The National Catholic Review

In a Current Comment this week America's editors asked some questions about the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's (CDF) "Doctrinal Assessment" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).  "First, there is the history of the assessment. Catholics in the United States and elsewhere are curious about where it came from. How did it originate? Who were the petitioners?"  Now Robert Mickens, the Rome correspondent for The (London) Tablet focuses on this question in the Tablet's latest issue, in an article entitled "Rome's Three-Line Whip."  He begins as far back as the 1980s, but the story picks up in the 1990s, as Mickens reports.

By the late 1990s, they [conservative bishops in the US, according to Mickens] began taking their complaints about the sisters to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. The CDF, under the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, even issued a doctrinal warning against the organisation in 2001, though the last remnant of a more conciliar group of US bishops was able to stave off any direct Vatican intervention.

The saga entered a new phase in 2005 when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. He quickly appointed the then Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco to his old post as CDF prefect. Significantly, the soon-to-be Cardinal Levada was also chairman of the doctrinal committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). According to sources in Rome and Washington, his successor at the conference’s doctrinal office –the then Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut – was the man who formally petitioned the CDF to launch the current doctrinal investigation of the LCWR. Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston in 2002 because of his perceived mishandling of the clerical sex-abuse crisis, was reportedly the person in Rome most forcefully supporting Bishop Lori’s proposal.

Both Cardinal Law and Archbishop Lori (he was appointed to the prestigious see of Baltimore in March) have long supported women’s religious orders that have distanced themselves from the LCWR. Cardinal Law, 80, staffs his residence in Rome with the Mercy Sisters of Alma (Michigan) and Archbishop Lori, 61, helped set up several traditional communities of sisters during his tenure in Bridgeport (2001-12). All these communities, marked by their loyalty to the hierarchy, belong to the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), which broke away from the LCWR in 1992.

Incidentally, Cardinal Law was a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious when it launched its own visitation – separate from the CDF investigation – of women’s communities in the US. According to news reports, that project was at least partially funded by the Knights of Columbus, a wealthy fraternal order of Catholic men for whom Archbishop Lori has been supreme chaplain since 2005. Under the leadership of an influential Washington lawyer and former Reagan White House official, Carl Anderson, the knights have increasingly backed conservative causes and routinely make sizeable donations to the Holy See. Mr Anderson is a member or consultor of several Vatican offices, and one of the five-man board of directors for the so-called Vatican Bank. His close association with the Vatican and Archbishop Lori, and the archbishop’s own determination to bring the LCWR into line, should not be underestimated.

After appointing Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo (Ohio) to conduct the initial phase of the controversial investigation of the Leadership Conference, the CDF has now asked Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead phase two. He heads a three-man team (which includes Blair) to reform the organization or, in the CDF’s sanitised words, “to implement a process of review and conformity to the teachings and discipline of the Church”.  --

Comments

Carol Pepi | 5/9/2012 - 10:20am
The Cardinals Law and Lori and the Pope will soon not have much work to do. No intelligent, faith-filled woman in the service of God and the People will continue to bow to the dictates of misogynist clergy seeking only to protect their own power.  They could learn much about living the Gospel from the women they seek to oppress and silence. The old ways are gone.  The New Way will replace power with service. Duplicity with truth.  The times they are a changin'.
Carol Pepi | 5/9/2012 - 10:05am
The Cardinals Law and Lori and the Pope will soon not have much work to do. No intelligent, faith-filled woman in the service of God and the People will continue to bow to the dictates of misogynist clergy seeking only to protect their own power.  They could learn much about living the Gospel from the women they seek to oppress and silence. The old ways are gone.  The New Way will replace power with service. Duplicity with truth.  The times they are a changin'.
Tim O'Leary | 5/7/2012 - 11:29pm
Amy #34
Regarding Hubbard, of course, it is fine for sisters to read anything they want, on their own time, such as Dianetics or anything from Carl Sagan or Deepak Chopra. But, what is the mission of the LCWR? Surely, it is not to explore fringe and kooky ideas that are implicitly or explicitly anti-Catholic? It is certainly not helping vocations, with their precipitous drop in the last 40 years. Maybe, they should look for advice to their sister organization, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), which although representing only 20% of the women religious today, accounts for the vast majority of new vocations.

