Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Sister Annmarie Sanders

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LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS TIMELINE

 1950:  Pope Pius XII convened the First General Congress of the States of Perfection, calling to Rome the superiors general of religious orders throughout the world.

1952 (August):  The heads of men’s and women’s religious organizations met at the National Congress of Religious of the USA.

1956 (April):  The Vatican’s Congregation for Religious asked U.S. Sisters to form a national conference.

1956 (November 24):  The Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) was launched.

1961:  The Second National Congress of Religious in the United States convened superiors of men’s and women’s religious communities at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

1962–1965:  The Second Vatican Council of worldwide bishops met in Rome.

1963:  CMSW established its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

1964:  The first CMSW national conference brought together members in a single location for the first time with a program that included a formal business meeting.

1965:  A national gathering of CMSW marked the beginning of annual assemblies.

1967:  The national assembly of the CMSW focused on results of a CMSW-sponsored “Sisters’ Survey of 1967” of active women religious in the United States by sociologist Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN.

1970:  CMSW restructured its national organization, replacing six original regions with fifteen, and giving all members the right to vote for national officers for the first time.

1971:  The national assembly of CMSW, meeting in Atlanta, adopted new bylaws and changed the name of the organization to Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

1971:  The Consortium Perfectae Caritatis, a splinter group of CMSW members concerned that LCWR was deviating from authentic church teaching about religious life met.

1973:  National LCWR membership numbered 648 members from 370 religious communities.

1977:  The LCWR Office was granted non-governmental status at the United Nations.

1977:  Sister Marjorie Keenan, RSHM, of the LCWR staff, was appointed to the Peace and Justice Commission of the Vatican.

1978 (October 16):  Karol Józef Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II.

1979 (October 7):  LCWR president Sister Theresa Kane, RSM, challenged Pope John Paul II to open all the ministries of the Roman Catholic Church to women, at a Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

1982:  Permanent LCWR national office created with purchase of property in Silver Spring, Maryland.

1984:  Sister Bette Moslander, CSJ, was appointed the LCWR’s official liaison with the commission, and became the first woman to address the National Council of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).

1984 (October 7):  A New York Times ad stating that “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics” was signed by ninety-seven Catholics, including twenty-four Sisters. Subsequently, the LCWR provided resources to the Sisters while they addressed Vatican pressure to repudiate the statement.

1988:  Two Sisters of Notre Dame who had signed the New York Times statement, Barbara Ferraro and Pat Hussey, voluntarily left their religious order.

1990:  LCWR approved a memorandum of understanding on collaboration with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

1992:  LCWR published Threads for the Loom: LCWR Planning and Ministry Studies, a compilation of the comprehensive ministry survey conducted by sociologist Sister Anne Munley, IHM.

1994 (May 24):  Pope John Paul II published an apostolic letter titled Ordinatio sacerdotalis, stating that women cannot be ordained as priests.

1995 (October 28): Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a Responsum ad propositum dubium (in response to the doubt raised) in support of Ordinatio sacerdotalis.

1996: LCWR published Creating a Home: Benchmarks for Church Leadership Roles for Women, the result of a two-year study.

1998: A LCWR Women’s Task Force began a study of non-ordained persons in significant leadership positions in the Roman Catholic Church.

1998 (May 18):  Pope John Paul II issued another apostolic letter, Ad tuendam fidam, stating in effect that anyone who rejected the prohibition of the ordination of women was no longer Catholic.

2001:  LCWR published Women and Jurisdiction: An Unfolding Reality, a study examining how women in Catholic Church leadership roles participate in decision-making.

2002:  LCWR published Carriers of the Story: A Leadership Conference of Women Religious Ministry Study, by Sister Anne Munley, IHM.

2005: LCWR and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University conducted a study to assess the extent to which religious institutes of women had put in place policies, procedures, and practices to prevent sexual abuse by members and to address allegations.

2005 (April 19):  Joseph A. Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.

2009–2014:  The Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life conducted an apostolic visitation in which it investigated all the orders of women religious in the United States.

2009 (March):  LCWR received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s CDF, announcing a decision to conduct a doctrinal assessment of the activities and initiatives of LCWR. U.S. Bishop Leonard Blair began the assessment on behalf of CDF.

2009:  U.S. Bishop Leonard Blair began the assessment of LCWR on behalf of CDF.

2009 (May 19):  The LCWR traveling exhibit, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, opened at the Cincinnati Museum Center and for the next three years traveled to eight other venues across the country.

2009 (September 22):  The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution honoring the historic contributions of Catholic women religious.

2010 (April):  The LCWR officers met with CDF officials during their annual visit to Rome and further discussed the concerns of that office about the LCWR.

2011 (January 12):  All of the documentation developed for the doctrinal assessment was presented by LCWR to the CDF.

2012 (April 12):  Cardinal William Levada of the CDF handed to LCWR officers a statement calling for a mandate of reform of the LCWR. The reform was to happen over five years and would be overseen by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, assisted by Bishops Thomas Paprocki and Leonard Blair.

2013 (March 13):  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. became Pope Francis.

2014 (December):  LCWR president Sister Sharon Holland, IHM, received the report of the apostolic visitation of the orders of U.S. women religious and participated in a press conference in Rome where the results of the study were shared.

2015 (April 16):  CDF and LCWR officials met at the CDF offices in Rome to conclude the mandate. Pope Francis held a private nearly hour-long meeting with the LCWR officials after the mandate was concluded.

2015 (May 15):  On May 15 LCWR issued its own statement about the assessment experience.

2018:  LCWR initiated a new governance model.

2018:  LCWR published However Long the Night: Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis, detailing lessons learned from the assessment and dialogue process.

FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is a membership organization for leaders of orders of Catholic Sisters in the United States (LCWR website 2019). [Image at right] As of 2019, LCWR had 1,315 members who serve as the leaders of 307 religious institutes, whose members total approximately 36,000. (The terms “religious order,” “religious congregation,” and “religious institute” are often used interchangeably. The term “community” while sometimes used in place of “congregation,” generally refers to the small groupings in which the members of the congregation live. The members of women’s religious congregations are called “Sisters” or “women religious.” The term “nuns,” though frequently used, technically applies only to members of contemplative orders.) The religious institutes represented in LCWR are apostolic congregations, meaning that their members are engaged in ministries that involve them in society. The members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

The purpose of LCWR is to promote a developing understanding and living of religious life by:

assisting its members personally and communally to carry out more collaboratively their service of leadership in order to accomplish further the mission of Christ in today’s world;

fostering dialogue and collaboration among religious congregations within the church and in the larger society;

developing models for initiating and strengthening relationships with groups concerned with the need of society, thereby maximizing the potential of the conference for effecting change (LCWR Mission Statement [2019]).

