WASHINGTON — The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said June 1 it feels the assessment that led to a Vatican order to reform the organization "was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency."
The LCWR board called the sanctions "disproportionate to the concerns raised" and said they "could compromise" the organization's ability "to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community and created greater polarization," the LCWR said in a statement released the morning after the board concluded a special meeting in Washington May 29-31, held to respond to an eight-page doctrinal assessment issued to LCWR by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Citing "serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life," the doctrinal congregation April 18 announced a major reform of LCWR to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality.
In response to the LCWR statement, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, appointed by the Vatican to oversee the reform, said both he and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "are wholeheartedly committed to dealing with the important issues raised by the doctrinal assessment and the LCWR board in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, integrity and fidelity to the church's faith."
The LCWR board said the organization's president, Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, and its executive director, Sister Janet Mock, a Sister of St. Joseph, will return to Rome June 12 to meet U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Sartain "to raise and discuss the board's concerns."
Earlier in Melbourne, Florida, at the convention of the Orlando Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, the president of the National Council of Catholic Women said she sees "a reawakening of women now that they're seeing how much our church needs us," especially with regard to efforts to protect religious freedom. Women are "stepping forward and speaking about our values."
Unfortunately, for so long women thought they should not be speaking on these issues," said Judy Powers. "For Catholic women, we would prefer to speak for something — for life, for our values, for marriage, as opposed to speaking against. We prefer to be a force for God's love," she added.
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