Board of the LCWR says Vatican assessment caused 'scandal and pain'

The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has said the assessment that led to a Vatican order to reform the organisation “was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency.”

“Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their [board members’] ability to fulfil their mission,” the board said in a statement. “The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the Church community and created greater polarisation.”

The board released the statement the morning after it concluded a special meeting in Washington on May 29-31 held to review and plan a response to the report issued to LCWR by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In April the doctrinal congregation had announced a major reform of LCWR to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. The congregation cited “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life”.

The Vatican appointed Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of LCWR.

LCWR’s board members raised concerns about both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared.

The board said in its statement, issued on June 1, that LCWR’s president Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell and its executive director Sister Janet Mock would return to Rome on June 12 to meet Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Sartain, “to raise and discuss the board’s concerns”.