Leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -- which represents about 80 percent of America's 57,000 nuns -- met with top Vatican doctrinal officials this week, due to the Vatican's concern that the LCWR was not being critical enough against gay marriage, abortion, and women priests.
In fact, the Vatican went so far as to say last month that many LCWR nuns made "serious doctrinal errors" and embraced "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith."
These are serious accusations by the Vatican against the LCWR and its leaders. Nonetheless, we support the Vatican in its criticism of the LCWR and its leaders.
At the Vatican-LCWR meeting this week, it was agreed that the LCWR "remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See." In other words, the LCWR was given very little if any authority to make any independent changes in its operation.
When a woman becomes a Catholic nun, she relinquishes some of the rights she previously may have enjoyed in her secular life. She should also become an unyielding supporter of the doctrine of the Catholic Church -- even if she personally does not agree with it -- and she must unequivocally abide by the rulings of the Catholic clerical hierarchy.
Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church has never allowed a union -- or a professional association such as the LCWR, for that matter -- to use its clout in an effort to implement church policies sought by nuns or any other group. Needless to say, it will not do so today either.
The LCWR should know better than to support ecclesiastical policies -- such as abortion, gay marriage, and women priests -- that are in direct contrast of Catholic Christian doctrine. Indeed, it must not be the role of the LCWR to try to instill its own preferential ideas into Catholicism; rather, it must follow and abide by the centuries-long traditions of the Catholic Church.
Moreover, the LCWR must recognize the fact that the primary role of nuns is to promote the teachings of Christ and to enhance Christianity around the world.
It is essential, then, that nuns keep in mind that their own ideas, needs, and priorities must always be transcended by the teachings of Christ and by traditional Catholic Christian doctrine.