When it comes to LCWR, the problem is Müller

This story appears in the LCWR CDF 2014 feature series. View the full series.

by Maureen Fiedler

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Here he goes again! Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has sounded off once more about the shortcomings of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Some of his comments this time are so off the mark, it's humorous. For example, he says LCWR members "do not represent all U.S. nuns, but just a group of North American nuns who form part of an association." Just a group? LCWR represents 80 percent of American congregations of women religious. That's four out of five, Cardinal Müller, not "just a group."

In an apparent attempt to appeal to the feminists among us, he says, "Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don't want to gobble up a woman a day!" That's really big of you, Cardinal Müller, but it's hardly the point. Women are not interested in evading your dinner table. We are interested in being your equals in the church and being treated as such. This phrasing is simply insulting.

And according to Müller, the Vatican wants to help the LCWR congregations "rediscover their identity" because he said the orders "have no more vocations and risk dying out." Really? Do you seriously think we will get more vocations if we take on the Vatican's conservative stance on contraception, abortion and LGBT rights and downplay justice and peace issues? Are you kidding? Come to the United States, Cardinal, and meet some of our young Catholics. They have great interest in justice for everyone: women, LGBT people, the poor, immigrants, etc. They are evolving new forms of commitment, many of them relating to religious orders of women as they do it.

And by the way, Cardinal Müller, have you heard about this new guy in Rome named Pope Francis? He emphasizes justice and peace and has asked us to downplay the sexuality issues. Isn't he your boss? Or some kind of model?

Yes, conservative congregations have some new postulants, but they also face a declining and aging membership just like more progressive congregations. And not all of those new postulants stay to make vows.

So the problem with LCWR is not LCWR -- it's Cardinal Müller. The time has come for a concerted grassroots campaign to urge Pope Francis to replace him, and the sooner, the better.

Cardinal Müller is destructive in his actions. He has to go. And for a replacement? May I suggest St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, who was honored at the recent LCWR assembly for her renowned work in theology?

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