The best resource for historical background in keeping up with this issue is the 2013 revision: Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal, of the seminal 1997 book by Ann Casey, Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women’s Religious Communities.
It is an ongoing effort, met with the usual tactics, as this article—by Ann Carey— from the National Catholic Register notes.
When the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met in its annual assembly Aug. 13-16 in Orlando, Fla., the main topic of business was how the sisters would respond to a 2012 mandate of reform from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The LCWR is a canonically erected superiors’ organization of nearly 1,400 sisters who are leaders of about 80% of the women religious in this country.
Interest in their 2013 assembly was heightened by the presence of the Vatican’s apostolic delegate charged with conducting the reform, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. He had offered to attend the LCWR 2012 assembly to discuss the mandate that had come out April 18 of that year, but had been told then by LCWR leaders that his presence “would not be helpful.”
This year, Archbishop Sartain addressed the entire membership in a closed session and fielded questions about the mandate from LCWR members. He also met with the LCWR’s 21-member national board during the first of three days of board meetings after the assembly closed.
However, the only decision announced by LCWR in an Aug. 19 press release was simply to continue talking with Archbishop Sartain and Bishops Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., and Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, who the Vatican appointed to assist him.
Now the question is: How long is the CDF willing to have the apostolic delegates continue those conversations when the LCWR has not yet agreed to any of the reforms mandated in the doctrinal assessment?
That eight-page mandate is very explicit and readily available on the Internet, even though some LCWR members have claimed that they don’t know the details of the document. Among issues identified in the mandate are areas of “corporate dissent,” “serious theological, even doctrinal errors,” various “theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father,” and commentaries that “undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”