The roots of the LCWR sprouted in 1950 when Pope Pius XII (p. 1939–1958) convoked an international gathering of the heads of religious orders and told them that their organized collaboration could make them a powerful instrument for the transformation of society. The Sisters, however, first needed to be sure that they were appropriately educated for the works they were undertaking.

The first National Congress of Religious of the USA (comprising both men’s and women’s institutes) was held in August 1952. At that meeting, the Reverend Arcadio Larraona Saralegui, CMF, secretary of the Congregation for Religious, referred to a “movement” requiring change: “We must live in our times and according to the needs of our times” (LCWR 2005). Mother Gerald Barry, OP, chaired a national committee of Sisters to plan the women’s section of the Congress. In September 1952, Larraona Saralegui again asked the women present what the founders of their communities would do if confronted with the needs of the world today (LCWR 2005).

Four years later, the U.S. Sisters’ committee of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious organized a meeting of general and provincial superiors of pontifical congregations of Sisters directly responsible to the pope. Participants discussed the formation of a national conference at the November 1956 meeting held in Chicago. By unanimous vote, the Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) was launched. The CMSW stated that its mission was to:

promote the spiritual welfare of the women religious of the USA;

insure increasing efficacy in their apostolate [service to members of society];

foster closer fraternal cooperation with all religious of the United States, the hierarchy, the clergy, and Catholic associations (LCWR 2005).

The historical evolution of LCWR over the next several decades is well-documented in the book, The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters (1992), [Image at right] written by Sister Lora Ann Quiñonez, CDP, and Sister Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN. The authors, both former executive directors of LCWR, chronicle the radical transformation of life for Catholic Sisters in the United States between 1960 and 1980.

In 1960, the CMSW held its first regional meeting with the theme of “Revitalizing Religious Life for the Individual and the Community through Combating the Effects of Naturalism, Lack of Mortification, and Excessive Activity.” The CMSW created standing committees on the topics of Latin America, Catechetics, Health, and Finance, and named Sister Florence Wolff, SL, the first national coordinator. The Second National Congress of Religious in the United States convened superiors of men’s and women’s religious communities at the University of Notre Dame in 1961. Archbishop Agostino Casaroli asked U.S. communities to commit ten percent of their personnel to Latin America over the following decade (LCWR 2005).

A major impetus for this commitment to Latin America was the Second Vatican Council. Convened by Pope John XXIII (p. 1958–1963) in 1962, this conclave of Catholic bishops from around the world reviewed and updated centuries of Catholic teachings and traditions. Attended by more than 2,000 bishops, the council was held in four sessions between 1962 and 1965. [Image at right] The cultural changes in the aftermath of World War II led the Church to consider modernizing some of its practices so that it could better interact with contemporary society. Some changes included allowing Catholics to pray with Christians of other denominations, encouraging friendship with persons of non-Christian faiths, and using vernacular languages besides Latin during Mass.

At the first national (rather than regional) meeting of the CMSW in 1964, National Chair Sister Consolatrice Wright, BVM, challenged the Sisters’ communities to listen to the “eternal now” of the Holy Spirit. Sister Mary Luke Tobin, SL (1908–2006), succeeded Sister Consolatrice as national chair, while Sister Rose Emmanuella Brennan, SNJM, became the first full-time executive director of the CMSW. The CMSW National Executive Committee sent Sister Mary Luke Tobin  to Rome to haunt the halls of the third session of the Second Vatican council to see what she could learn (Reher 2004). [Image at right] On the way to Rome, she was invited by the Vatican as one of the 23 women auditors at Vatican II. Nine of the auditors were Catholic Sisters (LCWR 2005).

The bishops at Vatican II challenged women and men religious to return to their biblical roots and the stories of the founders of their orders and to do what the founders would do in light of the current needs surrounding them. They were encouraged to develop a greater measure of engagement with the modern world. Sisters undertook studies in theology and biblical scholarship, began new ministries, and in many cases modernized their clothing, giving up their traditional form of dress known as “habits.” The Second Vatican Council also called for the revision of the constitutions of each order. These documents provide focus, guidance, and inspiration for each religious community and most of the revised constitutions provided for a more democratic and collaborative style of governance (Neal 1996).

Many Sisters at this time left their traditional ministries of teaching and nursing, in order to serve in the places of greatest need, such as working with the poor and disenfranchised, or in social justice ministries. These changes in ministry paralleled gradual changes occurring in the life and spirituality of Catholic women religious, as well as in their understandings of the nature of religious life and its purpose (Neal 1991/1992; Neal 1996).

At the CMSW national assembly in 1965 (with the theme, “Sisters and the Council”) the National Executive Committee initiated the Canon Law Committee so that U.S. women religious had a voice in the revision of Church law. The first of many assembly resolutions was adopted at the national meeting. This marked the start of annual assemblies of CMSW members. In 1967, the national assembly focused on results of a CMSW-sponsored survey of active women religious in the United States. The study, called “The Sisters’ Survey” (Neal 1967; Ulbrich 2017), was conducted by sociologist Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN, [Image at right] and was designed to provide hard data to individual communities about their members’ readiness to adopt Vatican II’s mandate for renewal.

The “Proposed Norms for Consideration in the Revision of the Code of Canon Law” submitted by CMSW in 1968 to the cardinals on the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law created a formal mechanism for regular CMSW contact with American bishops by establishing a liaison committee. A subsequent questionnaire indicated that 89 percent of CMSW members reported that this document had a positive influence on renewal in their communities. The next year CMSW began a study of its own purposes and services. This was followed in 1970 by a major restructuring of the organization, in which the original six regions were replaced with the current fifteen. All members of CMSW would enjoy universal suffrage and be able to vote for national officers for the first time. Finally, the concept of a three-stage presidency was established by CMSW, which continues to be used in LCWR. In this model, an LCWR member is elected to the presidency at the annual LCWR assembly. She serves one year as president-elect, the second year as president, and the third as past-president. The presidency (president-elect, president, and past-president) operates collaboratively.

