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Catholic Nun Group Rejects Vatican Report That Found Them Afoul Of Doctrine

American nuns attend Mass at Sant'Apollinare in Rome.
Andrew Medichini
American nuns attend Mass at Sant'Apollinare in Rome.

The board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents most nuns in the United States, rejected a report from the Vatican that found they were running afoul of church doctrine.

The report, which among other things expressed concerned about the group's "radical feminism," was issued in April and ruled that an American archbishop would bring the nuns back in line.

"Board members concluded that the [Vatican] assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency," LCWR said in a statement. "Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization."

LCWR issued the statement after a three-day meeting in Washington. It said that in June the LCWR president and executive director will meet with the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to "raise and discuss the board's concerns."

After that meeting, "the conference will gather its members both in regional meetings and in its August assembly to determine its response to the CDF report."

CBS News reports that this is not the "most dramatic" path the group could have followed.

"There had been internal calls for the LCWR to disband as a Vatican-chartered organization and to regroup later as a Catholic nonprofit organization," CBS reports. "At the same time, this is not quite the prayerful discussion the Vatican had ordered the nuns to begin with a group of U.S. Bishops."

Since the Vatican's reprimand, the nuns have received an outpouring of support, including candlelight vigils that happened across the country this week.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.