Thursday, April 16, 2009

CDF launches investigation of the LCWR

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will conduct a doctrinal assessment on the activities and initiatives of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR). In a letter to the LCWR, the CDF prefect, Cardinal William Levada - formerly of San Francisco - noted an assessment was needed specifically in these areas:
  • Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) - Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter in which he reaffirms that the priesthood is reserved to males only.
  • Dominus Iesus (2000) - Declaration on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church
  • The Church's teaching on homosexuality

Cardinal Levada came to his decision while in communication with Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio - a native metro-Detroiter, and a member of the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine, will conduct the assessment. (N.B.: Our own Abp Allen Vigneron is also a member of the Committee on Doctrine)

For those who may not be familiar with the subject, there are two councils that I am aware of for women religious in the US (at least two with significant numbers). One is the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, which is the larger of the two (and shrinking rapidly with a high average age). The other is the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious which has fewer communities, but is seeing a steady increase and, in some of them, explosive growth. The LCWR has been around since 1956. The CMSWR is a canonically approved organization founded in 1992 whose members are committed to orthodoxy and follow a more traditional form of religious life (some moreso than others). One only needs to click around the two sites to see the difference (I almost missed it, but to see the site menu at CMSWR you need to put your cursor over the blue, vertical bar on the left that moves up and down as you scroll).

A younger generation is rejecting communities that have lost their way when it comes to Catholicism. This is evident by contrasting the average age, and the number of new candidates. New age practices have permeated some of them and they have abandoned the basics. Thankfully, the CDF has turned it's attention to this conference for the good of the Church.

For those of us who have followed their "activities and initiatives" online, this doctrinal assessment of the LCWR is long over due. On this point, I'm going recommend you read an entry by Jack Smith of the Catholic Key - the blog of Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph: Why the LCWR is being investigated.

Further reading:

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!


Sister Zelda said...

When I read "A younger generation is rejecting communities that have lost their way when it comes to Catholicism." I am curious about these congregations of religious women have lost their Catholicism. These strong words need to be tested by the lives of these religious women who live and work among the most marginalized men and women in our society. As Jesus embraced the lepers of his own day, these minister among those without hope or resources. Fairness in reporting suggests a bit of fact checking might help.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Sister Zelda,

The point of the comment is that there is a reason why certain kinds of communities are not gaining new members while others are.

It is not enough to work with the most marginalized people in society. One could work hard for 24-7 and still not win souls for Christ through their charitable works. It takes more than that.

We certainly show our love for God through love for "the least among us". However, we also show our love for God by loving the Church, accepting her teachings, and praying for understanding where we struggle with them (as opposed to challenging them). Graces to not only physically aid the "least among us" come not from our own hands, but from God. This means prayer, especially the Mass and adoration ought to be a part of our work with the poor.

Mother Teresa is a prime example of a woman who not only worked with the most marginalized people in society, but one who had a strong Catholic identity. Part of that Catholic identity was a strong relationship with Our Eucharistic Lord - namely, the Mass and adoration. Another part of that Catholic identity was Mother's devotion to Mary. She not only brought comfort to the dying through her love for Christ, she converted souls to the Lord.

When communities promote and encourage things that are foreign to our faith, there is little doubt in my mind that they will suffer a sort of natural extinction over time.