Nearly a year after the Vatican announced a a crackdown on the largest group of American nuns, Pope Francis has directed that the overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious continue.
The Washington Post reports that Francis “reaffirmed the findings” of the Vatican investigation and the “program of reform” for LCWR.
In one of the more memorable acts of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy, the Vatican issued a “doctrinal assessment” that criticized the LCWR for not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.
The Vatican also criticized the women for “serious doctrinal problems," and said LCWR conferences suffered from “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The move was viewed harshly by many American Catholics as heavy-handed, and the appointment of Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to overhaul the group’s practices and perceived theological ambiguities was met with protest.
The LCWR, which represents most of the 57,000 Catholic sisters in the U.S., had called the accusations “unsubstantiated” and expressed “deep disappointment” with the Vatican makeover.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met on Monday with LCWR leadership for the first time since Francis’ election on March 13. Mueller emphasized that the LCWR remains “under the direction of the Holy See,” and that their task is to promote “cooperation” with local bishops and bishops’ conferences.
LCWR leaders called the meeting “open and frank" in a statement issued Monday. "We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church."