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April 19th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Vatican blasts American nuns, calls for reforms

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - The Vatican is turning up the heat on a group of nuns it says are operating outside of the Roman Catholic Church's doctrines.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the church’s doctrinal watchdog, on Wednesday announced the conclusion of a years-long “doctrinal assessment” investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80% of the Catholic nuns in the United States.

The “assessment reveals serious doctrinal problems,” said the report, which called for major reforms.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith appointed Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle to institute those reforms.

The report singled out a Washington, DC social justice group called Network, which is run by nuns and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes, which assists members with financial and legal resources.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The Vatican report, made public by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the doctrinal assessment began in part because of the group’s dissent on the Holy See’s teaching on the ordination of women and human sexuality.  The Catholic Church ordains only men to be priests and says sex is to be reserved for between a man and woman who are married in the eyes of the church.

The assessment said that a Leadership Conference of Women Religious conference yielded “manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors,” that went unchallenged.   It also said the event promoted “radical feminism”and decried the “prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR...”

While the assessment praised the social justice work of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Network and the Resources Center for Religious Life, it said the groups were “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death” and on the Church’s view on “family life and human sexuality.”

The report also took note of public statements from the nuns that opposed the Catholic Bishops. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Network vocally disagreed with the Bishops' conference's position on the Affordable Care Act, which they supported and the Bishops did not.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith called the current doctrinal and pastoral positions of the groups “grave and a matter of serious concern,” because of the global influence of the groups.

Pope Benedict XVI approved the request from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to intervene and the implementation of their recommended changes, the doctrinal office said in its assessment.

Some of the changes to come include a revision of the LCWR statutes, a review of programs including their annual general assembly, and a review of their ties with Network and Resource Center for Religious Institutes.

Cardinal William Levada, a former Archbishop in the United States and now the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, said in a statement that the the Vatican process is aimed at “fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities.”

The sisters, for their part, expressed surprised at the findings. “Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise," the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said in a statement.

"This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church," the statement continued. "We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (1,705 Responses)
  1. Lewis Keseberg

    Methinks that the pope and his lackeys need some more Jesus-blood to help them chillax a bit.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Gort1

      the old man should shut up!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  2. Alex Povolotski

    What reforms? Christianity is a dying religion. Just take a look at the decline of Christianity in recent decades and the widespreading of Islam as an example.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  3. John

    I wish all non-Christians either converted or die..... when I look at non-Christians it makes me throw up

    April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Adam

      You're outnumbered nearly 3 to 1. So don't choke on it.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by "John" contains instances of the ad hominem fallacy and the the circ-umstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      April 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • MK

      That's very christian of you.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Wizard

      Have you asked yourself whether this view of yours is in harmony with what it is to be Christian?
      Do you recall what Christs greatest commandment was? If so how do you justify the statement 'love one another' with this view?

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      JESUS, PLEASE........SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS

      April 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Magic Jew

      That's the spirit. Now if you actively go about it, you'll actually be following your Bible!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Gort1

      that's funny....I have the same reactions to christians

      April 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • longtooth

      Yes, that's what Jesus said. Oh... wait....never mind.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      @ John...............
      Just asking.........any chance your last name is Hitler, just wondered I'm Jewish.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • GodPot

      "That's very christian of you." Sadly, looking at the history of Christianity that is a very accurate statement. Christianity has moved itself so far from the original intent of being Christlike it would be like followers of MLK promoting re-segregation and marching to washington dressed in KKK hoods wearing golden nooses or rifles around their necks.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • TR6

      “When I look at non-Christians it makes me throw up”

      Just another example of Christianity’s ever increasing impotency. A few hundred years ago you could have burned us as the stake instead of just throwing up

      April 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Wizard

    The Catholic Church and all other religions are organizations run by people who are by their nature, not perfect. As such, one shouldn't accept the rules of any religion without common sense questioning. Christ himself cause a major ruckus in the Temple, and we shouldn't be afraid to do the same.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  5. prophet

    the vatican is not evil, most of the clergy are, sorry i hoped you would realise i wasn't just refering to the building.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  6. Rob

    it's obvious from all the sarcastic, hate-filled remarks here that most responders know little of the Catholic Church, nor even of Christianity or history. Rightly does the scripture say: "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.'.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is an instance of a Suppressed Evidence fallacy and a case of Willed Ignorance.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • MK

      Wrong!!! How many bloggers on here are ex-catholics??

