The Vatican is officially cracking down on the largest umbrella group for U.S. nuns and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican orthodoxy watchdog, started by reprimanding officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for planning to honor a theologian who had been criticized by U.S. bishops.
The Vatican has stated that since the group only hold status if the Vatican approves it, it must follow rules and act in a way that the Vatican says is appropriate. If the U.S. bishops do not approve of theologians, than the nuns are not permitted to honor them.
"The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life," Mueller said, during a speech. "We are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration."
The Vatican has insisted that it does not want to be harsh with the group or try to control it, but only wants them to work with the Vatican. Mueller even apologized for being to blunt with his speech but said that he needed to get a clear message across to the nuns.
The LCWR met with Mueller and said that the meeting was respectful and engaging, but still do not agree with the investigation that led to the decision to reform the group.
In 2012, an investigation determined that the nuns were doing amazing humanitarian work but were too focused on social issues and less so on other things the Vatican feels are more important such as fighting abortion.
The LCWR is planning to give its outstanding leadership award to Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a theologian and author of Quest for the Living God. The Vatican does not agree with some of the ideas in Johnson’s book and Mueller called the LCWR leadership award recipient choice "a rather open provocation."
The award will be given out in August but the LCWR will be required to submit plans for future awards and major meetings ahead of time to Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who is in charge of the reform.
Do you think the Vatican is being fair to the nuns or are they just trying to control the group?
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