As I see it, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which gathers next week in New Orleans, faces a bleak choice: either die or survive at a great cost to its integrity and dignity.
The Vatican has thrown down the gauntlet. The choice is stark: acquiesce to a “doctrinal assessment” of leadership conference views -- on women’s ordination, the primacy of Roman Catholicism and homosexuality – or reject the probe as an unwarranted fishing expedition bent on putting the organization out of business.
What we have here, I believe, could be the last major struggle over a way of understanding what it means to be Catholic. Sisters have retained more of Vatican II ethos and spirit than any group in the church, in the face of formidable opposition to large segments of it by the last two popes.
If Rome succeeds in wrecking this last organizational remnant of Vatican II, then all of American Catholicism suffers a great loss. Yet the will to resist appears to have dissipated. Without active protest, LCWR, as it’s been known, will exist no more. Voices of appeasement who counsel trust in Vatican intentions sound sadly out of touch with Rome’s hard line aims.