A major turning point in the life of CMSW was the creation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 1971. Meeting in Atlanta, the national assembly of CMSW adopted new bylaws and changed the name of the organization. The reorganization saw a number of additional significant changes. Perhaps most important was the emphasis on social justice issues, placed at the center of the LCWR agenda (Weaver 2006:205). The group also formed a program committee responsible for pre-assembly seminar preparation. The new organization also agreed to mix business meetings with large group and workshop sessions to discuss a variety of issues and discuss a variety of issues and concerns. Sister Angelita Myerscough, ASC, [Sister Myerscough on the right in the mage at right] became the first LCWR president, serving 1971–1972. Her remarks at the naional assembly captured the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit of the women religious embarking on this new venture:

Meeting as we do at a moment when our nation, our world, our Church are all “facing an uncertain future” (Apostolic Letter from Paul VI on the Occasion of the Eightieth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum), we have a special opportunity to witness to the charity that fosters mutual trust, the charity that casts out fear, the charity that is the source of joy which we experience when, in Christian hope, we feel we can face the future with confidence (Myerscough 1972).

A splinter group of CMSW members met in 1971 in response to the changes that were occurring in the conference. With the name Consortium Perfectae Caritatis, the group drew members concerned that the newly-named LCWR was deviating from what they believed were authentic Church teachings about the essentials of religious life. The group continued to meet and in 1992 the Vatican accepted their petition to form a new association, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

By 1973 national LCWR membership numbered 648 members from 370 religious communities. There were 241 general superiors, 267 provincial superiors, and 140 others (regional superiors, members of executive committees, and so on) (LCWR 2005). Within two years the LCWR national assembly responded to the needs of migrants, the displaced people of northeast Pennsylvania, those suffering in Bangladesh, and others in disprivileged nations. The United States Catholic Mission Council, the National Sister Formation Conference, the National Sister Vocation Conference, and NETWORK Lobby for Social Justice (inspired by Catholic Sisters) also benefited from LCWR members’ support. Yet LCWR President Margaret Brennan, IHM (1972–1973) [Image at right] saw potential dangers in becoming legitimators of society’s values:

The values we hold and the faith we articulate require strong supportive communities and a degree of apartness from the dominant culture if our life and mission are to be counter-signs to society’s consumptive style, to its power to alienate and to destroy. Can we as a Conference discover ways to be supportive to one another in offering alternatives to society’s prevailing mores? (Brennan 1973).

LCWR continued to work at the regional level, emphasizing evangelization, the biblical way of justice, and the faith dimension of femininity. The year 1974 saw the creation of communications centers; the sharing in national Catechetical Directory consultations; participation in workshops sponsored by the LCWR Global Ministry committee; days of retreat; inter-congregational renewal experiences; actions in reference to the displaced persons of southeast Asia; assisting in the programming for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia; and efforts to speak out when human rights were violated. Two years later LCWR began a goal-setting process to clarify priorities in programming and allocation of resources. The resulting goals were: to articulate a contemporary theology of religious life; to educate for justice; to encourage prayer, study, and action on women’s issues; and to collaborate with others to the maximum extent possible. The LCWR Office was granted non-governmental status at the United Nations in 1977, bringing the perspective of women religious to issues of disarmament, women, and human rights through the practice of permitting certified organizations to participate on international committees. That same year, Sister Marjorie Keenan, RSHM, of the LCWR staff, was appointed to the Peace and Justice Commission of the Vatican, the first time an American woman religious was named to this commission (LCWR 2005).

LCWR president Joan Keleher Doyle, BVM (1978–1979), [Image at right] enumerated the accomplishments of the organization in a conference report in 1978. These included programs designed to transform the perceptions of and about women.

We have promoted the recognition of sexism as destructive of both women and men. If we choose to continue work on this goal, from the position of our increased consciousness, we need to determine what options will most effectively ensure images, structures and ways of relating consonant with God’s reign (Doyle 1979).

On October 7, 1979, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,  D.C., during a ceremony welcoming Pope John Paul II (p. 1978–2005) on the occasion of his first visit to the United States, LCWR president Sister Theresa Kane, RSM (1979–1980), [Image at right] made a public statement asking Pope John Paul II to open all the ministries of the Catholic Church to women. In her welcome to the pope, she said:

As I share this privileged moment with you, Your Holiness, I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind. As women we have heard the powerful messages of our Church addressing the dignity and reverence for all persons. As women we have pondered upon these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church. I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the Church as fully participating members (Kane 1979).

Almost two decades after the CMSW established its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the LCWR office found a permanent home in 1982 with the purchase of a property in Silver Spring, Maryland. Thanks to no-interest loans and gifts from members, LCWR was able to secure the 8808 Cameron Street office it shared with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM). At the same time, the prospect of aging members and dwindling financial resources to support them posed new challenges. “We are on a frontier of vast need, desirous of fulfilling our destiny to be servants, given that others might have life,” LCWR President Bette Moslander, CSJ (1981–1982), [Image at right] declared. “There are far fewer of us than the tasks demand, but enough to begin. The exploration into prophecy does not require large numbers, but large faith” (Moslander 1982). Efforts to provide for retired religious continued across the decades, along with self-assessments to ascertain future viability of various communities.

In 1984, LCWR members assisted diocesan bishops and vicars for religious (a sister or priest who serves as the representative of the bishop for a diocese) in the design of listening sessions for the newly convened Papal Commission on Religious Life, also known as the Quinn Commission. Sister Bette Moslander, CSJ, appointed the commission’s official liaison with LCWR, and became the first woman to address the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) body (in 2001 NCCB was renamed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The Tri-Conference Religious Retirement Office was formed by LCWR, CMSM, and the NCCB in 1986, and later named the National Religious Retirement Office. Then, in 1989, the first meeting of the Tri-Conference Commission on Religious Life and Ministry was held. This commission was formed as the result of a Quinn Commission recommendation. The American bishops, CMSM, and LCWR chose to focus on three areas: identity of religious life, collaboration, and procedures to address issues. LCWR continued to work with its counterpart, the CMSM, and in 1990 the two established a framework for collaboration by approving a memorandum of understanding (LCWR 2005).

Also in 1984, some Sisters in institutes affiliated with LCWR become embroiled in a controversy with Rome over their public endorsement of a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion. The LCWR provided assistance to the twenty-four Sisters who had signed a New York Times ad, stating that “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics,” as they grappled with how to respond to pressure from the Vatican and bishops (LCWR 2005).

