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At the IRL National Meeting banquet, held on April 6, 2013, Mother Mary Clare Millea, ASCJ, received the Pro Fidelitate et Virtute award from the IRL in recognition of her extraordinary fidelity to the consecrated life, as well as her tireless dedication as a daughter of the Church. Mother is Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was the Apostolic Visitator for Institutes of Women Religious in the United States.
In the news yesterday was the report that Pope Francis reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform needed by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, the prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine congregation and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was named to carry out the reform of the group, met met in Rome with conference president Sister Florence Deacon on April 15 among others.
Archbishop Müller thanked the sisters for their “great contribution” to the Church, “as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor” that have been founded and staffed by religious. The assessment noted that while the LCWR promotes social justice issues, it largely ignores matters of life, marriage and sexuality, which have played a large role in recent public debates. At their conferences, the talks included those with “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
Let us all pray that the LCWR, the affected communities, and those responsible for carrying out the reform may act in good faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit and strive to achieve the unity under Holy Mother Church so desired by our Lord.
For more information, see the Catholic News Service.
The National Catholic Reporter recently had an article about a group of “old-fashioned nuns,” actually what I could call a timeless group of sisters carrying on the traditions of the ages. The LCWR was meeting nearby and the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus were carrying on with their work of caring for the aged and pre-schoolers.
These sisters belong to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), a group that comprises about 10,000 sisters and according to the article, they are young and growing. About 15 years ago, these Carmelites were “stagnant,” not attracting vocations. But then they emphasized their traditional life and vocations started coming in. Many young women are attracted to the wearing of the habit for as Sr. Mary Michael Reiss, 27, says: “I thought if I’m going to do this with my life, to give everything, I want people to know about it, darn it! I wanted the whole church.”
The spirit of the Carmel DCJ comes from the faith experience of Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph. Meditating upon and contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded and bleeding, yet burning with love for mankind, a desire was born in her to love the Sacred Heart with her whole being and make Him loved in every heart He had created.
For more information about this IRL Affiliate Community, see their website.
Excerpt from the Alma Sisters website. Well worth reading the complete article!
We, the physicians and future physicians of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, met on June 2, 2012, to articulate the vision of the call and contribution of religious women in the redemptive healing ministry of the Church. We also addressed statements issued by the Leadership Conference of Woman Religious (LCWR),various news agencies, and other organizations which have created confusion, polarization, and false representations about the beliefs, activities, and priorities of a significant number of women religious in the United States.
As religious women, our whole life is based in faith. Apart from faith, religious life has no meaning. The doctrinal assessment from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) regarding the LCWR is in the language of faith. The responses of opposition are being expressed using the language of politics. There is no basis for authentic dialogue between these two languages. The language of faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, His life and His mission, as well as the magisterial teaching of the Church. In addition, the language of faith does not contradict reason, but elevates it and secures its integrity. The language of politics arises from the social marketplace. The Sisters who use political language in their responses to the magisterial Church reflect the poverty of their education and formation in the faith.
…We praise the generosity and service of religious women who have gone before us. We see great hope for the future of religious life within the Church and for a continuation of its health care mission in the service of all people. This hope lies in remaining within the deposit of faith and the hierarchical structure of the Church. We cannot separate ourselves from sacred Tradition or claim to advance beyond the Church. There will be new expressions of the faith to meet the needs of this present day, but these will be contained within and directed by the Magisterium of the Church. As Saint Augustine exclaims, “O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new!”
There is an interesting article in The National Catholic Register regarding the history behind The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) doctrinal assessment.
A little background: The Vatican established the LCWR in the 1950’s (originally named the Conference of Major Superiors of Women in the United States). In the 1980s those religious communities that did not share the political and religious views of the LCWR petitioned the Holy See to allow them to form their own association. This was finally done when the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) was established in 1992.
The IRL Affiliate Communities are part of the CMSWR. Go to our website to see a list of our communities.
According to the article:
The average age of the members of LCWR communities is 73 and increasing, while their numbers fall. Meanwhile, what of the CMSWR? They represent 20% of all the women religious in the U.S., more than 11,000 sisters, but they are young, with an average age of 35 and falling, and they are growing fast. They are happy to state their fidelity to the magisterium of the Church, to pray together as the central focus of their lives, to work together in community apostolates, to wear recognizable religious habits and, above all, to promote and protect their consecration to Christ as the source and goal of the Church’s life.
On May 18, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI expressed to US Bishops during an Ad Limina visit his “deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women in your country, and to join them in praying that this moment of discernment will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of their communities in fidelity to Christ and the Church, as well as to their founding charisms.”
As the Year of Faith approaches (October), the Holy Father added that he hopes that all people will rediscover and “re-appropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith.” Furthermore, “With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole.”
As we approach Pentecost, may we, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, have the courage of the Apostles to be bearers of the Good News in a world hostile to Christian values.
Tim Drake, writing in the National Catholic Register, has an excellent article which summarizes my frustration over the misleading, inaccurate and totally secular portrayal of the LCWR doctrinal assessment in the press.
One would think that every nun, sister and woman in America is up in arms and angry at the Vatican. Hardly the case.
Tim mentions a Washington Post article in which the female author writes: “For more than a thousand years, women like Mary have entered religious life hoping to find a safe place where they might receive an education and protection from the oppression of marriage and the dangers of child-bearing.” She goes on to say that the Church’s contemporary view of women is that “they are equal, but inferior.”
Eh? Who besides Jesus, the Son of God, is considered more blessed in the Church than a woman – the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Tim goes on to say: “Would Mary, like Dominican Sister Laurie Brink, say that she was “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus?”
I agree with Tim when he says that too many religious women have been betrayed by their leadership. They are the White Martyrs of our time. Tim calls it a generational hijacking. “How many dying religious orders continue to hang on to the property and money obtained through previous social capital while betraying the charism of their founders?”
Some communities believe that as their numbers dwindle, their job is to empower the laity to do what they used to do. The laity however needs to empower them, through our prayers, to live out their vocation, infused with the charism upon which their community was founded. They need to rediscover anew their historical roots in this upcoming Year of Faith. We also need unity among women religious in this country, an “ecclesiology of communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the Church.”
A case in point is the recent document issued by the Holy See about the needed renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). It cites the following issues:
- Talks at assemblies mentioning things like “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus, and distorting faith in Jesus, His Father, the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture
- Letters from the LCWR taking positions contrary to the Church in matters of women’s ordination and a correct pastoral approach to homosexual men and women.
- Silence on abortion and euthanasia
- Non-promotion of the Church’s teaching on family life and human sexuality
- Public statements disagreeing with positions taken by bishops
Let us pray for the renewal of the LCWR and for all women religious who are called to be a symbol, as spouses of Christ, of Christ’s union with His Body the Church.
“The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has called for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and named Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its archbishop delegate for the initiative.” This was the headline on Zenit today. The release highlighted “addresses given at LCWR assemblies (that) contained serious theological and doctrinal errors.”
Most of the IRL women religious belong to communities that are part of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), the LCWR counterpart, that was founded in 1992 to promote religious life in the Unites States. The CMSWR seek to promote unity among Major Superiors, thus testifying to their union with the Church’s Magisterium and their love for the Vicar of Christ on earth. They also staunchly back the Bishops as they fight the assault on our religious liberty.
Let us pray that all faithful women religious may come together as one. The Church teaches that “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.” (CCC 862)