There have also been letters from LCWR officers protesting the teaching of the Church regarding the inadmissibility of women's ordination, or the correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexuals, suggesting "that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church's teaching on human sexuality." Furthermore, sometimes "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith'' prevail in LCWR presentations and programs.
While the assessment notes that "while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church's social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States."
An Archbishop Delegate, Peter Sartain of Seattle, has been appointed to help the LCWR revise its statutes and programs to assure their adherence to Church teachings and discipline. "The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours" should have a place of priority in LCWR events and programs.
Doubtless this is a challenging time for the women in the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in the United States. Given the rich tradition of holiness and service that preceded them, however, they might want to think about imitating our Divine Master, who came "not to be served but to serve," and for whom "to serve is to reign." What would Mother Seton do? For that matter, what would our Blessed Mother say? Perhaps she already said it: "Do whatever he tells you." "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word."
Dwight G. Duncan is professor at UMass School of Law Dartmouth. He holds degrees in both civil and canon law.
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