Cardinal Levada “Won’t Go So Far” as to Say that LCWR Is Moving on Substantive Issues
Although Cardinal William Levada, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, goes out of his way to be cordial towards the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, one idea seems to bubble up repeatedly: the Vatican means business.
The interview seems to be Cardinal Levada’s response to the intense reaction—much of it from angry theologians or college professors—to Rome’s attempt to reform the LCWR. “Levada rarely gives interviews, and when he does, it’s because he has something to say, not because he simply enjoys the exercise,” Allen writes in the introduction.
Cardinal Levada says that a meeting earlier in the day with Sister Pat Farrell and Sr. Janet Mock, president and executive secretary of LCWR, had gone well. But then there is this exchange:
Did you pick up any indication of movement by the LCWR on the substantive issues in the assessment?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. They talked to us about what a great outpouring of support they’ve had for the sisters in the United States. I’d like to say a word about that, for clarity’s sake. This assessment is not about the sisters in the United States. It’s about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a coordinating and directive body that has a spokesperson’s role for 80 percent of the religious congregations in the States or so. It exists because of a canonical statute in which the Holy See invites them to do this work of coordination, in a way that’s in sync with the teachings of the church and the directives of the Holy Father. That’s the basic issue we discussed with them.
I think Bishop [Leonard] Blair did a very credible job with his investigative assessment and presenting it to LCWR and to us. I don’t accept these accusations about a lack of transparency or “unsubstantiated accusations.” This is not about people accusing LCWR of anything, it’s about observing what happens in their assemblies, what’s on their website, what they do or don’t do.
We talked a lot about dialogue today. That’s a big word with the LCWR. I shared with them my view that the nomination of a delegate to work with them is precisely about dialogue, especially someone with the qualities of Archbishop Sartain. I’ve known him for many years, and I have great admiration for his sense of faith and of ecclesial communion. I think he’s the best person to engage in this kind of dialogue.
My concern, however, is that we’ve been going through this assessment for four years, and so far not much has changed. Along the way we’ve seen, for instance, an “occasional paper” [published by LCWR] by Charlie Curran, or Barbara Marx Hubbard is invited [to address the 2012 LCWR assembly]. In some ways, and I used this phrase today, it seems to me like a dialogue of the deaf. Sometimes people have different images of dialogue. For some, dialogue is an end in itself, while for some of us it’s a means to an end. We’ll see what happens. I’m not able to play the prophet in this matter.
Asked if decertification could be the result if the LCWR doesn’t respond in a satisfactory manner, Cardinal Levada says simply, “It could be.”
Cardinals are rarely that frank. This interview seems to show that at some point LCWR must agree to reforms or find that there’s nothing left to be said.
Read the whole interview here: ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/exclusive-interview-levada-talks-lcwr-criticism-states