Rick #35
I have not bought or read the works of Sr. Schneiders and am still looking further for her opinions on the internet, given the quote I found. Maybe Amy is right and she, like St. Thomas, raises these heterodox ideas just to swat them down. But, given the multi-year investigation by the CDF, and the report itself, I strongly doubt that is the case.

Any Catholic who reads the 8-page report with an open mind should at least question the focus of the LCWR. For example, they mention the talk from Sr. Laurie Brink (moving beyond the Church or beyond Jesus); protests on Church teaching on women priests and homosexuality, “placing themselves outside the Church”, and certain “radical feminist themes” that “risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father…or even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”

While I am still wading through some of the past documents, in the 2010 LCWR Presidential Address, by Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, I read this on page 2 “Like a certain nameless pastor who declared that authority in the church “doesn’t rely on a formal imposition of hands, but rather a divine imperative from the heart”, we can say also that hope is an imperative of the heart.” What about apostolic succession and the sacrament of holy orders? I agree with you that no single quote alone tells the whole story. I suppose that is why the investigation took several years. Again, I hope the reform will bear fruit.
Rick Fueyo | 5/7/2012 - 10:06am
Mr O’Leary,
 
Your post seems focused on trying to create outrage, and justify the CDF’s actions. 
 
With respect to the suggestion that  Sr. Schneider is heterodox based upon what you present is an excerpt from her book. Unless you have read the book, and can safely represents its complete context, then I'm not sure much is to be gained.   Using an excerpt to illustrate the whole, synecdoche reasoning, can be disingenuous.  And my experience with those that seek to police orthodoxy is that they tend to be incredibly dishonest in selecting such matters.  And they have a Pharisaic mindset.
 
When I google Sr. Schneider, I've located this interview from 2009 - http://ncronline.org/news/women/weve-given-birth-new-form-religious-life
 
Some selected excerpts:
 
But I think if we believe in what we are doing (and I definitely do) we just have to be peacefully about our business, which is announcing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, fostering the Reign of God in this world.
We are as different from "apostolic Religious Congregations” [such as those represented by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, or CMSWR] (of whom the Vatican is much more approving) as the mendicants were from the Benedictine monks. The big difference is that they Perfectae Caritatis and did what it asked: deepened their spirituality (I hope), and did some updating - shorter habits, a more flexible schedule, dropping customs that were merely weird, etc. We read Perfectae Caritatis through the lenses of Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium and we were called out of the monastic/apostolic mode and into the world that Gaudium et Spes declared the Church was embracing after centuries of world rejection.
 
 
Reading the totality of her interviews that I could find through Google, I cannot find the cause of condemnation as self-evident as you do
 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 5/7/2012 - 9:51am
I am on record saying I think the Marx woman sounds like a Grade A kook, but I don't see the problem with LCWR inviting her to speak. Her shtick kind of reminds me of Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human," which is quite a good book. Does anybody think nuns should be prohibited from reading science fiction? People can learn from kooky ideas. Hearing kooky ideas can be good for your imagination and critical thinking powers.

I am also unconvinced by the rather contrived meme that the investigation of LCWR was undertaken when the Vatican got frantic calls from some poor, devout, "simple faithful" sisters who were scandalized by something they heard at an LCWR conference. I suspect any major superior who thinks she would be scandalized by kookiness can easily find a reason to send a proxy. Any major superior who chooses to attend probably has a pretty clear idea what she's getting herself into.

