who make up maybe 3% of American sisters. Suppose a member of your parish council decides to join a national organization. Later that organization claims to “represent” the 1200 members of your parish.
Well, maybe they do, maybe they don’t.

Even that 80% is probably outdated now, as those orders have shrunk since that figure was first used, and other orders, where no leader belongs to the LCWR, have grown.

In my area, one religious community has some sisters who are obviously much different from the positions taken by the LCWR. Those sisters are “counted” in that 80%. When a sister has belonged to a community for 40 or 50 years it is extremely difficult to leave - she still has her vocation, she still has close relationships to her sisters, who are her “family” regardless of their opinions. She still has her ministry.

Sisters, quite naturally, don’t like non-sisters telling them how to live, especially people who never have known “religious life”, including laity and diocesan priests and bishops. As a layperson with family members in the convent, I believe the issues are complex, so the solutions will be too, and must be charitable. As evil as the LCWR is, avoid ridiculing it. It doesn’t help any. In letters to the editor, internet postings, or conversations, point out that the 80% figure is a lie. In fact, a huge percentage of LCWR-claimed sisters are retired, and most of the others are in non-ministries like pottery or politics. A majority of sisters currently active in Catholic ministries belong to communities that have nothing to do with LCWR. Find a way to affirm and publicize religious communities that are faithful. Make information about them available to girls in your parish, Catholic school, family.

The LCWR needs to be dealt with by the proper authorities, and by sisters themselves.

This may help to understand the tragedy of 20th century nuns gone wrong.

Looking at their last annual report, it appears that a lot of the organization is focused on leadership development/training, and media relations/communication. Representing US religious congregations to the Vatican is there but doesn’t appear to be a major activity.

I’m left wondering what would happen if either side were to say “enough is enough” and the Vatican dropped their recognition of LCWR. They could still continue with their leadership development activities and their communication activities. They simply wouldn’t make trips to Rome or have to deal with the CDF. So what is there to lose? There must be something or they would have stopped talking to Archbishop Sartain a long time ago, but I’m not sure what they get from the Vatican.

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