Vatican, LCWR announce successful conclusion of process to reform group

| Cindy Wooden | April 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Vatican approved new statutes and bylaws for the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, ending a seven-year process of investigating the group and engaging in dialogue with its officers to ensure greater harmony with Church teaching.

Conference officers met April 16 with Pope Francis, the same day the Vatican announced the conclusion of the process, which included oversight for three years by a committee of three bishops.

“From the beginning, our extensive conversations were marked by a spirit of prayer, love for the Church, mutual respect and cooperation,” said a joint statement of the LCWR officers and the U.S. bishops appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to oversee the conference’s reform.

LCWR promised that materials it publishes first will be reviewed to “ensure theological accuracy and help avoid statements that are ambiguous with regard to Church doctrine or could be read as contrary to it.” In addition, programs sponsored by the conference and speakers chosen for its events will be expected to reflect Church teaching, the statement said.

In addition, it said, the doctrinal congregation, the bishops and LCWR officers had “clarifying and fruitful” conversations about “the importance of the celebration of the Eucharist; the place of the Liturgy of the Hours in religious communities; the centrality of a communal process of contemplative prayer practiced at LCWR assemblies and other gatherings; the relationship between LCWR and other organizations; and the essential understanding of LCWR as an instrument of ecclesial communion.”

The new statutes, the statement said, sought “greater clarity in expressing the mission and responsibilities” of the conference as a body “under the ultimate direction of the Apostolic See” and as a group “centered on Jesus Christ and faithful to the teachings of the Church.”

After asking Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, Conneticut, in 2008 to carry out the doctrinal assessment of LCWR, in April 2012 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called for the revision of LCWR’s statutes and bylaws. The reform, the Vatican said, was meant to ensure the conference’s fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. The organization’s canonical status is granted by the Vatican.

LCWR has more than 1,500 members, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.

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Category: Year of Consecrated Life