The Vatican has begun a full-scale crackdown on the group that represents the majority of the 55,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S., saying that the group wasn’t speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion, and women’s ordination.
Rome also scolded the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The Vatican’s disciplinary action against the LCWR was announced today, just one day before Pope Benedict XVI marked his seven year anniversary as pontiff.
Today’s announcement from the Vatican represents the sort of tough stance that many expected Benedict to take when he was elected back in 2005.
“The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises on religious congregations in other parts of the world,” said the statement issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The directive, which comes on the heels of a two-year probe by Rome, also comes as the Vatican seemed prepared to welcome a controversial right-wing splinter group of Catholic traditionalists back into the fold.
The CDF, now headed up by American Cardinal William Levada, appointed Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to oversee the process of overhauling LCWR’s governance and reviewing its plans and programs and its relationship with certain groups that the Vatican finds suspect.
The Vatican announcement said that “while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.”
It added that “crucial” matters such as “the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.”
Many bishops were angered when LCWR, along with the Catholic Health Association, endorsed President Barack Obama’s health care reform over the bishops’ objections.