National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Nuns Call for 'Dialogue' With Vatican Over Doctrinal Disagreements

Nuns Call for 'Dialogue' With Vatican Over Doctrinal Disagreements

August 13, 2012 — Leaders of U.S. Catholic nuns on Friday said they would "dialogue" with church leaders about potential changes but would not "compromise the integrity" of their mission, the New York Times reports.

The statement by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80% of the nation's 57,000 nuns, comes in response to a report issued in April by the Vatican's doctrinal office (Goodstein, New York Times, 8/10). The report accused the group of promoting "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" and ordered the group to implement reforms. The Vatican also criticized the nuns for making statements that "disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops" and for focusing too heavily on helping the poor and disenfranchised and too little on fighting abortion and same-sex marriage.

LCWR President Pat Farrell and Executive Director Janet Mock in June visited the Vatican to discuss the report (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/31).

At a news conference on Friday, Farrell said that the group sought to be "recognized as equal in the church," to have its style of religious life "respected and affirmed," and to help foster a climate in which all members of the church can discuss "issues that are very complicated."

LCWR's "expectation is that open and honest dialogue may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity, and particularly for women, to have a voice in the church," the group said in the statement (New York Times, 8/10).

LCWR's board was expected to meet over the weekend with Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who was appointed by the Vatican to oversee the reforms. The overhaul likely will stretch over five years (Salter/Zoll, AP/Washington Post, 8/10). Sartain said in a statement, "We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising church teaching or the important role of the LCWR" (New York Times, 8/10).