Busted Halo
December 29th, 2012

Street Seekers: Standing With the Sisters

Busted Halo hits the streets and talks with people about the Vatican’s demand for reform of the LCWR


In 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (or LCWR), the largest association in the United States of leaders of Catholic nuns and sisters in religious communities. During its study of the LCWR, the Vatican office analyzed how Catholic doctrine was being addressed within the organization. This past April, the results of the investigation were revealed.

This week, as the LCWR is meeting to develop a response to the Vatican’s investigation, we’re here on the street asking Catholics who are marching to support the sisters what they think.

[Published on: May 31, 2012]

The Author : The Editors

See more articles by (437).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Jim

    I have been blessed to have been taught by the sisters – and to have worked for the catholic school system for 40+ years.I might have left the church years ago if it were not for my association with the nuns. When I felt I wasn’t worthy to be a catholic any lonner due to a letter written to the catholic world by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger regarding homosexuality, it was the siters who made me realize the words of Romans 8:”Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” I find it shocking and sad that the clergy, who represent such a large gay population, can remain silent on issues affecting their gay brothers and sisters.I find it equally appaling that they, who have witnessed the contribution of religious women as they have, can remain silent on this issue as well. GOD BLESS THE SISTERS…and thank kyou for shaping the lives of so many of us.

  • Anthony

    I like the idea of promoting and supporting the amazing and important work the sisters and nuns of our Church throughout the world are doing, and have done. What I don’t find useful is propping up this dichotomy that has been lifted of “hierarchical Church vs sisters.” Love BH, but between this and the HHS controversy, I can’t help but feel like we’re only hearing one voice that often misleads or fails to present the whole truth. This video doesn’t even attempt to explain what the LCWR is as distinct from religious communities and religious themselves. I think that’s unfortunate.

  • Victoria

    *that should be say not saw

  • Victoria

    Maybe I don’t understand all the details of this issue, but I read the document for myself and have kept up with reactions from various parties. The Sisters are not being attacked and looking at it this way is adding unnecessary division to our Church.

    As for Jesus questioning the authority figures – I believe he told people to do what they saw(aka follow the laws), but not do what they do. There’s a difference between questioning what the Church hierarchy does, and Church teaching.

    Also, Sisters/Nuns vow obedience to the Church and God.

  • Doug

    What a sad topic… All because there are Sisters who choose to disagree with the Bishops on matters of abortion and birth control and health care legislation. Maybe, the Sisters and Bishops should be less political and focus on doing Christ’s work rather than running around in talk shows. Saint Paul, who called Christians to resolve matters between themselves and not in secular settings, would be rolling over right now.

    Unfortunately, there is no positive outcome for some of the Sisters except to leave the Church they are vowed to.

  • Robert

    Margo – Throughout the history of the Church, there has always been a plurality of expressions of the faith, interpretations of scripture and tradition, and an evolving sense of the faithful that informs the tradition. I genuniely do not understand how one can reduce being a faithful Catholic to a set of doctrines to be accepted and assimilated without question. Faith is a dynamic reality integrated into one’s life experience in a given time and place, not a “deposit” of unchanging dogma inserted into history 2000 years ago and passed on like an heirloom. This kind of faith comes across more as a divisive political tool or a psychological defense mechanism from the moral complextities of adult life in the modern world.

  • Barbara

    I must admit that I preferred the nuns in habits, but I find that hard to see as a sign that they are not following the teachings of Christ. And clearly, they are supposed to be following the teachings of Christ, NOT the teachings of the church hierarchy.

    In their shoes, I would also be playing the political card in public – making no comment on the church hierarchy’s prehistoric position on birth control and homosexuality, and instead furthering the teachings of Christ of “feed my sheep, feed my lambs … do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    And, yes, I am a devout Catholic who has as much brains as the Pope and able to see clearly that we are not living during the time of Christ. There are too many issues that did not exist during His time and must be dealt with under today’s conditions. Every family forbidden to practice birth control and potentially having ten kids they can’t afford to care for and adding to the overcrowding of our planet which is in serious danger? I consider it a very irresponsible position to take in the 21st century.

