Vatican Orders Crackdown on US Nuns, Citing 'Radical Feminist Themes'

The Vatican in Rome has ordered a serious review of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the largest group of Catholic nuns in the United States. In a statement, the Vatican said the group has "serious doctrinal problems."

A statement given by the Vatican explained its strong crackdown on the LCWR. The Vatican believes that the LCWR challenges the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality and promotes "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."

"Some commentaries on 'patriarchy' distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the church," authors of the investigative committee wrote. The LCWR has remained "silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States."

In one example, several members of the LCWR signed a statement supporting President Obama's overhaul of healthcare, which the Catholic Church adamantly opposed. The behavior has now been seen as contradictory to core Catholic teachings and as undermining the Vatican, and disciplinary measures are now expected to be taken.

"I'm stunned," Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded with other sisters, told the New York Times.

"I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad. We haven't violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics," she explained.

The LCWR's website explains that it "is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States." It has more than 1,500 members representing the 57,000 Catholic women in the U.S. LCWR has been active since 1956 and works "for a more just and peaceful world."

"LCWR provides opportunities for addressing issues of concern with a corporate voice by taking action on resolutions approved at the national assembly," the LCWR site states.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle will lead the investigation and reformation of the LCWR with the help of Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and Bishop Leonard Blair. They will have up to five years to investigate and reform the group's statements, speakers and actions.