National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

A surprisingly civil discourse on the LCWR crackdown

 |  NCR Today

This week on "Interfaith Voices," we cover -- what else? -- the Vatican crackdown on LCWR, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. It begins with Laurie Goodstein, the veteran national religion correspondent for The New York Times, who lays out the facts of the case.

Then we host a debate. One side is represented by Ann Carey, a conservative Catholic laywoman who supports the Vatican. Back in 1997, she published a book called Sisters in Crisis: the Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities.

Supporting the nuns is Mary Hunt, a feminist theologian and a co-founder and co-director of WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual.

Two things struck me as the debate moved along. First, unlike much of our public "discourse" in the political arena, this debate was civil, respectful and even humorous at times.

Second, underneath the two viewpoints are two radically different visions of church, of Catholicism, of contemporary religious life. Ann uses a "corporate model" to describe what CEOs in business -- or church -- need to do when dissent is afoot, for example, move in to stop it. Mary uses a "co-op" model where dialogue is the norm and says this LCWR "moment" may be a tipping point toward a "lay-led" church.

Reese_eBook-bigger.jpgWant to explore Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment? Check out Tom Reese's eBook offering thoughtful questions and in-depth analysis. Get it today!

And yes, as you can imagine, I had a hard time remaining the "neutral" interviewer. But I tried my best. This is public radio, after all.

So, if this story grabs you, tune in at

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

February 12-25, 2016


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.