      1. Me

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Zog, Caveman Extraordinaire

      HA HA HA HA HA!

      What else would a bunch of con-artists write?
      "In the end times a bunch of honest people who can see through our lies will be seen going to and fro and we say they are bad and do not listen to anything they tell you about our lies."

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Ms

      It is clear that religions divide the society.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Alyssa

      WRONG! I went to 16 years of Catholic schools (yes, including college) and am an ex Catholic. I even spent SEVERAL years as a catechist teaching children all the way up to confirmation classes! I am WELL versed on EVERYTHING Catholic. My husband and I just got TIRED of the crap and found a new church 🙂 The problem isn't that 'we' are uninformed- it's that we ARE informed and just do NOT buy it ANYMORE!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Ben

      Wrong, "In the last time, there shall be pedophile priests who prey on the young and weak, while attempting to cover up their evil actions by lashing out at women and non-believers."

      Hmmm, sounds like the Republican Party

      April 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      YOU........... may want to reflect and pray for what type of Spirit the Pope truly has and communicates.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Wizard

      Ex-Catholic, Yep, me too. Today I visit many churches and have the freedom to explore many scriptures not in the regular bible. I have found this to be MUCH more enriching spiritually.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  7. prophet

    what i would say to anyone who is against these religions, pick up a bible and read It for yourself and not listen to the chrsitians. Find out for yourself. The vatican etc just know how to use the bible to manipulate and decieve people but the writings in the bible can be made sense of to those willing to understand what really all this is about.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, read the bible, that evil book of horrors, to get a true sense of what Christian god apparently demands of Christians. Some pretty sick demands, like this bunch:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes your sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      April 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • TR6

      I didn’t really become an atheist until after I started reading the bible. I didn’t get very far. Man there is nasty stuff in those first 5 books. Evil, war, genocide, fratricide, ince$t, adultery, patricide, r_ape, child mole$tation and slaughter of the entire population of entire cities (every man, woman, child and even animal) in city after city … and that was the good guys, with god’s blessing.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  8. marcia

    The Catholic Church is such a #$%^$ mess. Priests are molesting children but the Pope is worried about some nuns! What a pompous jerk. And just for the record...the Pope is not the voice of God...the pople is the voice of centuries of corruption and shame!

    April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Mike

    These women are disegenuous. They knew perfectly well what they where doing. If they are shocked at all, they are shocked that the historically cowardly NCCB actually took steps against them.

    They took the money and the good faith of their supporters and squandered it. These orders in this "coven" are dying off, and good riddence to them. The only orders that are growing are habited, obedient,and focused. And that is a quantifiable fact. Pax et bonum!

    April 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • j

      Yeah...this women are just terrible!! But, boy,those pedofile priests are just great...aren't they Mikey!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      OBIEDIENT..........Dear Lord, who let you out of your cave, these are humans. The only one we are obiedient to is GOD.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      You must have forgotten your medications today...............or need to seek mental health services. This is no joke !

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  10. john

    They blast radical nuns but move, hide, and protect pedophile priest and when that don't work they blame the victims. The Catholic Church is the poster child for hypocrisy, misogyny, and is morally bankrupt.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mike

      Every time you point a finger, you have three pointing back at yourself. 🙂

      April 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • GodPot

      @Mike – um, really? You are going to go with childish when the comment was chastising them for being child ra pists?