    Don’t even get me started on homosexuality. A large number of our religious leaders are homosexuals too afraid to speak up for their true beliefs about how our Maker, Who makes NO mistakes, could have made a mistake in creating homosexual individuals. I continue to be faithful to Christ’s church, not to the “church” of our very fallible human and misguided leaders.

  • Laura Doty

    I agree with Lynn Steiden’s comments and I fully support the members of the LCWR- thanks to them for ALL they do.

  • Susan

    It seems that Jesus continually questioned the authority figures of Judaism of His day. The women religious also are questioning many of the authority figures of Catholicism of today. Jesus showed/preached loved. These Sisters show/preach love. Can we do less than support them?

  • Margo Basso

    I meant the general example of Blessed Theresa (not the Missionaries of Charity specifically).

  • Fr. Dennis

    Mother Teresa’s sisters are not part of LCWR. I am willing to be corrected by someone who knows, but I do not think any Missionaries of Charity (as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s sisters are called) are members of the LCWR. Let’s please be clear about which sisters we are talking about when we talk about the LCWR controversy.

    When we imagine, with nostalgia, some golden past where the nuns taught all the Catholic children, we run the risk of thinking that all nuns are the same, which has never been true. Vatican 2 did not actually call the sisters to ditch their habits and get with the times. Yet those orders that have tried to shake things up a bit and modernize are not, with some exceptions, really doing a lot of school teaching these days.

    To say that there is no difference between a Sister of Charity doing social justice work and a Missionary of Charity (a “Mother Teresa nun”) working with the poor and dying is to misunderstand a great deal. These distinctions matter, just as much to a Sister of Charity as to a Missionary of Charity.

  • Margo Basso

    I doubt that the Vatican has an issue with all the incredible ministries the sisters provide. Yes, taking care of the poor is fantastic and they should continue to follow in Blessed Mother Theresa’s footsteps. However, if they (or anyone else, laity or religious) want to consider themselves Catholic, they must be in FULL Communion with the Vatican and not reject ANY of the Church’s teachings. The sisters don’t have to stop their ministry, just stop rejecting Christ’s teachings and be a FULL example of Christ. What does being Catholic mean if not fully agreeing with the Church’s teachings?

  • Deblette

    There are religious who are obedient to the Church and to Jesus Christ and then there are those who are not. The leaders of the LCWR, are not.
    Vatican II never did away with habits. That was done at the initiative of some religious themselves. Go and read the documents and see what you find. The beautiful thing about nuns and sisters in habits are that they are showing the world by their very presence that they are brides of Christ. They are witnessing to being Catholic and followers of the Church. Those wandering around wearing sweatshirts that say,”nuns for choice.” are in no way faithful to Christ or the Church. One only has to look at the orders that are thriving and then look at the orders that are dying off, along with their liberal members to know which ones are being led by Christ. The LCWR is not Catholic anymore, which you could see if they hadn’t wiped all the evidence of their wanderings off their website as soon as this decision came out. Something the guilty do. Pray for these women because they have violated their vows to Christ. Pray for the faithful ones, that they can continue to grow in holiness as they serve their spouse.

  • Jane

    I recall the sisters teahing me to love all God’s children… a little song that had the words: “yellow, red, or black or white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” (or something like that.) It has been my approach to Social Justice all my life. The Sisters live a much deeper and sincere faith life than the Church Hierarchy today. We need some significant reform in the Catholic Church to address some really significant issues. Meanwhile, the sisters are LIVING Jesus’ commands.

    Personally, I choose to follow Mother Theresa’s example. Were she able to speak today, I think I know what her response to this would be!

