The LCWR Doubles Down on Dissent | Ann Carey | CWR
Sister Nancy Schreck’s keynote address to the LCWR 2014 annual assembly was equally confused and defiant.
“We have been so changed that we are no longer at home in the culture and church in which we find ourselves.”
This quotation from the keynote address (PDF) of Franciscan Sister Nancy Schreck to the August 12-15 annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is startling, considering that it comes from a vowed member of a religious order who is speaking for other sisters. While Catholics should not feel at home in this modern culture, not feeling at home in the Catholic Church is indeed another matter.
Yet that quotation and many of the other statements in Sister Schreck’s keynote do help explain why the LCWR has resisted the reform that was ordered two-and-a-half years ago by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and reaffirmed in April 2013 by Pope Francis.
The 2014 LCWR assembly was particularly significant, because the group chose to bestow its annual Outstanding Leadership Award on Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson, whose book, Quest for the Living God was cited for doctrinal errors by the US bishops in 2011. And when LCWR leaders made their annual visit to the Vatican this past April, CDF Prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller told them the decision to honor Sister Johnson was “a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the ‘Doctrinal Assessment’” that “further alienates the LCWR from the [United States] bishops as well.”
Cardinal Müller reminded the LCWR leaders that the 2012 mandate included a requirement for the LCWR to clear speakers and honorees with the apostolic delegate charged with implementing the reform, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. The CDF prefect made clear that requirement must be followed subsequent to the August assembly. So LCWR members had some big decisions to make behind the closed doors of their executive sessions last week, and clues about what was discussed were found only in the public talks given at the assembly.
Rather than indicating any conciliation with the Holy See and the US bishops, the assembly keynote address by Sister Schreck, who was LCWR president in 1995, tried to explain why the LCWR was justified in taking the road it followed, implying that the Holy See had misjudged and misunderstood the LCWR.
Unfortunately, her reasoning was convoluted, confused, and unfounded in many respects...