The increasing number of Catholics who have been calling for the Vatican to exert more influence on the Catholic Church in the U.S. are about to get their wish.
No sooner had the ink dried on our May 2009 New Oxford Note "Song of the Boo-Birds" about the now-underway apostolic visitation of U.S. women's religious orders that it was announced that the Holy See is preparing an additional investigation of consecrated women in the U.S.
As detailed in that New Oxford Note, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) was directed by Pope Benedict XVI to "look into the quality of life" at the general and provincial houses and centers of initial formation of women religious in the U.S. This visitation, led by the Rev. Mother Mary Claire Millea, will take an estimated two years to complete.
The new investigation, by contrast, has been placed under the purview of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which will make a "doctrinal assessment" of the tenor and content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The LCWR is the nation's largest organization of administrators of women's religious orders, claiming over 1,500 members, who together represent around 95 percent of the 58,000 women religious in the U.S. No small potatoes. The LCWR also happens to be the bastion of leftist feminism in the U.S. Catholic Church. The LCWR's mission statement includes this choice line: "Developing models for initiating and strengthening relationships with groups concerned with the needs of society, thereby maximizing the potential of the conference for effecting change." One of the LCWR's stated purposes is "collaborating in Catholic church and societal efforts that influence systemic change." Judging by this chirping about "change," one could easily conclude that the LCWR fancies itself the political body of the institutional revolution in religious life since Vatican II.
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