In 1992 the LCWR published Threads for the Loom: LCWR Planning and Ministry Studies, a compilation of a comprehensive ministry survey conducted by sociologist Sister Anne Munley, IHM. In an effort to contribute to understanding the ways in which persons who are not ordained may participate in the governance of the Catholic Church, LCWR engaged in a research project that surveyed all women who held one of six roles within Catholic diocesan and parish contexts: chancellor, tribunal judge, finance officer, director of Catholic Charities, vicar/delegate for religious (all diocesan positions), and pastoral director (parish position) and interviewed some of the women holding these positions. The project concluded that women do participate in the exercise of jurisdiction through decision-making affecting persons, property, and policy.

In the 1990s, Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and later Pope Benedict XVI (p. 2005–2013), issued statements with the intention of reserving ordination to the diaconate and priesthood only to men. On May 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II published an apostolic letter titled Ordinatio sacerdotalis to settle discussion of the possibility of ordaining women in the Roman Catholic Church. In Ordinatio sacerdotalis, he stated that the prohibition on the ordination of women was an “irreformable” doctrine and that this teaching was “to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (John Paul II 1994). On October 28, 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued “Responsum ad propositium dubium concerning the Teachings Contained in ‘Ordinatio sacerdotalis,”which states that Pope John Paul II’s position against women’s ordination articulated in Ordinatio sacerdotalis “has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium,” meaning that it was according to the ordinary teaching authority of the bishops in the Church and was not an infallible pronouncement ex cathedra (“from the chair” of Saint Peter). The Responsum stated that the prohibition on the ordination of women rests on “the written Word of God” and the constant practice of the Church. Therefore, the view that women cannot be ordained in the Catholic Church is to be “held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith” (Ratzinger 1995; Wessinger 1996:21–24).

LCWR continued its work engaging with a number of ecclesiastical bodies. For example, LCWR members participated in the Synod on Consecrated Life held in Rome in 1994. They provided a comprehensive critique of the lineamenta (a document written in preparation for a general assembly of the synod of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church). LCWR past president Sister Doris Gottemoeller, RSM (1992–1993), [Image  at right] was named an auditor of the Synod on Consecrated Life. In response to a request from the NCCB, LCWR published Creating a Home: Benchmarks for Church Leadership Roles for Women (1996), the result of a two-year study addressing the question of women’s ordination. The book examined the ways in which women can exercise leadership in the church, given their exclusion from ordination. The book lists fifteen recommendations covering due process, personnel policies, compensation, and theological education (LCWR 2005). [Image at right]

In addition, LCWR worked collaboratively within communities of women religious and with a number of other church bodies. In 1997, a think tank on leadership resulted in the identification of capacities, skills, and competencies required for effective religious leadership. A small booklet, Dimensions of Leadership, was published defining these capacities as being spiritual, relational, and organizational. The Collaborative Viability Project in 1997 assisted communities of women religious in assessing their health in the areas of mission, leadership, membership, resources, planning, and risk taking. LCWR further trained leaders to participate in on-site consultations, along with finance experts, to help institutes to evaluate their responses to the self-assessment. The next year LCWR formed the Center for the Study of Religious Life in Chicago in partnership with CMSM and Catholic Theological Union. Its mission was to undertake interdisciplinary reflection on the experience of religious life since Vatican II. A joint assembly of CMSM and LCWR in 1998 resulted in “a clear call to conversion” from participants on attitudes about, understanding of, and complicity in racism, sexism, unjust economic systems, and other human rights violations. And, in 2005, LCWR and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University conducted a study to assess the extent to which religious institutes of women had put in place policies, procedures, and practices to prevent sexual abuse by members and to address allegations when they arise (LCWR 2005).

The question of women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church remained at the forefront of LCWR concerns. In the Catholic Church, only deacons and priests are ordained. Sisters and Brothers and all other laypeople are not ordained. A “Women’s Task Force” of the LCWR began a study in 1998 of non-ordained persons in significant leadership positions in the Church. The outcomes projected were quantitative and qualitative data to advance the discussion of the role of women in the Church. Responding to a call from the task force, women religious throughout the United States organized “Gatherings of Women” to promote the roles of women in society through dialogue with women who are socially, economically, and culturally diverse.

On May 18, 1998, Pope John Paul II issued another apostolic letter, Ad tuendam fidam (“To Protect the Faith”), stating that anyone who rejects the prohibition of the ordination of women is rejecting a “definitive” doctrine and will “no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church” (John Paul II 1998). This can be interpreted as stating that persons who advocate for women’s ordination are effectively excommunicating themselves from the Church (Halter 2004).

The LCWR’s ground-breaking study, Women and Jurisdiction: An Unfolding Reality (Munley, Smith, Garvey, MacGillivray, and Milligan 2001), [Image at right] reported on how women in Roman Catholic Church leadership roles participate in decision-making. The study concentrated on six roles exercised by women within diocesan and parish contexts and found substantial evidence that women did exercise jurisdiction in decision-making affecting personnel, property, and policy within the Church. The next year LCWR published Carriers of the Story: A Leadership Conference of Women Religious Ministry Study authored by sociologist Sister Anne Munley, IHM, which traced the ministries of U.S. women religious in institutes led by LCWR members. [Image at right]

In 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ordered an investigation of the U.S. orders of women religious in an “apostolic visitation,” which consisted of a survey sent to all orders and in some cases a visit made by a team of Sisters appointed to travel to communities and speak with the Sisters about their lives. The results of the investigation were submitted to the congregation at the end of 2011 (NCR Staff 2014). Shortly thereafter, in March 2009, the LCWR learned that it would be subjected to a “doctrinal assessment” ordered by the Vatican’s CDF. This would last six years and cause great consternation to the Sisters affiliated with LCWR. Both of these investigations would be resolved in 2014 and 2015.

DOCTRINES/BELIEFS

LCWR members adhere to all the major doctrines of the Catholic Church. LCWR has a particular interest and activity in social justice based on the teachings of the Catholic Church including Vatican II. The LCWR website states that

[t]he scope of the conference’s concerns is broad and includes collaborating in Catholic Church and societal efforts that influence systemic change; studying significant trends and issues within the church and society; utilizing our corporate voice in solidarity with people who experience any form of violence or oppression; and creating and offering resource materials on religious leadership skills (“LCWR Purpose” [2019]).

