Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is an organization of American Roman Catholic Nuns, that offers support, education services, and outreach to the members and their congregations. It represents roughly 80% of the 55,000 nuns in the United States. The organization was formed in 1956, by Pope Pius XII, and has emphasized social issues like poverty and homelessness. They have also advocated the church revise its unbending stance on issues of masturbation, homosexuality, and abortion, all in direct conflict with Catholic teachings.[1] The Conference formally disagrees with the Holy See on issues of birth control, emphasizing the importance of women being able to control the size of their families for both economic and personal health reasons. The Conference also disagrees with the Holy See on the ordination of women.[2]

Under Pope Benny, the Vatican wanted the nuns to support the Church's stance on abortion, birth control, and homosexuality,[citation needed] though the women disagree with the Vatican over these issues.[3] In 2012, Cardinal William Levada began a formal investigation into their activities, expecting the Holy See to renounce its support of the Conference if they did not formally change their positions on these social issues.[4] As of August 2012, the nuns had not responded to male overseers as the Vatican would like.[5]

Since the religious women are further concerned about economic justice and poverty,[6] they hoped Pope Francis would be more sympathetic. At first, Francis seemed to be siding with Cardinal Muller, the main critic and bugbear of the LCWR.[7] However, in April 2015, Pope Francis met with the sisters and effectively, all charges were dropped with enough "compromise" to save face. In particular, the male supervision of the LCWR has ended and the women have promised some (hopefully minor) changes the Vatican wants.[8]

The LCWR were given the Herbert Haag Prize in 2013 for Freedom in the Church.[9]