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Tensions with American nuns draws warning from Vatican

Is the LCWR too radical?
Is the LCWR too radical?
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, perfect for the Vatican CDF, pressed on with his disciplinary oversight of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the largest umbrella group for nuns in the U.S. The reform order was issued in 2012 under the authority of Pope Benedict 16, now retired, and has continued to move forward under the administration of Pope Francis, whose term in office has infused progressives of faith with enthusiasm.

Though he offered apologies for being blunt with the group's leaders during last Wednesday's meeting in Rome, Mueller reminded the sisters the status of their organization within the Church depended upon the approval of the Vatican. His statements were covered first by The National Catholic Reporter.

"The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life," Mueller said, according to a copy of his speech posted Monday on the Vatican website.

The LCWR itself said on Monday the meeting with Mueller was "respectful and engaging," but refused to offer any further comment. A previous investigation had concluded that the nuns' group had taken positions which threatened to contravene Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting "radical feminist themes". The sisters were praised by investigators for their humanitarian work, however.

The widening rift between the LCWR and its bishops comes as no surprise to those whose cover the Vatican and the status of contemporary American Catholics, who appear to be susceptible to a more diaphanous self-loving theism, as proposed by Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, a popular and prominent feminist theologian . Due to Pope Francis recent calls to place more emphasis on pastoral concerns and ministry over social issues, the sisters had hoped for a new approach, and feel Mueller's conclusions were based on unsubstantiated allegations.