The Vatican's investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not a ‘nunquisition,’ as one Time magazine writer has said, but an effort to renew the Church, according to a senior fellow with The Catholic Association. “Is there a great ‘Nunquisition’? No, there’s not,” Ashley McGuire told CNA Sept. 4. “That’s a total exaggeration. It’s just part of a bigger process that the Church regularly has to undergo to look into its various organs to make sure everything is doctrinally sound.” Author Jo Piazza, writing in an Aug. 31 essay for Time.com, contended that contemporary religious sisters are “dying and not being replaced” and that their work is not sufficiently appreciated by Church leaders. Piazza characterized as “attacks” the Vatican’s investigation of the LCWR. Vatican inquiries have reported a doctrinal crisis within the canonically-recognized group of U.S. women religious superiors. “Today’s nuns are simply too progressive for the Vatican. The Vatican chooses not to celebrate nuns and it chooses not to empower them,” Piazza said. McGuire rejected this claim. “I think the Church very much values the work of women religious,” she said, pointing to the U.S. bishops’ defense of the Little Sisters of the Poor against federal regulations that require them to violate Catholic teaching in their health care plans. She noted that the Conference of Major Superiors of Women, another U.S. organization for vowed religious leaders, has more novices in formation and is growing at a faster rate. “Young millennial women, especially those drawn to religious life, show growing attraction to traditional religious life where there is a strong emphasis on fidelity to the Church.” “Catholic women love the Church. Attacking Church teaching or attacking Church leaders is not what Catholic women are looking for.” McGuire compared the apostolic visitation to similar actions reviewing the state of seminaries and church architecture and liturgy in the U.S. Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reflected on the LCWR inquiry and the place of women in the Church in an interview published Sept. 1 in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper. He said the Vatican is working to reduce conflict with the LCWR and hopes to help them “rediscover their identity.” “We undoubtedly have a different conception of religious life, but we hope to help them to find their identity back.” The cardinal said the conference is “a group of North American nuns who gathered in an association,” and does not represent all U.S. nuns. “We have received many sorrowful letters from other nuns who belong to their same congregations and who suffer very much for the approach they give to their mission.” He noted that religious congregations with no more vocations “risk being extinguished.” Cardinal Mueller voiced thanks to Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who is overseeing the LCWR reform, describing him as “a very gentle man.” The cardinal criticized the present situation facing women in which, because of family breakdown, they must work more to educate and nurture their children. He also denounced “macho” culture. He described women as “welcomed collaborators” in diocesan offices, saying they “intensely collaborate with the life of the Church.” He said there are many women collaborating with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and not only secondary posts. He praised his personal secretary and other collaborators, almost all of whom are married with children.
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