A major component of LCWR’s vision and purpose is working for a more just and peaceful world. According to its declaration on Social Justice, the LCWR “provides opportunities for addressing issues of concern with a corporate voice by taking action on resolutions approved at the national assembly. Resolutions are kept before the members through the work of the Global Concerns Committee and periodic publications of Resolutions to Action” (“LCWR and Social Justice” [2019]).

RITUALS/PRACTICES 

LCWR generally incorporates prayer and reflection into all of its meetings. Those meetings include its annual assembly, biannual gatherings of its members in geographic regions, and numerous meetings of committees, task forces, dialogue groups, and more. The members try to integrate into their gatherings, and the work that occurs at those gatherings, processes that are contemplative and reflective and designed to bring forth the voice and the wisdom of each person present.

ORGANIZATION/LEADERSHIP

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), established and approved by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 1956 as an organization of pontifical right (an institution created by the Holy See) within the Roman Catholic Church, exercises moral power as a corporate person through service to its members. The conference possesses policy-making and executive authority sufficient for its own affairs. The conference respects the autonomy of each religious institute of Sisters affiliated with it.

LCWR communicates regularly with and is accountable to the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In a spirit of coordination and cooperation, it communicates with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and with the representative of the Holy See to the United States.

Membership of LCWR is open to those persons who serve as the principal administrative officers of the congregations, provinces, and regions of women religious in the United States or territories within U.S. possession. Such officers include major superiors (or their equivalents) of diocesan or pontifical congregations and societies of apostolic life. Membership is concurrent with the terms of office in respective congregations. Associate status is open to: a) a major superior residing abroad (or her duly appointed representative) who has members of her religious congregation residing in the United States or territories within its possession; b) the major officer or delegate of national organizations of women religious; c) the prioress or delegate of contemplative congregations of women religious; d) past presidents and executive directors of LCWR who are no longer conference members. 

The National Assembly is the deliberative body of the LCWR. It serves as a forum for discussion and decision on matters relevant to the purpose and goals of the conference. Ordinarily, the members meet in assembly once a year.

The functions of the National Assembly are: to provide a forum for the discussion of topics relevant to the role and purpose of the conference; to formulate and approve resolutions on issues of concern to the membership within the scope of the conference; to set directions and goals; to elect the National Officers of the conference; and to receive the annual conference report. The National Assembly is held every year in August at different sites across the United States. Associates may attend the National Assembly as observers.

The National Board is the governing body of the LCWR. The National Officers of the conference are the president, the president-elect, the immediate past-president, secretary, and treasurer. The officers, together with eight to ten elected members of the organization, comprise the National Board. Prior to 2018, the chairs of LCWR’s fifteen regions served on the board with the officers. In 2018, LCWR initiated a new governance model whereby its National Board is now comprised of the National Officers, as well as members elected at large by the members.

LCWR has historically assumed an anticipatory leadership role for Catholic Sisters in the United States. It is committed to reading the signs of the times, studying the trends and movements within the world it serves, the Catholic Church, and religious life so that it can assist its members to be as responsive as possible to current and future needs. This has been done by establishing committees and task forces to study various issues and trends, and creating resources and programs for its members to respond to new movements and ideas.

Over the years, LCWR has been looked upon as a moral leader in society, in the Catholic Church, and among persons of other faiths committed to building a more just world. The conference is purposely headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area so it can advocate on social issues with the U.S. government, and so it can collaborate with other organizations also involved with education and advocacy on critical national matters.

ISSUES/CHALLENGES

The transformations involved in renewal of the Sisters’ institutes and their leadership resulted in some conflict with Vatican authorities as mentioned above. While the changes taking shape for women religious before Vatican II had been mandated by the Church leadership, by the 1970s, Vatican authorities no longer seemed as positive about renewal, either among women religious or within the Church in general. Over the decades, some members of the Church hierarchy noted their dissatisfaction with Sisters redefining religious life, speaking out on national issues, and undertaking ministries that were apart from their own institutes’ sponsored institutions. Central to this tension was disagreement about religious life and its relationship to church authority (Neal 1996).

After LCWR president Sister Theresa Kane, RSM, addressed Pope John Paul II, on October 7, 1979, and respectfully challenged him to open all the ministries of the Church to women, she observed that:

I thought it appropriate to pledge our solidarity with the Pope as he called our attention to the serious responsibilities we have to our sisters and brothers who live in poverty and destitution. I also sensed the need of some women to articulate their growing concern about being included in all ministries within the church. Within my own heart there were only sentiments of profound fidelity, honesty, and sincerity to our God and to our Church. As a result of the greeting, a few congregations withdrew from the conference. Through that experience LCWR became more public; the membership gained new responsibilities (Kane 1980).

 Another controversy erupted after twenty-four Sisters were among the 97 Catholics, including two Brothers and two priests, who signed a New York Times ad, published on October 7, 1984, sponsored by Catholics for a Free Choice, with the headline “A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortion Exists Among Committed Catholics.” The LCWR presidency met with the apostolic pro-nuncio and the NCCB concerning Vatican pressure on these Sisters to either repudiate the New York Times statement or be dismissed from their orders. LCWR provided canonical and theological resources to Sisters in member congregations involved in the storm. The four men removed their names from the statement. Twenty-two of the Sisters signed compromise statements that were not retractions, but were interpreted as such by the Vatican (LCWR 2005; Wessinger 1996:24; Kissling 2006:1105–06). In 1988, Barbara Ferraro and Pat Hussey, two Sisters of Notre Dame who had signed the New York Times statement, voluntarily left their religious order (Wessinger 1996:24).

In 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ordered an investigation of the U.S. orders of women religious in an “apostolic visitation.” The results of the investigation were submitted to the Vatican at the end of 2011 (NCR Staff 2014).

A major controversy in the life of LCWR occurred in March 2009, when it received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s CDF, announcing a decision to conduct a “doctrinal assessment” of the activities and initiatives of LCWR. The letter expressed concern over “both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of LCWR” specifically regarding “controverted issues such as the Apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Declaration of this Congregation Dominus Jesus [the CDF] [Responsum ad propositium dubium by Cardinal Ratzinger], and the problem of homosexuality.” The assessment would have as its principal purpose “to review the work of the LCWR in supporting its membership as communities of faith and witness to Christ in today’s Church, and to offer any useful assistance.” The CDF appointed U.S. Bishop Leonard Blair to begin the assessment. The bishop sent a letter to LCWR noting some preliminary considerations and some of the doctrinal issues that had precipitated CDF’s concerns. For example, Bishop Blair stated that “at annual LCWR Assemblies from 2003–2008, some of the guest speakers, officers, and honorees espouse erroneous theological positions and manifest the strong influences of disturbing theological trends, including a general antipathy to the ‘institutional church.’” The letter and an accompanying paper listed examples from various addresses, as well as from LCWR’s Occasional Papers and the LCWR website. Blair asked about the attitude of the LCWR leadership regarding the hierarchical structure of the Church, the teaching office and authority of the pope and bishops, and their “understanding of their responsibility to maintain and foster the reception of controverted doctrines.”