It also seems very probable that Sister Schneiders' book does not contain anything theologically objectionable from the preposterous distortions the radical masculinists find it necessary to sink to in their efforts to smear her. She did not assert, of course, that there is no God the Father or that Christ is only a savior for men. She is merely summarizing some questions that have arisen in academic literature.  Like, duh, when Aquinas lists all the objections to each thesis in order to refute them.
Tim O'Leary | 5/6/2012 - 11:40pm
In trying to understand why the CDF thought some doctrinal reform was warranted for the LCWR, it might help to look at some of their conference materials to see who was invited to speak and what they said from the podium that might have upset some sisters in the audience. For a very up-to-date example, you can find information on this year’s “LCWR Assembly” to be held in August in St. Louis. The LCWR’s website has already announced the theme, Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now, and the Keynote Speaker will be non-Catholic Barbara Marx Hubbard. They have also announced that they will be honoring Sr. Sandra Schneiders with this year’s “Outstanding Leadership Award.”

Here is a quote from Ms. Hubbard’s own website: “It has become obvious that a creative minority of humanity is undergoing a profound inner mutation or transformation. Evolutionary ideas are not only serving to make sense of this change, but also acting to catalyze the potential within us to transform. (Thought creates; specific thought creates specifically)... All great spiritual paths lead us to this threshold of our own consciousness, but none can guide us across the great divide — from the creature human to the co-creative human. None can guide us in managing the vast new powers given us by science and technology. None of us have been there yet.” You can also buy a 12-week course on “The Agents of Conscious Evolution (ACE).” Doesn’t this sound like her namesake, L. Ron Hubbard’s scientology? And the top of her ‘recommended reading list’ is Deepak Chopra!

Also from Sister Schneiders' book Beyond Patching: Faith and Feminism in the Catholic Church. ''Since 1978, women have come to realize that we are not talking about how to organize the institution. We are talking about whether the God of Judeo-Christian revelation is true God or just men-writ-large to legitimate their domination; whether Jesus, an historical male, is or can be messiah and saviour for those who are not male; whether what the church has called sacraments are really encounters with Christ, or tools of male ritual abuse of women; whether what we have called church is a community of salvation or simply a male power structure.” No God the Father? Jesus a Savior only for men? Sacraments as tools of abuse?

But the LCWR is supposed to advance the Catholic evangelical mission. Mendacity might be the right word for this subterfuge.
davanna cimino | 5/6/2012 - 5:10pm
I too, Phil Ewing, have noted the powerful odor of mendacity emanating from the environs of Rome. And it ain't holy smoke.

Sometimes I feel like I should high-tail it out of the church. And I read the recent column by Father Martin exhorting those of us who may be dissaffected to stay in. We are baptized Catholics, after all. I would go one further in an effort to give massive indigestion to the good old boys — I would like to call all the dissaffected Catholics back into the church. We need to raise some holy hell. Come on. It'll be fun! 

*Just a completely off topic note: Tennessee Williams was baptised into the Catholic church in Key West, Florida. 
Liam Richardson | 5/5/2012 - 9:41pm
Count me a skeptic on the idea that Cardinal Law has been influential under the current pope. Consider that the pope moved very quickly once Law turned 80 last fall to unceremoniously push him out of his sinecure - it was only 18 days after his birthday when his successor was announced without any reference of regard to Cdl Law; of course, if the pope had wanted to be even more muscular and completely disregard the obvious brutta figura, he could have done so sooner, but he did so as soon as could be done without offending Curial sensibilities. 
Tim O'Leary | 5/5/2012 - 3:33pm
Sincere apologies for the redundant 2 postings just above but a key last line on paragraph one showed up in the preview but not in the final. Please ignore the first 2.
 
There is certainly a charade and distraction going on here, but it is how Cardinal Bernard Law has been dragged into this story by the Tablet (and now America), undoubtedly to discredit the investigation and to divert attention from the real basis behind the LCWR investigation. The post and CNS links from Sergio Leiseca(#8) give more hard news than the Tablet did, so much for their sleuth reporting. It is not hard to see that sisters and nuns attending conferences organized by the LCWR would complain about some of the heterodoxy coming from the podium. But even the Tablet article connects the events more to Bishops Levada and Lori. All we get on Cardinal Law is that he has been a supporter of Bishop Lori and conservative nuns, and was involved in other investigations unrelated to this one, hardly a connection at all. But, at least on this site, almost all the negative comments are directed to Cardinal Law (mentioned 18 times in 30 comment posts!).  So, I guess the distraction worked like a charm.
 
