LCWR assembly in St. Louis drawing a lot of media attention

Sisters praying at LCWR assembly. (CNS photo)

A lot of people are paying attention to the annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in St. Louis this week.

Previous meetings — which are usually more business-focused or aimed at continuing education for the sisters who represent 80 percent of U.S. congregations — have not attracted a lot of press coverage and have not even drawn the crowds from its own members as this gathering has.

The Aug. 7-10 assembly is being covered by reporters from religious news organizations, local and national media, and even Ms. Magazine.

During an announcement at the meeting Aug. 8, an LCWR official urged the sisters to be patient with hotel staff since many adjustments had to be made to accommodate 900 participants, 300 more than usual. The sisters also were told about the media presence and reminded not to talk with reporters about the process of discerning the Vatican’s assessment of their organization since that will continue to unfold in numerous executive sessions only for LCWR members throughout the four-day meeting.

LCWR officials plan to announce their response to the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment and its call for reform of the organization during a mid-day press conference Friday. Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, outgoing president,  said Aug. 7  that the outcome of the discussions, led by two facilitators, might not even be a decision but simply “the next best step.”

The  organization’s canonical status is granted by the Vatican, which said reform of LCWR is needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in the areas of abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

Meanwhile, in group sessions, the theme of songs and prayers has been about letting go of preconceived ideas or fears and trusting the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The women religious also have been given time for silent prayer and reflection.

Barbara Marx Hubbard, the main speaker Aug. 8, essentially urged the sisters to embrace the notion of change and growth reflected in biblical passages that speak of rebirth and “making all things new.”

Hubbard is an author, speaker and educator known for promoting a view called “conscious evolution,” which the LCWR assembly participants seemed to get especially when she spoke about women religious being catalysts for change in a world that needs it.

At a press conference after the talk, LCWR representatives continued with the theme of how they have always adapted to changing needs by talking about how many orders were founded simply to respond to unmet needs around them.

Sister Nancy Conway, a Sister of St. Joseph from Cleveland, told reporters: “Religious congregations were founded when an aspect of the Gospel was not flourishing. The Holy Spirit worked among founders to address that dimension.”

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12 Responses to LCWR assembly in St. Louis drawing a lot of media attention

  1. Duane Lamers says:

    Indeed, the media is looking for another frenzy. They want to see conflict in the Church because, well– that’s who they are.

    If LCWR decides to put to rest some uneasiness in Rome by making sure its members make clear and unqualified statements relative to Church positions, then the media will walk away emptyhanded.

  2. marcus says:

    ” making sure its members make clear and unqualified statements relative to Church positions”….(is that possible?)
    Why then would they have Barbara Marx Hubbard (a pagan psycho-visionairy and non-Catholic to boot) be the main speaker at this conference? Hello, Hello..anyone home there?
    They are tragically too deeply commited to their 60s feminist revolutionairy provocation as a group.
    Anyone care to defend this heretical conference that features Barbara Marx Hubbard as the key note speaker? If so, you too are likely against the teaching of the RCC and need to repent.

  3. Elleblue Jones says:

    The LCWR may be getting attention in the US but we haven’t heard a peep here in Canada and that’s a good thing. I suppose negative attention is better than no attention. Frankly that’s what I believe all this nonsense is about. The ‘sisters’ want to be in control and they have taken very specific vows as relgious women which means they in fact no longer have control of their lives. They are supposed to be living lives built on Christ and His Church. They want to turn everything into a power struggle the minute they don’t get their own way. Mmm, sounds remarkably like a two year old and a temper tantrum.

    The Church will lose absolutely nothing if they drift off even further. I for one wish they would ‘go beyond Christ and the Church’, at least they would no longer bring scandal and confusion to the laity. They are so off the path, they might as well just keep going.

    Traditional orders and new orders will more than be able to supply our Church with women who are truly dedicated to their communities and their vows. These young women are well educated and have willingly given up secular pursuits. The old gals of the LCWR are hanging on to the secular world and it’s rewards for all they are worth. As they reap, so will they sow!

