Pope Francis Reaffirms Vatican’s Call For Reform Of U.S. Nuns’ Group

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    Pope Francis Holds His Weekly Audience

    Pope Francis reaffirmed the Vatican’s call for reform of the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

    Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the U.S.-based nuns’ group that he had “recently discussed the doctrinal assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform for this conference of major superiors.”

    The doctrinal congregation met April 15 with the LCWR leadership and Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who had been assigned by the Vatican to oversee the reform of the pontifically recognized leadership group.

    LCWR, in a statement on its website, said its representatives included Franciscan Sister Florence Deacon, president; Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, president-elect; and Sister Janet Mock, a Sister of St. Joseph and the organization’s executive director.

    LCWR is a Maryland-based umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women’s communities as members, representing about 80 percent of the country’s 57,000 women religious.

    The organization said in its statement that “the conversation was open and frank.”

    “We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the church,” it said without further elaboration.

    Last April, the doctrinal congregation issued an assessment of LCWR, citing “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life.” The assessment called for the organization’s reform to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. LCWR’s canonical status is granted by the Vatican.

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    During the April 15 meeting at the Vatican, Archbishop Muller said the group, like any conference of major superiors, “exists in order to promote common efforts among its member institutes as well as cooperation with the local conference of bishops and with individual bishops.”

    “For this reason, such conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See,” said the written statement released by the doctrinal congregation.

    “It is the sincere desire of the Holy See that this meeting may help to promote the integral witness of women religious, based on a firm foundation of faith and Christian love, so as to preserve and strengthen it for the enrichment of the church and society for generations to come,” the statement said.

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