The Vatican is unhappy with some of the nuns in the United States. It seems they are taking some liberties with teaching and behavior that the powers-that-be in Rome are not too thrilled about.
This isn't new news, per se. Under the papacy of Pope Benedict, a group of U.S. nuns were put on notice that they had to change their ways or risk having their group disbanded by the Church.
What is surprising to some is that this opinion is continued under the watch of Pope Francis, a pontiff that many see as willing to bend a bit on some matters that the Church had always been strident about.
The group in question is called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR. Back in 1979, the group asked then-Pope John Paul II to entertain the idea of ordaining women as priests. The Church rejected the idea categorically, scolded the women for even asking, and told them not to bring it up again.
But the U.S. nuns have continued to explore aspects of their faith and devotional activities that make the leadership of the Church nervous. For example, there was talk in one of their conferences about "going beyond Christ" in their worship.
So Benedict initiated an "Assessment", which may be thought of as a probationary period or "improvement plan". In 2012 Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was tasked with overseeing changes in the LCWR to conform more closely to "the teachings and discipline of the Church."
The women were taken aback by the severity of the situation, and issued a statement:
"The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusion of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We had received a letter from the CDF prefect in early March informing us that we would hear the results of the doctrinal assessment at our annual meeting; however, we were taken by surprise by the gravity of the mandate."
Now, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, has recently addressed the LCWR leadership on the Church's disappointment with their progress in implementing the terms of this Assessment.
"The Assessment is concerned with positive errors of doctrine seen in the light of the LCWR's responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life," Mueller told the group.
Mueller reminded the nuns that their group is only allowed to exist by the leave of the Church, and that they are expected to get in line.
"We are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration," Mueller hinted.
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