Cardinal Müller, the LCWR, the Doctrinal Assessment: The other side of the story…


On April 30, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, made some opening remarks at the Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The meeting focused upon the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, especially the revision of the LCWR’s Statutes and civil by-laws.

Remember that the Doctrinal Assessment was made necessary by the LCWR’s theological positions which indicated the organization was entertaining if not promoting theories beyond the boundaries of the Catholic faith. The goal was that the LCWR would reflect more explicitly the mission of a Conference of Major Superiors as something centered on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Church’s teaching about Consecrated Life and so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.

As Cardinal Müller noted in his opening statement:

We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

The remainder of Cardinal Müller’s opening remarks address those two judgments made. In his own words:

It is my intention in discussing these things frankly and openly with you to offer an explanation of why it is that we believe the conclusions of the Doctrinal Assessment are accurate and the path of reform it lays before the LCWR remains necessary so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.

Anyone who reads Cardinal Müller’s remarks objectively and carefully will see that he is not “playing poker” with the LCWR. Although gracious and respectful, the Cardinal was not bluffing as he carefully details, point by point, how the LCWR has been less than fully responsive to the Doctrinal Assessment and what its leadership needs to do. Without drawing a line in the sand, Cardinal Müller intimates there is a line in the sand when he concluded:

The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.

Read the entirety of Cardinal Müller’s remarks because they are very important. They represent “the other side of the story,” the one that the National Catholic Reporter isn’t telling except by negative example.  The simple fact is that the LCWR is in error theologically. Despite the image they may want to project, these are not the sisters whose heroic witness over the generations in U.S. Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service agencies is seared upon the memory of those many Catholics and non-Catholics alike their predecessors once selflessly served. These sisters are promoting an ideology that is beyond the boundaries of the Catholic faith.




To read the text of Cardinal Müller’s remarks, click on the following link:

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  1. I couldn’t get the Vatican site to load, but I found the text on a site called “A Priest’s Life”. Wow. Muller might as well have been beating them with a pool cue while he gave that address (and I mean that in a good way).

  2. I hope the apostates and heretics repent, but I am doubtful. They would rather heroically support Democracy in the Church than to submit to a Patriarchal authority whom they despise.

  3. It would have helped greatly if Cardinal Mueller had specifically mentioned that the teachings of Teilhard de Chardin have already been condemned by the Church on several occasions. The theme of Conscious Evolution that the Cardinal mentions finds its strongest support in Catholic circles from the errors of Teilhard. Many people are totally unaware of the Church’s past attempts at warning the faithful about him, and he is still being taught to seminarians (though the Church has explicitly forbidden this) as some sort of misunderstood prophet. I imagine the same thing then is also going on in convents.

  4. Teilhard de Chardin’s thinking -it should be known – was not his own origination, but that of a Russian philosopher.

  5. As the old proverb goes-the ball is now in the LCWR’s court. They have been off the reservation for years. This is the last opportunity for them to get back into ‘the game’

  6. One of the truly bizarre thinkers mentioned in the Doctrinal Assessment under whose sway the LWCR have fallen is the chillingly “visionary” futurist, Barbara Hubbard Marx, who calls herself a “Conscious Evolutionist”. In her own words, she says:

    “In traditional religious language, we were created in the image of God and are becoming ever more godlike. In evolutionary language, we were created by the process of evolution and are becoming coevolutionary with that process. In cocreation we bring forth two strands — our spiritual essence and our scientific and social capacities — to participate in the creation. When these strands blend, a new human is born: a universal human, a cocreator, a unique and personal expression of the divine.

    The most fundamental step on the path of the cocreator is a new spirituality in which we shift our relationship with the creative process from creature to cocreator — from unconscious to conscious evolution. Through resonance with the metapattern that connects us all, we learn to take responsibility for our part in the creation of our own evolution.” (

    Once again, like Genesis 1-11: Man (or Womyn) seeks to become God.

  7. How much “cocreation” will be required for man to become infinite? No matter how much cocreation man can work, man’s destiny can never be infinite.
    I read Chardin fifty years ago, but did not understand him until now. Thank you, Danielle and Steve Phoenix.

  8. I’m a fan of the political philosopher Eric Voegelin, whose whole academic career was seemingly spent in the sisyphean task of convincing the world that a resurgent gnosticism had, since the mid nineteenth century, come to pose the greatest threat to civilization since the Church beat it back in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

  9. wow-
    “My concern is whether such an intense focus on new ideas such as Conscious Evolution has robbed religious of the ABILITY truly to SENTIRE CUM EKKLESIA. To phrase it as a question, do the many religious listening to addresses on this topic or reading expositions of it EVEN HEAR the DIVERGENCES from the Christian faith present?”

    wow- I appreciate his frustration here with this group. Trying to be as nice as he can, explaining patiently and thoroughly- but that quote says it! My emphasis added

  10. I hadn’t heard of Eric Voegelin before Ernst, but the point you say he makes about the huge problem of gnosticism sounds right to me!

  11. For an able defence of Teilhard de Chardin’s orthodoxy, one should read Cardinal Henri de Lubac’s “The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin.” It should be read together with the review of it in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s “The Theology of Henri de Lubac.”

    For Balthasar, “God’s plan of creation completes the edifice that has been begun by Christ, who is the keystone and who integrates into his mystical or eucharistic body all persons (who let themselves be inserted into his universal person). The world is ‘thus held together ultimately only from above.’ Evolution, as coherent, only becomes possible through what comes last, the omega of evolution. It is the final synthesis that explains everything, and Teilhard attempts to build up his ‘proof of God’ by starting here . . . The entire universe attains its real, substantial footing ultimately only in the person of the God-man.”

    I am not concerned to defend Teilhard himself, as to point out that two of the greatest theologians of the last century were able to read him in an orthodox sense.

  12. One of the great Catholic theologians of our day, Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote at some length, and favorably, of Chardin in his master work, Introduction to Christianity. Discussing the concept of the Body of Christ, the future Pope Benedict wrote “It must be regarded as an important service of Teilhard de Chardin’s that he rethought these ideas from the angle of the modern view of the world and, in spite of a not entirely unobjectionable tendency toward the biological approach, nevertheless on the whole grasped them correctly and in any case made them accessible once again.”

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