From February 2009 through July 2010 (NCR 2014), meetings and correspondence took place between the LCWR presidents and executive director and Bishop Blair on these questions. From LCWR’s perspective, the perceptions of LCWR held by CDF were based on incorrect information. In 2010, Bishop Blair wrote to LCWR to state that CDF had now directed him to assess the LCWR “programs and resources.” The bishop then asked for LCWR materials used over the previous five years and for information on LCWR’s various subsidiary and related organizations and their resources. All materials were sent to CDF. The LCWR officers met with CDF officials in April 2010 during their annual visit to Rome and further discussed CDF’s concerns. In January 2011, LCWR presented all of the documentation from the doctrinal assessment to the Ordinary Session of the Cardinal and Bishop Members of the CDF. The CDF subsequently decided that “the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern,” and that after the visitation of religious orders in the United States was completed, the Holy See should intervene “to effect a reform of the LCWR.” They further stated that the CDF would “examine the various forms of canonical intervention available for the resolution of the problematic aspects present in the [doctrinal] assessment.” Pope Benedict XVI approved the decisions of the Ordinary Session of the CDF and ordered their implementation. Nothing about Pope Benedict’s decision was communicated to LCWR.

During the years of the Vatican investigation of LCWR, many organizations honored the conference with awards for its decades of service and for its integrity. These included Call to Action, Pax Christi, the Interfaith Center of New York, Herbert Haag Foundation for Freedom in the Church, and several universities, including Harvard Divinity School. LCWR officers were invited to speak about the experience throughout the United States and in several countries in Europe. For example, in 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 411, which “Honors and commends Catholic sisters for their humble service and courageous sacrifice throughout the U.S. history” (U.S. House of Representatives 2009). A traveling exhibit, with more than seventy artifacts never before on public display, co-sponsored by LCWR and the Cincinnati Museum Center, opened in 2009 and showcased the story of women religious and their contributions to the growth of the United States. These items included a handwritten letter from President Thomas Jefferson, a cradle from the New York Foundling Home, a replica of an infant incubator designed by a Sister, traveling trunks, journals of immigration experiences, pioneering healthcare devices, diaries, musical instruments, and more. A one-hour documentary entitled Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America premiered in 2011 (Berry 2011) and also raised public awareness about the role women religious have played in the nation’s development.

In April 2012, Cardinal William Levada distributed copies of a statement of the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF on the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to LCWR leaders during their annual visit to the CDF in the Vatican. At this meeting, LCWR officers were informed that a press release was being issued about a mandate of reform of the LCWR issued by the CDF that involved the appointment of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain who would be assisted by two other U.S. bishops to carry out the mandate. The assessment had alleged that the LCWR had “serious doctrinal problems,” had disagreed with Church teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and had promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” Further, Sisters and organizations affiliated with LCWR (such as NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, D.C., led by Sister Simone Campbell, SSS) were criticized for publicly disagreeing with Catholic bishops (for instance on the Sisters’ support for the Affordable Care Act in 2010) and for being too engaged in social justice work while remaining “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage (Goodstein 2012). LCWR leaders and members were shocked by the results of the doctrinal assessment and its mandate for implementing change, especially since the LCWR had clarified where inferences had been drawn other than what had been intended or that did not accurately represent statements that were made by LCWR speakers (see the reply to the assessment by LCWR President Pat Farrell, OSF, in NPR Staff 2012).

Throughout the remainder of 2012 and into the spring of 2015, LCWR leaders, the three bishops, and other CDF officials worked through a long process of dialogue and reflection about LCWR. Concurrently, many women and men religious throughout the United States and the world, as well as members of the Catholic Church and the public, followed this process closely. Close to 100,000 people corresponded with LCWR through emails, letters, and petitions. The vast majority expressed support for LCWR and asked the conference to maintain its integrity as it worked through the mandate. A few expressed support for the concerns of the CDF. Media around the world followed the story, and many wrote articles, and produced radio and television programs on this topic, including a segment on 60 Minutes that aired in 2013, as well as many other national media outlets such as MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, National Public Radio, Time magazine, New York Times, BBC Radio, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The GuardianChicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Women’s eNews, and others. The vast majority of the media treatments expressed concern about the Vatican’s handling of the LCWR and the Catholic Sisters in orders affiliated with it.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life invited LCWR president Sister Sharon Holland, IHM (2014), to Rome in December 2014 to receive the report of the apostolic visitation of orders of U.S. women religious, and participate in a press conference where the study was shared publicly. Prior to the press conference, Sister Sharon Holland met with Pope Francis (p. 2013–present). [Image at right] Following the release of the report, LCWR issued a statement which said in part:

We are pleased that this data, as well as the experiences, hopes, and dreams shared during the onsite visits, resulted in an accurate report of both the blessings of US women’s religious life as well as its challenges. . . . We are grateful that each religious institute has been entrusted with discerning its way forward in fidelity to its mission in the church. We are confident that US women religious will carefully read and study the report, discuss it with others, and discern what its call is to their own institutes (Sanders n.d.).

This ended a long, controversial process initiated by the Vatican in 2008 that caused great concern among Catholic Sisters and the wider church.