In the prayer before the Sign of Peace as Mass, the Priest says “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.” Despite the sins, great and small, of clergy and laity, this investigation is more focused on preserving the faith. Let’s see how the reform goes. Peace be with you all.
Tim O'Leary | 5/5/2012 - 2:59pm
There is certainly a charade and distraction going on here, but it is how Cardinal Bernard Law has been dragged into this story by the Tablet (and now America), undoubtedly to discredit the investigation and to divert attention from the real basis behind the LCWR investigation. The post and CNS links from Sergio Leiseca(#8) give more hard news than the Tablet did, so much for their sleuth reporting. It is not hard to see that sisters and nuns attending conferences organized by the LCWR would complain about some of the heterodoxy coming from the podium. But even the Tablet article connects the events more to Bishops Levada and Lori. All we get on Cardinal Law is that he has been a supporter of Bishop Lori and conservative nuns, and was involved in other investigaitons unrelated to this one, hardly a connection at all. But, at least on this site, almost all the negative comments are directed to Cardinal Law (mentioned 18 times in
In the prayer before the Sign of Peace as Mass, the Priest says “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.” Despite the sins, great and small, of clergy and laity, this investigation is more focused on preserving the faith. Let’s see how the reform goes. Peace be with you all.
Craig McKee | 5/5/2012 - 11:11am
First CHILDREN, now WOMEN! I do hope these higher-archs are enjoying their EARTHLY domains while they last, for even Dante's CIRCLES of HELL will pale in comparision to what they have to answer for on the other side!

@12: plenty of staff are needed to wash all of that dirty laundry!
Philomena Ewing | 5/5/2012 - 11:02am
''There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity...You can smell it. It smells like death."
Jack Barry | 5/4/2012 - 9:18pm
John F.  - 
When Law and associates were exposed in Boston in 2002-3, the attitude of law enforcement, specifically the Mass. Attorney General, was anything but to give them a pass.  The diocesan paper The Pilot reported scathing comments of the AG, including “No one is more disappointed than I and my staff that we cannot bring criminal charges against top management.”  Apparently, he couldn't do it within the law at that time; I don't know if today would be different.   McCormack, Law's one-time deputy for handling sexual misconduct problems, retired honorably in the eyes of the Church last year in spite of his coverup role in Boston.    http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=1212   
 
john fitzmorris | 5/4/2012 - 7:45pm
Sad and pitiful is all I can say! It makes you wonder about what is going on in the minds of these men. This behavior is too reminiscent of the schemings of the Renaissance Papacy. 

From alaw enforcement point of view from where I came, Law was lucky that when the allegations about his behavior came to light there was still a feeling among prosecutors to give the heirarchy a pass. If it had been today in the present climate he may be sitting safely in Rome. This is the real issue in this horrible soul-chilling scandal. No one, not even a cardinal, bishop or other high ranking religious or secular figure should be above the law. I wonder if he would be so bold if he could be extradited
Gerelyn Hollingsworth | 5/4/2012 - 5:32pm

I'd like to remind participants that full and actual names are required, thanks.



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 Hard to believe ''Kathryn Benincasa'' is the poster's real name.  (And hard to believe Tania is really a religious.  Spelling is one clue.)