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • MaryM

      Give it up Mike, you are your pedo preist are done, done, done.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  11. joe dokes

    I wonder how the holy father is going to handle the coming split of the American Catholic Church that he will have helped create. He deserves what he gets. Ignoring the actual teachings of Jesus Christ to suit Rome's political agenda is deplorable beyond belief. The Pope will get an idea of what King George III felt like when he lost the American colonies.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • sarah

      Are you asking how he will handle Lutherans? Sorry... but the Catholic Church has "split" more times than can actually be counted. People just stop being Catholic and become something else. It happens every day.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  12. emm

    I consider myself a recovering Catholic. But I was moved when my mother, an oblate who led a truly spiritual life, told me "the church is the people, not some old geezers."

    April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  13. prophet

    the catholic religion exists because if it didn't what would be instead, the muslims and that is worse. They kill their own people syria etc. The catholics did it years ago but they grew out of it, they evolved, but the muslims have become more evil and perverse. If there was any truth in that the leaders would not try to bomb their people. The vatican is the choice even though it is evil as well.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jim

      The Vatican is not evil.

      LOL

      April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      I believe the topic is about the Pope, not making excuses for the behavior or creating diversions. The judgement is Gods, not any humans.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  14. Louisa

    Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here on CNN blogs are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Hitler (Denied his faith later), Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are Atheists/Agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    † † Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator † †

    PS! the USA is a Christian nation and will always be.
    http://rightremedy.org/tracts/7

    April 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • ZoeyJ

      I would leave the judging of others to GOD......................

      April 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator" You prayers never leave the confines of your deluded mind. It's just so sad to see such late stage dementia being proudly exposed, but it's good of you to exhibit these signs so that those around you might be able to notice and get you to a mental health professional.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • sandalista

      Too bad you are an atheist too, Lousa. Or do you believe in Ra, Zeus, Athena and thousands of other Gods? Atheists just believe in ONE God less than you do.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • MK

      Do you even know a single atheist???

      April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • marcia

      you are a @#$%#$% jerk! It's people like you that make atheists of others!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Brian

      Was it Athiests who flew the planes into the twin towers? Just askin

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Brian

      Further religious people don't believe in morality either just talkin about it not live it

      April 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • BirdTurgler

      The bible is right because it says it is right.
      Read it for yourself...it confirms its own correctness by saying it is correct. Now how can you argue with that.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • sarah

      Hate is railing against people simply because they don't agree with you and you're terrified they might be right. If you were confident in your faith, you wouldn't be worrying so much about what other people are thinking and living your life without hate.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Larry L

      You are one sick puppy...

      April 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      Atheists seem to like to respond to any article about Christianity. But it's always the same few, who choose hell over life, that respond. Their free choice, but no reason to try and convince others that it's a good choice. It's rather like watching them dump their garbage on the web for validation. There is no validation for them or their comments.

      The Nuns' vows, although made in the Catholic Church, are vows between them and Jesus. If they believe that Jesus is going to say "well done", then there's not much to be said until He tells them that indeed it was not well done and failed to represent Him.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Erik

      After reading your blathering post, I just became an atheist...thank you!

      April 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • MaryM

      Louisa, give it up you and your religion are DONE!!

      April 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  15. jk in MN

    I think the Pope should really think about What would Jesus do. I THINK he would be more focuses on helping the poorrather than worrying about contraception rights or gay marriage. This stuff – from a church that looked the other way for years as it's own priests were engaged in inapproriate behavior with minors. Oh, the Hypocracy!

    April 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jim

      In reality, the help of the poor goes on daily.
      The other two items are "big picture" issues and is one of the major things the church is for – to help guide humans

      April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • GodPot

      "engaged in inapproriate behavior with minors" Telling a child dirty jokes is inappropriate behavior. Let's call this what it really is please, CHILD R A P E.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  16. ZoeyJ

    Is the doctrine, believes and agenda which the Pope communicates truly the word of God...............That is for God to decide and God will................

