The largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States is being disciplined by the Vatican for “serious doctrinal problems” that include challenging church teaching on homosexuality and “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, was also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals,” The New York Times reported.
In 2010, during the debate over the health care overhaul, dozens of the sisters in the group directly contradicted American bishops by signing a statement in support of Obamacare. That support provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over healthcare, according to the Times.
The verdict on the nuns group was issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is now led by an American, Cardinal William Levada, formerly the archbishop of San Francisco.
Cardinal Levada appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead the process of reforming the sisters’ conference, with assistance from Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and Bishop Leonard Blair, who was in charge of the investigation of the group.
They now have power to revise the group’s statutes, approve of every speaker at the group’s public programs and replace a handbook the group used to facilitate dialogue on matters that the Vatican said should be settled doctrine, the Times reported. They are also supposed to review the Leadership Conference’s links with Network and another organization, the Resource Center for Religious Life.
“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network. “I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”
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