Finally, in April 2015, CDF and LCWR officials met to conclude the mandate for reform of LCWR. Immediately following their meeting at the Vatican, the four LCWR officials met privately for a one-hour meeting with Pope Francis, [Image at right] a meeting that received wide media attention (Goodstein 2015). On that day, CDF and LCWR issued a rare joint statement declaring that the mandate was completed (LCWR and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 2015). One month later, LCWR issued its own statement about the assessment experience. The declaration noted that “the sanctions called for in the CDF mandate were disproportionate to the concerns raised” (Holland, Allen, Zinn, and Steadman n.d.). It expressed regret and sadness over the scandal and pain experienced across the Catholic community; but it also noted the humiliation women religious felt because of the false accusations made that were repeated in the media. The statement praised the openness of the American bishops who had been delegated by the CDF to implement its mandate. Nevertheless,

[p]reparation for and participation in such rigorous dialogue and exchange of ideas was time-consuming and, at times, difficult. The choice to stay at the table and continue dialogue around issues of profound importance to us as US women religious had its costs. The process was made more difficult because of the ambiguity over the origin of the concerns raised in the doctrinal assessment report that seemed not to have basis in the reality of LCWR’s work. The journey in this uncharted territory at times was dark and a positive outcome seemed remote (Holland, Allen, Zinn, and Steadman n.d.).

 One of the most difficult parts of the process was the decision of LCWR officers to speak directly with dialogue partners (the bishops) in private, rather than through the media. This meant, however, that participants in the dialogue could speak honestly and freely. The LCWR statement concluded by noting that

[a]dmittedly, entering into a commitment to regular and consistent dialogue about core matters that have the potential to divide us can be arduous, demanding work, but work that is ultimately transformative. However challenging these efforts are, in a world marked by polarities and intolerance of difference, perhaps no work is more important (Holland, Allen, Zinn, and Steadman n.d.).

Because of the public attention given to LCWR by the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment and mandate for reform, many organizations and individuals expressed interest in learning how LCWR managed the six-year crisis. In response, LCWR published a book about what was learned entitled, However Long the Night: Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis (Sanders 2018). [Image at right] In chapters authored by those who led LCWR through the experience, the writers share the values, attitudes, and practices that helped them personally, and aided the organization nationally, with the hope that these processes and conceptual frameworks can assist others who are living or leading in a complex and challenging situation. The book explores many issues, including the roles of truth and conscience; and it provides a methodology for ethical decision-making.

SIGNIFICANCE TO THE STUDY OF WOMEN IN RELIGIONS 

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been known to be “a force in the transformation process” of Catholic Sisters since its founding (Quiñonez and Turner 1992:ix). It has been at the forefront of the movement in the United States over the decades as Sisters came to terms with the “implications, personal and public, of being women” and have long-worked to have the structures of the Church and of their own institutes “incorporate women’s knowledge” (Quiñonez and Turner 1992:93). According to Lora Ann Quiñonez, CDP, and Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN, authors of The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters:

LCWR, both as system and as membership body, attests to the reality of the process we call “feminization.” In terms of the first, the structures of governance, decision-making, programming, communication, and work manifests characteristics that we tend to identify with women. In terms of the second, the collective body prefers feminized styles of interaction. They vote to maintain the concerns of women as an important piece of the agenda. They identify themselves as women and put energy into knowing their experience as women. They respond to calls to uncover the truth revealed by their experience and to celebrate it. And they persist in trying to translate their new knowledge into public forms, whether civil or church. We believe that one of the critical factors driving the feminization process is that the women, collectively, began to notice the systemic absence and silence of women in ecclesiastical polity, ministry, and cult (1992:93–94).

Over the years, LCWR has provided studies, research, publications, programs, and more that have helped in the gradual renewal of consciousness about the contributions of women to the Catholic Church and society. As a result, Catholic Sisters and other women who have been associated with LCWR have grown in their capacity to create educational programs, worship experiences, governance structures, and communications vehicles that incorporate women’s perspectives.

The 2009–2015 experience of the Vatican’s investigation and efforts to reform the LCWR was evidence of the ongoing creative tension between a centuries-old hierarchical Church leadership structure and an organization within the Catholic Church that has modes of operation that emphasize shared leadership and collaboration. The capacity for both groups to work through this tension in a respectful, civil manner that left both sides intact has provided hope to organizations seeking ways to work through conflict and polarization. LCWR members’ practices of contemplation, respectful listening, and open dialogue have proven to be of interest to others looking for ways to increase civility and nonviolence in an increasingly polarized society.

IMAGES

 Image #1: Banner from the LCWR website. Accessed 22 July 2019.
Image #2: Cover of The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters by Lora Ann Quiñonez, CDP, and Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN.
Image #3: Second Vatican Council meeting in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Image #4: Sister Mary Luke Tobin, SL, in Rome in 1964.
Image #5: Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN, Emmanuel College Professor of Sociology. Emmanuel College Archives, Cardinal Cushing Library.
Image #6: Sister Angelita Myerscough, ASC (on the right), with Sister Mary Omer Downing, SC.
Image #7: Sister Margaret Brennan, IHM.
Image #8: Sister Joan Keleher Doyle, BVM.
Image #9: Sister Theresa Kane welcomes Pope John Paul II to the United States during which she calls for him to give women access to all the ministries of the Roman Catholic Church. Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., 7 October 1979. Alexander Street. University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, Indiana. Accessed from https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/d/1000690795.
Image #10: Sister Bette Moslander, CSJ, 1980–1981.
Image #11: Sister Doris Gottemoeller, RSM, in 1998.
Image #12: Cover of Creating a Home: Benchmarks for Church Leadership Roles for Women edited by Jeanean D. Merkel and published by the LCWR in 1996.
Image #13: Cover of Women and Jurisdiction: An Unfolding Reality: The LCWR Study of Selected Church Leadership Roles by Anne Munley, IHM, Rosemary Smith, SC, Helen Maher Garvey, BVM, Lois MacGillivray, SNJM, and Mary Milligan, RSHM, and published by the LCWR in 2001.
Image #14: Cover of Carriers of the Story: A Leadership Conference of Women Religious Ministry Study by Anne Munley, IHM, and published by LCWR in 2002.
Image #15: Mother M. Clare Millea, ASCJ, apostolic visitator; Sister Sharon Holland, IHM, president of LCWR; Pope Francis; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV, chair of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (left to right) prior to press conference on December 16, 2014.
Image #16: Four LCWR leaders meet with Pope Francis on 16 April 2015 in his studio in the Vatican. L’Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP. Sisters Joan Marie Steadman, CSC; Janet Mock, CSJ; Carol Zinn, SSJ; and Marcia Allen, CSJ.
Image #17: Cover of However Long the Night: Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis: A Spiritual Journey of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), edited by Annmarie Sanders, IHM, and published by LCWR in 2018.

REFERENCES

Berry, Mellissa, dir. 2011. Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America. LCWR. 56 mins. DVD. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/item/women-spirit-dvd on 10 December 2019

Brennan, Margaret, IHM. 1973. “LCWR Presidential Address.” University of Notre Dame Archives.

