The Vatican has unexpectedly ended its controversial overhaul of the main umbrella group of U.S. nuns, cementing a shift in tone and treatment of the U.S. sisters under the social justice-minded Pope Francis. The Vatican said Thursday it had accepted a final report on its investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and declared the “implementation of the mandate has been accomplished” nearly two years ahead of schedule. The umbrella group for women’s religious orders had been accused of straying from church teaching. The brief report stated the organization would have to ensure its publications have a “sound doctrinal foundation,” and said steps were being taken for “safeguarding the theological integrity” of programs. But no major changes were announced and the direct Vatican oversight that the sisters considered a threat to their mission was over. “I think there are still some questions about how this is going to play out, but that it concluded early was an overwhelming affirmation of what the sisters do,” said Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College.
Catholic News Agency, however, has a response from LCWR:
In a joint report marking the conclusion of a multi-year mandate for reform, members of the LCWR have agreed to corrections called for by the Vatican, and said they will continue on the path of dialogue. “We are pleased at the completion of the mandate, which involved long and challenging exchanges of our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of Religious Life and its practice,” Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, President of LCWR, said in an April 16 press release. Officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle and officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met at the Vatican April 16. Although she was unable to attend the Vatican meeting, Sr. Holland said that “we learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.”
And there’s this analysis from the National Catholic Register:
The sisters also probably came to realize that Pope Francis was not going to intervene because they never were granted the audience with him they had repeatedly requested during the reform effort. Only time will tell how effectively the LCWR will implement the reform, but, for now, all parties involved seem satisfied with the outcome.