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JOHN SULLIVAN | 5/4/2012 - 2:21pm
#22  Dolan once again demonstrates the he is the qiuntessential organization man. I am sure that the Vatican started their "investigation" becuase some sisters were concerned. Is he serious? What is certain is that his guile has no bounds. For heaven's sake say nothing rather than utter such unaduterated nonsense. More ironic is the fact that he's been charged with assisting the Irish Church to get their house in order! Archbishop Martin is the one to be doing that for the Irish Church, instead he's a pariah.
john ryan | 5/4/2012 - 1:57pm
This crackdown on the sisters is only part of the story. Currently in Ireland 5 priests have been silenced due to their public criticism of the handling of the child abuse scandal (primarily) as well as other issues.Fathers D Arcy,Flannery,Maloney,Fagin and O Sullivan have been told to shut up (my term) The Irish 800 member Assoc. of Priests has issued a public statement reproving the Vatican for its stance. These moves are not going down well with the Irish people who have stopped attending Mass in droves in the past 10 years or so.The Taoiseachs (Irish Prime Minister) recent speech in the Dail (Irish Congress) publically castigated the Vatican for ongoing failure in handling of the abuse scandal. The Irish Government recently announced its closing of its embassy in the Vatican State due to ''budget reasons'' The Irish Justice Minister announced in April that if Catholic Priests did not inform authorities of child abuse they became aware of they will be prosecuted even if the knowledge is given within the confessional. There was a day in Ireland when the faintist criticism of the Church brought both official and your friends/neighbors disapproval. The Church has itself to thank for the situation in Ireland but evidently does not heed the lesson from Ireland and elsewhere. This crackdown on the Sisters will return to bite them in the butt. I confess to one moment I want to cry and the next moment to cheer. Do you suppose its all part of HIS plan? 
Helen Mc Devitt-Smith | 5/4/2012 - 1:56pm
Tania:

Cardinal Dolan was interviewed by Chris Jansing on MSNBC and he said:
“Keep in mind, too, Chris, that some of the people that were worried about some of the stances of the LCWR were women religious who have been writing to the Vatican saying:  ‘We are a little worried about the drift of this organization.’”
I am assuming that the vast majority of women religious who wrote to the Vatican about the LCWR were members of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), who seem to be more compatible with the USCCB and Vatican. (They wear habits.)
Mother Mary Clare Millea, who was charged by the Vatican with directing a three-year study of U.S. women religious congregations, is superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also has membership in CMSWR.
 Archbishop Sartain’s sister is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominican), a traditional order that has membership in the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR).
Michael Casey | 5/4/2012 - 10:55am
Wait a minute...Bernard Law is not in prison?? How is that morally or legally possible? And he's still making decision about the Church, judging the devotion or morality of other people? Not just reprehensible,  but truly unbelievable.
    Crime and sin of this magnitude can only continue with BIG money behind it, enough money to silence critics and media outlets, enough money to tempt princes of the Church to support and defend monsters like Law so they can keep their plump, cushy lifestyles rolling along.
    Given this level of moral vacancy, it makes sense now why these Vatican executives might go after people like the nuns, who not only don't support extravagent lifestyles and sinecures for monsters, but who might, in ernest piety, expose the depravity of their superiors. Going after the whistle-blowers is a time-honored tradition that Law and his crew, perhaps incuding Pope Benedict, have finally resorted to.  Very sad.
    I just hope nobody is fooled by this charade. Now I'm going to go wash my hands. This story made me feel sick and grimy.
Tania Santander Atauchi | 5/4/2012 - 10:12am
This is just an speculation.  Who Was Behind the LCWR Investigation? The real origin lies not in the hierarchy's doings or not doings. The hierarchy's intervention came after a large number of women religions asked for it.  BUT... Like any divine plan, the issue that ignited the visitation (that is, by the way, a custom that most bishops and religious superiors still practice to guarantee the faithfulness and fluorishing of their communities) will not be known, unless we expand our vision.
Bill Mazzella | 5/3/2012 - 10:03pm
Now we add intrigue and deception to a CDF which prefers dogma over the gospel and subjugation to Rome as more important than fidelity to Christ. By clearly choosing the reputation of bishops to the care of victims, the hierarchy has shown that it is the church of the powerful and rich rather than the poor and downtrodden. The group in Rome and the bishops of America become more ugly daily. Many are saying that many bishops do not agree with these ingquisition type actions. That is not good enough. A false unity is not more important than charity and the gospel. These bishops of conscience should act accordingly.
Crystal Watson | 5/3/2012 - 6:32pm
There's also a post at dotCommonweal on this too (http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=18788) and it mentions another guy involved - Cardinal Franc Rodé (he of the unbelievable vestments - http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/cardinal-rod%C3%A9-photos-meditation).  Ugh.
ed gleason | 5/3/2012 - 6:27pm
Law has three nun house keepers reportably from Mexico. Cook, cleaner, laundry is my guess.  None are radical 'feminists'. Italian women/nuns of course, would not be suitable as they tend to make too many  hand gestures.  
Michael Schlacter | 5/3/2012 - 6:25pm
Mercy...I guess the anger or frustration expressed is about leadership, not the faith or teachings of the Church.  This is a true blessing.  The true journey is to God, not to Rome.

