Most countries have an organization to support their vowed women religious. In the United States, we uniquely have two. There is the older (1956), Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR) and the newer, smaller Council of Majors Superiors of Women Religious. The later was established in 1992 in direct response to the former evolving further and further away from the faith.
Note that the LCWR expresses the viewpoints of the *leadership* of its membership and not necessarily individual women religious. At that level, things are mixed. Also, it must be noted that the organizations “represented” by the LCWR do some very good (and not so good) work. The question is: are they Catholic? This matters because the Church does not exist to be just another social services agency, but to lead as many souls as possible to heaven. When one claims to be Catholic, but professes beliefs directly contrary to the faith, the level of scandal is quite serious. This is compounded when they have canonical status granted by the pope.
Such is the case with the LCWR. There is a long litany of issues including much support for new age beliefs, “moving beyond Jesus” (I am not making that up), some support abortion (even shepherding women *into* abortuaries) and so on. The Vatican has noticed and action begun under Benedict, continued under Francis, to salvage them and return them to the Church. It may be too late, as their members are dying out and not being replaced. This is in stark contrast BTW to the faithful orders.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently addressed them. His remarks were charitable but direct, if not unusual as the LCWR has been treated with kid-gloves for so very long. His remarks are online HERE. They are not long and can be read quickly.
Naturally, the LCWR has not embraced this. They have previously taken their case to every liberal outlet (e.g. 60 Minutes, NPR, etc.) and presented themselves as unjustly bullied and harassed by meanie men in the Vatican. FWIW, IMHO, the truth is they are spoiled children who for far too long have failed to be disciplined.
Professor Anthony Esolen wrote a wonderful piece for The Catholic Thing to capture the essence (not a literal transcript) of the LCWR’s response.
CDF: “Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, begotten and not made, the second Person of the Holy Trinity?”
LCWR: “Why are you asking us that question? What gives you the authority to ask it?”
CDF: “Again, Sisters, do you believe and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, incarnate by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary?”
LCWR: “You have no right to pick on us simply because we’re women. You arrogant misogynists! We believe that hierarchical structures must be dismantled!?”
CDF: “Sisters, you seem to argue that you are “beyond Jesus.” Do you in fact believe that man may be saved in the name of Jesus alone? That Christ alone reveals the Father to man, and man to himself?”
LCWR: “Why are you using sexist language? We are offended by your pronouns.”
CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father?”
LCWR: “We have advanced degrees in theology. We have received awards from our friends – we mean, from prestigious theological societies. Why are you suggesting that we are incompetent? Is it because we’re women?”
CDF: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, yes or no?”
LCWR: “Where were you when bishops were hiding pedophiles? Why are you picking on us all of a sudden? Is it to distract people from your incompetence?”
CDF: “Sisters, the question is fundamental. At every Mass we affirm that Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the sole savior of man – of the human race. Do you believe this or not?”
LCWR: “We don’t like your attitude! Why are you shouting? What is this really all about?”
CDF: “All right, let’s move to something else. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings regarding marriage, sexual relations, the family, and the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death?”
LCWR: “Why are you ignoring the work we do with the poor?”
CDF: “Work with the poor is not at issue. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”
LCWR: “Too many people forget that the Church has many teachings regarding the poor!?”
CDF: “Those are not in question. Do you affirm the Church’s prohibitions against contraception, abortion, sodomy, and divorce?”
LCWR: “Why do you assume that we speak with one voice?”
CDF: “We assume no such thing. We want to know whether you affirm the Church’s teachings.””
LCWR: “The Church needs women in positions of leadership.””
CDF: “As to that, the question is whether you or other women should be leading this organization. Do you affirm the Church’s teachings?”
LCWR: “Which teachings?”
CDF: “Do you affirm the Church’s teachings on the broad range of sexual issues?”
LCWR: “We are distressed that women’s voices have not been heard!?”
It goes on, but you get the idea. Read the whole article at The Catholic Thing: Stamp Your Feet!. Professor Esolen and readers have good additional comments.
For just a sample of the shenanigans of the LCWR, see Father John Zuhlsdorf’s Nuns Gone Wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane. Father also comments on an independent study of a LCWR group in A study of the Sinsinawa Dominicans (hint: LCWR). Read and weep..