An "open" and "cordial" meeting was held this past weekend by three U.S. Catholic bishops and the Catholic sisters whom the Vatican has called "radical" and "feminist" for their support of same-sex marriage and abortion.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) officers met with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Springfield, Ill., Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Toledo, Ohio, Bishop Leonard Blair, all members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Annmarie Sanders, Director for Communications for the LCWR, shared with The Christian Post the full statement from the group, which was said to address the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Sanders noted that further discussions were planned for a later date, although the specific issues that might have been brought up with were not revealed.
In April, the largest organization of Roman Catholic nuns in the U.S. was hit by a Vatican-ordered crackdown that described the LCWR as being "too radical" for pushing "feminist themes" in its ministry. The LSWR, founded in 1956, boasts more than 1,500 nuns and sisters, who work in social services, parish ministries, education, health care and religious education.
The organization has gone against official Roman Catholic Church doctrine by endorsing same-sex marriage and defending pro-choice as well as pro-euthanasia positions.
"Issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, 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," the assessment by the Vatican read.
Specifically, the report accused the nuns of being silent and not doing enough to stand behind the U.S. bishops in the debate on abortion and euthanasia in the U.S. It was launched as long ago as April 2008 and entrusted to Cardinal William Levada. The report on his findings read:
"The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink's address about some Religious 'moving beyond the Church' or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life.
"Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity."
Sunday's meeting was the first time the LSWR's leaders met with members of the USCCB for an official discussion on the doctrinal assessment. What if any changes the sisters will decide to make to their approach to theology remains to be seen.