 
JIM MCCREA | 5/3/2012 - 5:08pm
Matt:  do you actually think that an 80 year old man who has been pampered all of his clerical life would actually DO something for himself? 
JIM MCCREA | 5/3/2012 - 5:07pm
Further to Carolyn @ #5:  Robert Mickens is the reporter that John Allen thinks HE is.
Matthew Pettigrew | 5/3/2012 - 4:36pm
"Cardinal Law, 80, staffs his residence in Rome with the Mercy Sisters of Alma (Michigan)"

It's a bit off-topic, but how much of a staff does a disgraced 80 year old Cardinal need?
David Pasinski | 5/3/2012 - 4:36pm
While i am mixing columns, I am struck by this post compared to the last one by Fr. Martin.
 In that post, he gave a meditation for "staying 'in' the church." In this post, he gives another reason for not doing so.

This type of behavior is not "church." I know well tthe ecclesiology of semper reformanda and the "pilgrim church' and the "soiled but yet beloved Bride of Christ," but there may be times...

 This kind of clerical malevolence (chosen word) -  while not approaching that of the Middle Ages - has a sickening effect even for us baby boomers who hand on by fingernails thanks to the Eucharist and/or our own good pastors or parishes - like oases in the desert - but the lack of nurture is parching us daily and , one day, many of us will shrivel and blow away. No grat loss for all, perhsp, but still a pervasive dust bowl of what once was a fertile community.
Helen Mc Devitt-Smith | 5/3/2012 - 3:29pm
Permit me to add these points to the pot:

In 1979 Sister Theresa Kane R.S.M., past president of the LCWR, made her (in?)famous plea to Pope John Paul II to include women in ALL ministries of the church, including ordination, during his visit to the United States. At that time, Cardinal Levada, then Monsignor Levada, was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1976 to 1982).
Archbishop Sartain’s sister is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominican), a traditional order that has membership in the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR). (a “conflict of interest”?)
David Pasinski | 5/3/2012 - 1:53pm
I like Vince's analogy!
It seems like it is the two-fold dimension of this that has rightfully upset us - that the nuns are attacked when the vast majority have been the best examples of Christ's love andservice that the Church has produced AND the fact that it's the hierarchy that cannot police itself that is the agent of the attack and has just created the other brouhaha about contraception which ws in no one's mind!
.
Just today our secular newspaper issued a strong editorial echoing what sime of us had already sent letters on - a real departure though to bring up this topic on a secular level when they had barely covered the story except for Dowd's and Kristof's columns.

Let's see how  Philadelphia and Kansas City come out... I stiill believe this has been in part about good offense to distract all.  
Sergio Leiseca | 5/3/2012 - 1:51pm
It is a bit more complicated.  
good morning, I am reposting the comment I forwarded this morning to America.  It is helpful when seeking to find answers.  take care
good morning,
 
I could not agree more with you: we need to be calm and respectful.
 
The following information, published on 4/27/2012 by Catholic News Service (http://?www.catholicnews.com/data/?stories/cns/1201700.htm), answers most of the questions you raised. Your readers will find the information helpful
 
(1) How did it originate?: "1971: Some nuns who disapprove of LCWR's new directions create a new organization, the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis. They are concerned that what they consider necessary, distinctive elements of religious life - such as a common identifying garb, community life and religious obedience to a superior as traditionally understood - are disappearing among American sisters. In the early 1970s the consortium seeks recognition from Rome as an alternative conference to the LCWR".
 
