LCWR president says Vatican inquiry raises questions of conscience
Conflict between the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the reform of LCWR boils down to whether one can “be a Catholic and have a questioning mind,” the conference’s president said in an interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program.
Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell also told “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross in the July 17 interview that she would like to see discussion about whether “freedom of conscience in the church (is) genuinely honored.”
“One of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam of this position we’re in, if we can make any headway in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders, together with rank-and-file Catholics, can raise questions openly and search for truth freely with very complex and swiftly changing issues that we face in our day,” she said.
“That would be our hope,” she added. “But the climate is not there.”
Sister Farrell was discussing the Vatican-ordered doctrinal assessment of LCWR, which has about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women’s religious communities as members and represents about 80 percent of the country’s 57,000 women religious. Its canonical status is granted by the Vatican.
The assessment said reform was needed to ensure LCWR’s fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas that include abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle was named in April to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of the organization, with the assistance of Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. [More]