    April 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  17. Not a baby factory

    The RC Church only sees women as good for one thing – baby factories. Years ago when my mother lost her ability to have more children to cancer the RC turned it's back on her. Not once while she was in the hospital before and after her surgery did the reisdent priest come to visit her, even though she listed herself as Catholic. However, several of the other faiths represented at the hospital did come by to give their blessings and prayers. Time for the Church to wake up an realize that if they continue to push away women and treat them as anything less than equal in the eyes of God that they will find themselves all alone with no renewal of followers.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Thomas

      I'm sorry no one from the Church came to visit your mother in the hospital. You really should have spoken with someone at her church, a pastor or deacon, about coming to visit her. Most Catholic churches have ministries that help people in times like this.
      As for pushing away women you really should check out a Catholic Chuch and see who is running the show behind the scenes. I would guess that other than the priest or deacon 95% of a local Church staff is female. Women usually run the office, financals and education classes. The Church does not see women as "baby factories", women serve a very important role in the faith of the Church. I would encourage you to learn more about the Catholic faith.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jim

      Grow up

      April 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  18. J Bee

    I would really like to understand Catholocism and what it means and its true purpose in life but I cannot find anyone or any resource that is willing to dumb it down for me. I guess I'll stay quiet, keep my fingers and mouth shut and not make judgements against the religious fundamentalists who are quick to judge me because I am not like them.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Joe

      There's an (excellent) app for that! "Answers for Catholics". It's designed for Catholics and non. Very user friendly. See also http://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-questions.html

      April 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Thomas

      Go to the nearest Catholic Church and ask to speak with someone in the Religious Education department or a priest or a deacon. Set up a time to meet with them so you can discuss your questions.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • MK

      Being an ex-catholic of 30 years, when you ask questions, this is what you will get for answers:

      It was god's will...
      We don't understand it, we just believe it...
      Because the bible says so...
      Because the pope says so...
      Because the priest says so...
      Because you could go to he-ll...now get back in that pew and get down on your knees, sinner.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Adam

      Google "transubstantiation," and get a little taste of the lunacy.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Alyssa

      MK- coming from 16 years of Catholic schools (yes, including college) I had a GREAT laugh when I read your post! SOO TRUE. OMG....HOW TRUE! NEVER had it explained better! As for the REAL answer? that APP is a good place to start. Another is Wikipedia. Type in Catholic. It will give you a good history and info on what they believe. (I say THEY, because we joined another church a few years back after being TIRED of the Catholic church dogma)

      April 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Alyssa

      transubstantiation- YUPPERS! The idea that when the priest does prayers during communion (where they are given bread/wafers) that the wine and bread actually DOES become the body and blood of christ. THIS is why you have to have received the sacrament of 1st communion IN the catholic church in order to receive it. You are not supposed to come from another faith and partake in it. The Catholics actually BELIEVE that GOD along with the priest CHANGE the bread and water into the body and blood (bread of life) into the REAL thing. I admit it is sorta wacko but we ALL believed it!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Pneuma

      "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink". – John 6:55

      In Christ's own words. His flesh and blood is true food and drink in the form of bread and wine.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      like rain dances change the weather .

      April 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • longtooth

      I see your comment frequently, and assume you are sincere. Rationally, prayer can only help the one who prays, making them more focused and at peace. It will not change the world. Let me know if that changes. In the mean time, bless you for trying.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  20. tomnikoly

    Sounds like those nuns should do what Christians have done through the ages....if you don't like the church's policies, start your own sect.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • martel

      You're saying the nuns should engage in sects-ual acts?

      April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Mike

      Could not state it more correctly. If you believe the Roman Catholic Church is the true church then doctrines and council is followed. Because you decide to not want this and wish for something different....sorry it is not your church to change. Period. Start your own church on your beliefs and don't take another parish coffers with you.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jim

      yes, get your OWN funding and start your OWN crazy sect

      April 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • brett

      they would do better if they did

      April 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.