(2) Who were the petitioners?: Perhaps, the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis and the Institute on Religious Life. "The Institute on Religious Life is established to promote vocations and religious life in the United States. The Chicago-based organization is open to laity, priests and men religious as well, but women religious - most of them linked with the consortium - make up the bulk of its membership".
(3) Was the U.S. bishops’ conference ever involved or consulted? When and how?: "1983: Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco is named by Pope John Paul to conduct a Vatican-mandated study of U.S. religious life. He transforms the study into a nationwide dialogue over the next three years. The study is completed in 1986 with a 152-page report to Rome". "1987: As a follow-up to the Quinn study, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the LCWR decide to reinforce strengthened bishop-religious relations on an ongoing basis with a new Tri-Conference Commission of Religious and NCCB. 1988: The Forum of Major Superiors, a new organization of women superiors formed in 1987 by the Institute on Religious Life, unsuccessfully petitions the bishops for a place on the commission".
(4) When and why and at whose request were Network and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes added to the inquiry?: I suspect in 1987.
take care and have a nice day.
 

CNS STORY: Timeline of Vatican relations with US women religious since 1950s
www.catholicnews.com
Tree Snively | 5/3/2012 - 1:49pm
An excellent summary.  My only thought is that ''perceived mishandling'' is a bit light when speaking of Bernard Law. You can find the actual documents on bishopsaccountability.org website.Those who suffered abuse in that diocese and even clergy whose lives were changed when they reported abuse (and suffered for their reporting) might feel real pain at hearing Law described that way.

 Of course, I understand the need to temper comments for Catholic journalism. I'm just pointing it out since many religious women were the first to support and respond to those who were hurt by the Church. Though it should be noted that some did NOT respond, and more hurt continued, it took great courage to stand up for the powerless,  since those who responded were treated as betraying the Church.


Jack Barry | 5/3/2012 - 1:30pm
Clarifying the roles of US bishops in what is widely being referred to as CDF action helps explain why the first of the two major needs identified by the Doctrinal Assessment (p. 7) is not the doctrinal purity of the LCWR.   Rather, it is ''that greater emphasis needs to be placed … on the relationship of the LCWR with the Conference of Bishops…''.   
 
An early step in this direction is taken in the Assessment Mandate for Implementation (p.8):   “In order to ensure the necessary liaison with the USCCB (in view of Can. 708), the Conference of Bishops will be asked to establish a formal link (e.g. a committee structure) with the Delegate and Assistant Delegate Bishops.”   Note that the USCCB link is not with the LCWR but with its 3 external overseers, who are already members of the USCCB.  Details remain to be seen.  
Carolyn Disco | 5/3/2012 - 1:28pm
Robert Mickens is the most astute reporter anywhere on the Vatican. He knows how to connect the dots.

Law, Lori, Ratzinger, Levada, Anderson - what a sterling group to take on the LCWR. I hope the women have a few surprises for them. The power dynamics are much in evidence.


John Barbieri | 5/3/2012 - 1:18pm
Cardinal Law!
Why isn't he in jail!
Somehow it's not surprising that he would be involved in this unsavory business!
Vince Killoran | 5/3/2012 - 1:16pm
So sad that those who have poisoned the well now appear as the water inspectors.

It's hard to discern the Holy Spirit in this sordid narrative. I pray that the LCWR continue to lead by example. 
JOHN SULLIVAN | 5/3/2012 - 1:04pm
This is becoming more sordid as this story unfolds.Bernard Law should be in prison instead of living the life of a prince. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. I hope and pray that he asks for forgiveness. I thank God every day for the example of the many sisters who were my teachers;their witness has sustained us.
Rick Fueyo | 5/3/2012 - 12:49pm
Thanks.  The role of Cardinal Law is. . .not sure how to articulate that.