SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, June 1, 2012, ( – The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which includes the leadership of approximately 80 percent of the Catholic nuns in the United States, has issued a statement criticizing the Vatican for its recent doctrinal assessment of the organization, which denounces the dissenting, anti-family orientations expressed at LCWR meetings.

The statement, which was published on the organization’s website following a special meeting of the board, notes that “board members raised concerns about both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared.”

“Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency,” the press release continues. “Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission.”

“The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization,” the sisters write.

The nuns say that they will meet with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), on June 12 to “raise and discuss the board’s concerns.” They will then “determine a response to the CDF report” at LCWR’s August assembly meeting.

The sisters claim to have received “thousands of messages of support,” and state that the “matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world.” They add that they wish the controversy will be addressed “by the entire Church community in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and integrity.”

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The statement comes in response to a report issued in April by the CDF that acknowledges certain charitable works undertaken by American nuns, but notes that many are affected by a crisis of faith that has led to a loss of a “sense of the Church,” and to ignore or even contradict certain Catholic teachings on human life and family.

The report states that “leadership teams” from various congregations, including officers of the LCWR, have sent letters to Rome to protest Vatican approaches to ministering to homosexuals and addressing the issue of “women’s ordination,” a concept that is contrary to Catholic doctrine. 

“The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality,” the CDF writes. “It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.”

The CDF notes that the LCWR is “is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.”

“Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching,” the CDF finds.

The report also states that LCWR’s meetings have featured speakers, often nuns themselves, who dissent from Catholic doctrine, even claiming that they have gone “beyond” Jesus Christ and the Church. The document characterizes such statements as “a cry for help,” and suggests they are a “snapshot of religious life today.” It decrees the appointment of an Archbishop Delegate and two assistant bishops to review the statutes and activities of the LCWR, and to ensure the re-education of the membership in accordance with Catholic doctrine.