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Discipline of American Nuns

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CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2012 / 01:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican called for reform amid a doctrinal "crisis" within the U.S.'s Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), appointing Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead renewal efforts.

……. it voiced concerns about "certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" that were prevalent in some programs and presentations sponsored by the conference, and risked distorting Church teaching on the divinity of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the Eucharist and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

The assessment observed that letters from LCWR officers have suggested dissent from Church teaching on human sexuality and protested the Holy See's actions on women's ordination and ministry to homosexual persons.

It also said that while the women's religious group has been a strong advocate of social justice issues, it has remained silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a prominent topic in the U.S. public debate surrounding abortion and euthanasia.

HUF POST 4/20/12 By Stephanie Simon
  • Vatican aims to rein in conference of Catholic nuns
  • Differences over ordination of women, ministry to gays
  • Some U.S. nuns have long challenged Catholic doctrine
'SECULAR FEMINISM'

"The attitudes and values of secular feminism had entered into their mindset" and created an "unhealthy" movement, said Russell Shaw, a church historian, author and former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But the nuns were not inclined to back down.
Sister Joan Chittister, a former president of the nuns' leadership conference, said the nuns saw themselves as helping, not hurting, the church. Their difficult questions must be asked, she said, if the church is to remain vibrant, relevant and respected. "When you begin to suppress that, it's immoral," Chittister said. "It's a mistake for the church. And it's despair for its people."……………… The nuns' Leadership Conference has not yet decided how to respond to the Vatican's rebuke. But some Catholic scholars suggest that the issue will soon be moot.

The generation of nuns that struck out so brazenly in the early 1970s is aging. There are more nuns over age 90 than there are under age 60, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

In 1975, the United States had more than 135,000 nuns. Now, there are fewer than 60,000.

Priest: Tweet if you love nuns, as sisters face critique

4/16/12 By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

The Rev. James Martin, culture editor for America magazine, wrote an ode to the sisters and launched the hashtag to rally praise for them after the major group of women religious (their proper title although nuns and sisters fit headlines and Twitter counts better) now that some are under fire.

The Vatican wants the powerful women's voices to stress the Catholic vision for marriage and sexuality and to spend more time campaigning against abortion,gay marriage and women's ordination.

Subtext: Stop contradicting the bishops on public policy issues such as President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Reuter's coverage spotted it in the Vatican report last week which...
found that the nuns promoted political views at odds with those expressed by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, "who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."

You may remember 2010 when the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella group representing 55,000 sister and nuns, determined that the Obama proposal did not provide funding for abortion and came out in support of its passage. Bishops were outraged.
Now the Vatican has cracked down on the LCWR. According to Religion News Service's David Gibson last week,

  • One of the groups singled out in the criticism is Network, a social justice lobby created by Catholic sisters 40 years ago that continues to play a leading role in pushing progressive causes on Capitol Hill.
  • 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."
  • ... Increasingly, however, the hierarchy in Rome and the U.S. is focusing on promoting doctrinal orthodoxy and curbing dissent.

Internal Catholic church discipline is not a topic up for public polling.