Doyle, Joan Keleher, BVM. 1979. “LCWR Presidential Address.” University of Notre Dame Archives.

Goodstein, Laurie. 2015. “Vatican Ends Battle with US Catholic Nuns’ Group.” New York Times,  April 17. Accessed from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/us/catholic-church-ends-takeover-of-leadership-conference-of-women-religious.html on 10 December 2019.

Goodstein, Laurie. 2012. “Vatican Reprimands U.S. Nuns Group.” New York Times, April 18. Accessed from https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/us/vatican-reprimands-us-nuns-group.html on 10 December 2019.

Halter, Deborah. 2004. The Papal “No”: A Comprehensive Guide to the Vatican’s Rejection of Women’s Ordination. New York: Crossroad.

Holland, Sharon, IHM, Marcia Allen, CSJ, Carol Zinn, SSJ, and Joan Marie Steadman, CSC. n.d. “Statement of the LCWR Officers on the CDF Doctrinal Assessment and Conclusion of the Mandate.” LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/media/statement-lcwr-officers-cdf-doctrinal-assessment-and-conclusion-mandate on 22 July 2019.

John Paul II. 1998. “Apostolic Letter Ad tuendam fidem.” Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed from http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_30061998_ad-tuendam-fidem.html on 10 December 2019.

John Paul II. 1994. “Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis of John Paul I to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone,” May 24. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed from http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis.html on 10 December 2019.

Kane, Theresa, RSM. 1980. “LCWR Presidential Address.” University of Notre Dame Archives.

Kane, Theresa, RSM. 1979. “Welcome to Pope John Paul II.” 7 October. Donna Quinn Collection 5/Pope’s US Visit – 1979, 1 of 3. Women and Leadership Archives. Loyola University Chicago. Available at https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/d/1000690795.

Kissling, Francis. 2006. “Women’s Freedom and Reproductive Rights: The Core Fear of Patriarchy.” Pp. 1099–1110 in Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, edited by Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, with Marie Cantlon, Volume 3. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

LCWR. 2005. “Timeline of the History of the Leadership Conference of Women Religions.” LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/sites/default/files/media/files/LCWR_Jubilee_Timeline.doc on 10 December 2019.

“LCWR and Social Justice.” 2019. LCWR. https://lcwr.org/social-justice. Accessed 9 December 2019.

“LCWR Mission Statement.” 2019. LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/about/mission on 14 July 2019.

“LCWR Purpose.” 2019. LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/media on 9 December 2019.

LCWR website. 2019. LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/ on 9 December 2019.

LCWR and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). 2015. “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Concludes Mandate Regarding LCWR: Press Release and Final Report on the Implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and Mandate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF),”  April 13. LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/media/news/congregation-doctrine-faith-concludes-mandate-regarding-lcwr on 10 December 2019.

Moslander, Bette, CSJ. 1982. “LCWR Presential Address.” University of Notre Dame Archives.

Munley, Anne, IHM. 2002. Carriers of the Story: A Leadership Conference of Women Religious Ministry Study. Washington, D.C.: Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Munley, Anne, IHM, Rosemary Smith, SC, Helen Maher Garvey, BVM, Lois MacGillivray, SNJM, Mary Milligan, RSHM. 2001. Women and Jurisdiction: An Unfolding Reality: The LCWR Study of Selected Church Leadership Roles. Washington, D.C.: Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Myerscough, Angelita, ASC. 1972. “LCWR Presidential Address.” University of Notre Dame Archives.

Neal, Marie Augusta, SND de Namur. 1996. “Ministry of American Catholic Sisters: The Vowed Life in Church Renewal.” Pp. 231-43 in Religious Institutions and Women’s Leadership: New Roles Inside the Mainstream, edited by Catherine Wessinger. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Neal, Marie Augusta, SND de Namur. 1991/1992. “Women Religious: Twenty-three Years after Vatican Council II.” U.S. Catholic Historian 10: 113–18.

Neal, Marie Augusta, SND de Namur. 1967. “The Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) Sisters’ Survey of 1967.” University of Notre Dame Curate ND. Accessed from https://curate.nd.edu/show/0r967368551 on 17 November 2019.

NCR Staff. 2014. “Timeline of Interactions between LCWR, Doctrinal Congregation.” National Catholic Reporter, May 8. Accessed from https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/timeline-interactions-between-lcwr-doctrinal-congregation on 10 December 2019.

NPR Staff. 2012. “An American Nun Reponds To Vatican Criticism,” July 17. Accessed from https://www.npr.org/2012/07/17/156858223/an-american-nun-responds-to-vatican-condemnation on 10 December 2019.

Quiñonez, Lora Ann, CDP, and Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN. 1992. The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Ratzinger, Joseph. 1995. “Responsum ad prospositum dubium concerning the Teaching Contained in “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” October 28. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Accessed from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19951028_dubium-ordinatio-sac_en.html on 10 December 2019.

Reher, Margaret Mary. 2004. “Sister Mary Luke Tobin (1908–): Architect of Renewal.” American Catholic Studies 115:87–91.

Sanders, Annmarie, IHM, ed. 2018. However Long the Night: Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis: A Spiritual Journey of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Sanders, Annmarie, IHM. N.d. “LCWR Responds to Report of the Apostolic Visitation.” Press Release. LCWR. Accessed from https://lcwr.org/media/lcwr-responds-report-apostolic-visitation-report on 10 December 2019.

Ulbrich, Shane. 2017. “The Sisters’ Survey: Preservation and Access for a New Generation,” October 9. Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame. Accessed from https://cushwa.nd.edu/news/the-sisters-survey-preservation-and-access-for-a-new-generation/  on 10 December 2019.

U.S. House of Representatives. 2009. H. Res. 441­—Honoring the Historical Contributions of Catholic Sisters in the U.S. Sponsored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Passed September 22. Accessed by https://www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/house-resolution/441/text on 10 December 2019.

Weaver, Mary Jo. 2006. “American Catholic Women since Vatican Council II.” Pp. 200–09 in Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, Volume 1, edited by Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether with Marie Cantlon. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Wessinger, Catherine. 1996. “Women’s Religious Leadership in the United States.” Pp. 3-36 in Religious Institutions and Women’s Leadership: New Roles Inside the Mainstream, edited by Catherine Wessinger. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Publication Date:
7 December 2019

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