Vatican City — The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has described talks with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as open and cordial.
“The meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality,” said a statement issued by the Vatican press office June 12.
In April 2012 the Vatican called for a reform of the body after a four-year audit or “doctrinal assessment,” which concluded there was a “crisis” of belief throughout its ranks.
On June 12, Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell and St. Joseph Sister Janet Mock, who are respectively the president and executive director of the conference, went to the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and met with officials there for approximately 90 minutes.
They discussed matters with Cardinal William Levada, the congregation’s prefect, and Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle. He has been charged by the Vatican with leading the renewal of the LCWR.
“We are grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue and now we will return to our members to see about next steps, and that is all we have to say,” Sister Pat told CNA upon leaving the meeting. They said they will now take the matter to their annual assembly in St. Louis this coming August.
The LCWR posted a statement on its website today.
Earlier this month the group, whose leaders represent approximately 80% of women religious in the U.S., described the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment as “based on unsubstantiated accusations” and “a flawed process that lacked transparency.”
In their statement today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminded journalists that the religious conference “is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See” according to canon law.
They also explained that the purpose of the doctrinal assessment had been to “assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ” and also on “the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.”
The assessment had found serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the LCWR’s annual assemblies in recent years, with many showing “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.”
Concern has also been expressed at the conference’s choice of new-age author Barbara Marx Hubbard as the keynote speaker for the annual assembly this August. A non-Catholic, Hubbard advocates a worldview entitled “conscious evolution.”
Her talk to the assembly is billed as helping religious communities become “open to the new levels of consciousness, even as that revelation exceeds the boundaries of present day understanding of one’s faith.”