  4. Christine Testa REHS/RS says:

    How typical of you, Duane and Marcus. Repent yourself Marcus! These Women Religious have been working hands on, in the trenches and know what the world is all about. It’s time we paid attention to them. Who are the Sisters at your parish? Have you thanked them today? Thank God for these women in their 50’s 60’s 70’s and who are still fighting for gender equality and inclusion. Remember the first ordained Black Catholic Priest? Or what about the first female alter server? Why are so many wonderful devout homosexual religious still hiding in the closet? The gifts that they could bring to the congregation! It’s the women in their 20s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who better wake up before we all go back 50 years. Marcus and Duane let me remind you that we are in the 21 century. Read Bishop Shelby Spong . The Episcopalians fought hard for reformation to include women and homosexuals back in the 70’s and 80’s. Don’t you think the Catholic Church needs to catch up?
    God bless you

  5. Guy says:

    Christine…. Gender equality and inclusion? Seriously? You spout mere talking points of the feminazis of today! Either these women follow the tenets of the Catholic Faith or they can leave the RCC and go start some hippie commune where they can practice their non Catholic fanatical beliefs. After reading your post here, I am curious why you are still a Catholic? There are many “enlightened” non Catholic Churches out there that share your non Catholic beliefs. You claim the Catholic Church needs to “catch up?” With what? With the secularism that is so prevalent in today’s society? Should the Church simply “go with the flow” when it comes to morality? Sorry, that’s not how it works. You’re free “to do your own thing” but don’t call yourself a Catholic if you’re not following the tenets of the religion.

  6. marcus says:

    “Don’t you think the Catholic Church needs to catch up?”

    Catch up? To what? Modernity? How obsurd.
    Here-in lies the problem

  7. Christine says:

    … I didn’t know all here who are reading this article are so pious and morally superior. We all seem to be missing something and Elliblue Jones pointed it out. Why are we not hearing much about this issue? Like it or not the Church is very political with the “good ole boy mentality”. I wonder why things are so hush hush. Secondly, I find it a bit odd myself that they chose Ms Hubbard. It would have been better to have Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J. an amazing woman and a feminist theologian as their guest speaker. As for as my Catholic-ness that you question, yes I am Catholic and I find value with our sacraments and the Eucharist and our wonderful Saints and the teachings of God’s mercy and forgiveness. What I never liked is being questioned about my Catholic-ness when I exercise my freedom of thought and expression. We are not cattle in a ranch. We are human beings with different life experiences and situations all striving for Gods love and acceptance. The church must recognize the humanity and the role the church has as servants. The Sisters recognize this and should be supported

  8. Mike says:

    Christine, you are correct that we are all diverse with different backgrounds and experiences. But that doesn’t mean we should forget how important and incumbent it is on us as Catholics to differentiate worldly, secular values opposed to the natural moral law, from those that are Catholic based on Christ’s teachings. To realize this doesn’t make one ultra pious or morally superior. It just makes us grateful to God for being given the (undeserved) grace to realize this essential truth. I pray you and LCWR realize it, too.

  9. Pancho Robles says:

    I see that these ladies, dressed in worldly clothes, use a great deal
    of “buzz” words often associated with left-wing propagandists.
    Will the world soon see these women wearing Roman collars and
    operating in the new-found secularism?
    Apparently many of these ladies do not take the vows they made
    seriously. Neither did many of their forebearers of the past – which may be why there are some 42,000 “branches” of Christianity today.

  10. Rich Stine says:

    However despicable the secular media can be at times, they are not at fault here. Our Church truly believes that the Sisters-Religious have need of monitoring, guidance? That the Catholic faithful women who stridently practice and uphold Church teachings, need safeguarded from temptations? Need to be told what to think?

    Even if: abortion is legal, pills available, birth control other than church approved method of timing is accessible –these things will not move those who are of the belief that these things are wrong. Women will not actively do what they are vehemently against, willingly. They do not need men to enforce their faith. Faith is a gift from God. When one is forced to abide by rules, it is no longer a choice. That is called Tyranny, and has nothing to do with Faith, only fear.

    Perhaps the wrong gender is in charge. It seems to be the men, the ones mantled with authority, who have a rather big problem with self-control.


    I’ve gone to quite a few Catholic websites, and read my e-newsletters.
    I’m appalled by the Catholic Media’s reluctance to make issues like these as important or relevant.

    Or is it just me?

  11. Lucille Hadden says:

    There is a need for great reform among the women religious in our country. I pray they allow Jesus to lead them there. They must choose between their own agendas and those of Christ and His Church. How many have been scandalized because of their failure to hold fast to what the Church teaches?

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