A large share of U.S. Catholics aren't happy with the Vatican's heavy-handed attempt to rein in an organization of nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. A protest march in Seattle on Sunday showed grassroots support for the LCWR, which Catholic leaders in Rome say is going down the path of radical feminism.
In the latest development, the LCWR decided not to respond to a Vatican takeover of their group with a bold move of their own. Instead of coming back with an ultimatum and taking a stand that might have led to a break in relations with church leadership, they issued a statement that expressed their disappointment with Rome's directives and left the door open for further dialogue.
The nuns say they'd like to pursue a negotiated solution to the issues that are galvanizing American Catholics in recent months.
The LCWR, which represents 56,000 nuns in the U.S., says all it's been doing is pursuing its call to work for and with the poor and marginalized, and sometimes push boundaries within the church. This has, in the past (not just recently, but in previous centuries as well) led to suppression by the hierarchy and even sainthood for some nuns. As it's presently organized, it is still under church control, so the Vatican does have the power to investigate and crack down on the group.
While the LCWR is currently taking a more diplomatic stance, it has said it will reconsider its plan if the Vatican forces them to compromise the integrity of their mission. If Rome doesn't give up on plans to revamp the LCWR, the sisters have said they could carry out their threat to disband their organization and then legally reorganize it as a body that would be out of the reach of the Vatican.
The LCWR has been pushing for create more possibilities for laity, and particularly women, to have a greater voice in the church—while the Vatican is pushing back with demands that they scale back their radical feminist leanings and fall in line with the church's orthodox teachings on sexuality and theology. In the course of this conflict the LCWR has experienced an incredible groundswell of support for their stand, including some very positive comments from Catholic priests.
How do Boston Catholics feel about this issue? Are they ready to stage their own protest marches in solidarity with the LCWR?