Top officials of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said their meeting at the Vatican in mid-June "was difficult because of the differing perspectives" they and the leaders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have.Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, LCWR president, and St. Joseph Sister Janet Mock, executive director, met with U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, and with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle June 12 to talk about the Vatican's ordered reform of the LCWR.The two officers returned to the United States and, on June 15, briefed the board members of LCWR, a Vatican-recognized umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women's communities as members and represents about 80 percent of the country's 57,000 women religious.In a statement posted on the LCWR website June 18 and later released to the media, the group said: "While the LCWR officers reported that they were able to express their concerns during the (Vatican) meeting with openness and honesty, they acknowledged that the meeting was difficult because of the differing perspectives the CDF officials and the LCWR representatives hold on the matters raised in the report" about the LCWR released by the Vatican in April.The report, a doctrinal assessment of LCWR programs and publications, was designed to assist the organization "by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the magisterium," the Vatican said in a statement.The doctrinal assessment had said a major reform of the LCWR was needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality.LCWR said in its June 18 statement said that since the assessment was released, some Vatican officials and U.S. bishops have publicly stated "the report is not a reflection on all U.S. Catholic sisters and is directed only to LCWR."However, the doctrinal congregation's actions "are keenly felt by the vast majority of Catholic sisters who have elected, and therefore feel a close identity with, their leaders," said the Silver Spring-based organization."Moreover, the statements and gestures of solidarity from men religious and from conferences of Catholic sisters in other countries, as well as the letters and petitions from thousands of lay supporters worldwide, indicate that many others are also concerned about how to live as people of faith in the complexities of these times," it added.Such concerns will be part of LCWR's "discernment of its response" to the congregation's report, it said.On June 14 in Rome, after the meeting between LCWR officials and Cardinal Levada, Archbishop Sartain said the Vatican-ordered reform was not directed at individual women religious nor is it a statement on the general quality of religious life today."The impression is given that the Holy Father or anybody involved is saying something negative about religious women in the United States, which is not the case," said the archbishop, appointed by the Vatican to oversee the reform.None of the parties has revealed details of what they discussed.In their June 18 statement, the LCWR officials said they would be giving no interviews on the meeting in Rome.They said members "will continue their careful, prayerful discernment in their geographic regions throughout June and July, and at LCWR's annual assembly in August," which is to be held in St. Louis.—CNS
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