  • Bill Martin

    First of all, this is a wonderful video. Thank you.
    Secondly, I tell everyone that I received the greatest education in the world; eight years of Mercy nuns then nine years of Jesuit education and finally three with the Dominicans. I am what I am today because they all taught me that working for social justice is the most important thing we could do. While the whole issue of life, conception to holy, peaceful, sanctified death is important, life lived with food, clothing, law, love and peace are so much more important than just one aspect how you did or did not come into this world.
    I lived through the debate about contraception only to have the committee’s conclusion thrown into the wastebasket. Where were all these calls for conservatism when the priests and bishops were covering up pedophilia. The sisters and nuns expand everyone’s thinking and should be allowed to go forward with the Churches blessing, not condemnation.

  • Susan

    The Sisters are the stronghold of Cathoilic education in America. Their mission to teach the gospel message of good news has been the saving grace of the Church! I thank God every day for the Sisters of Notre Dame who served our community with such faith filled love.

  • Steve

    Everyone in the video was talking about all of the wonderful things that women religious have done in the country. I haven’t heard anyone say that the Sisters should not continue to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, however. The complaints against the LCWR, which is a leadership organization under which many (a majority?) of American Sisters fall, largely deal with deviations from Catholic doctrine that are occasionally taught at LCWR conferences and events. What the CDF called for is a review of the plans, programs, events, and organizations connected to the LCWR in order to ensure that this Catholic organization accurately presents the Catholic faith.

    Perhaps I’m wrong (and I’m sure some people probably feel that I am), but I don’t see this report as a striking condemnation of nuns or their social justice work. Those on both the extreme left and extreme right often create a false dichotomy between social justice and pro-life work. There is no reason to say that to feed the hungry is a neglect of the unborn, or that to pray outside an abortion clinic is to neglect the poor. As Christians, we are called to do whatever we can to spread Christ’s love throughout the earth, whether that is visiting the imprisoned or lobbying Congress to pass abortion restrictions.

  • Liz

    Thanks for this…I’m sad I wasn’t in NY when this was going on! It’s so good to see people showing courage and caring so deeply about their Church and their faith!

  • Lynn Steiden

    Vatican 2 asked the nuns to come out of their habits and get more involved in the world doing Christ’s work as he commanded. Nuns have been martyred in their work for the Lord as they feed the poor, shelter the homeless, work for peace and justice, minister to the dying as it is written in Matthew 5-7 and 25. What does a habit have to do with anything? Why not work on fullfilling the wishes of Vat 2? Why are we focusing on this with all the scandals coming out of the Vatican, the numbers leaving the Church (ex-catholics are the #2 religion in the US? Does the Vatican trying to push us away from the more important things like the pedophile trials, the banking scandal, shuffling money from Peter’s Pence to pay for the victims of pedophiles. I am tired of this man thumping on the chest wanting to take us back to the middle ages. God bless all the Sisters, in and out of habit. I stand behind the 57,000 strong sisters of the LCWR. Why is the Church so afraid of women? After all, Jesus’ commandment was very simple: Love one another as I have loved you.” Why is the Church so preoccupied with sex and women? Pro-life they cheer for–but they forget that the death penalty, children dying from hunger and aids….Are those not right to life issues? I choose to follow Jesus, not the Vatican who need to clean their own house up first.

  • Fr. Dennis

    A few points. About 27 seconds into the video, in the photo montage at the beginning, when Vicki was explaining the issue, she included a photo of what looked like Nashville Dominicans at prayer. But the Nashville Dominicans and groups like them are not part of the LCWR. Most news stories have been doing this kind of thing for weeks now, explaining the Vatican “crackdown” on US nuns, and then showing pictures of women in habits. Yes, showing nuns in habits is appealing because it visually sends a signal that we are talking about nuns. The difficulty with this story, though, is that it’s not the nuns in habits that are being reformed. They’re being left alone.

    Vicki’s best question: “Have any nuns had any specific impact on your life?” Excellent question. Drawing people out on their own experience. That’s a great way to tell a story.

    Another good question would be: “If membership in the LCWR congregations is dwindling (and we know that it is), what kind of reforms would you like to see to help the sisters thrive once again?” That’s a question that I haven’t seen asked in any of the stories on this important topic.

powered by the Paulists