The Social Teaching and the LCWR

So the Congregation for the Doctrines of the Faith (CDF) had a great deal negative to say about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The part of the document from the CDF that got my attention, though, was the reference to the social justice activities of the LCWR. Here’s the pertinent text:

On June 25, 2010, Bishop Blair presented further documentation on the content of the LCWR’s Mentoring Leadership Manual  and also on the organizations associated with the LCWR, namely  Network and  The Resource Center for Religious Institutes. The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.  Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching.

This really needed to be said. Network was founded in 1971 by 47 sisters in the U.S. who wanted to create an advocacy group that lobbied Congress based on the social teaching of the Catholic Church.  On its website, they bill themselves as “A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.”

Well, during the last election, while Network and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Center of Concern were colluding to get Senator Obama elected president of the United States, I called up Network and asked them a simple question. If they are a Catholic Social Justice Lobby then do they lobby for the sIake of pro-life issues? I then stipulated that “pro-life issues” refers to abortion, euthanasia and embryonic destructive research. I got a simple, “No,” from the lady on the other line. It was followed up with the point that the U.S. Bishops already address those issues. Riiiiiight.

This practice of claiming the mantle of social justice while ignoring the most pressing issues of our time – and yes abortion is the most pressing issue of our time – has got to stop. When at an event in Omaha some years ago the head of the Center of Concern said that one can still be “pro-life and vote for President Obama” because all the issues of poverty were pro-life issues. When he was asked if he had anyone on staff who covered pro-life issues, he hemmed and hawed. Then he had to admit they did not.

I’m also glad the CDF included human sexuality under the social justice heading. It is a social justice issue and it sounds like the LCWR has not been fulfilling their duty here either. The parameters of the social teaching as it touches on the political issues we face is part of why started I imagine. All the better, then, that the Vatican’s CDF is being so clear about these matters.

We’ll see what change will look like for women religious in the U.S. and how all of this unfolds, but the upshot is hopefully that faithful articulations of the social teaching of the Church will flourish. Then perhaps we can get rid of the heretical drivel that usually passes for social teaching. And then we can avoid the mistaken view that a pro-abortion candidate that sees abortion as a fundamental right can be the real “social justice” candidate.



  • Chris

    It’s pretty interesting how the comment upvote/downvote system works. Whenever there are any comments critical of CatholicVote opinions, they get several dozen negative downvotes in a matter of a two or three minutes.

    Uhhhh…Nothing to see here. Nothing fishy at all…

    • John2

      I read the comments that were hidden because of dislikes; they were terrible.

      You can read them easily enough. You, too, will find them deficient in charity toward the millions of little dead ones.

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      Did it ever occur to you that many dislike your comments because we come to Catholicvote precisely because we are tired of dissenting voices like yours? Could that have anything to do with 24 dislike votes? If you don’t think Catholic Vote is fair to you, why do you keep coming back?

  • Teresa Trujillo

    The bible spells out how we are to live a Christian life. The apostles letters and the Acts are very forthright about what a Christian life is all about.

    Why do any of us believe that there is a “right” to government benefits (healthcare, welfare, etc.). I offer the following:

    1 Thessalonians 4

    Sanctification and Love

    Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you [by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

    Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

    Those Who Died in C


  • Henry

    And this site ignores Catholic teaching on human rights, including just war, torture, and unionization. Nice we all get to pick and choose, isn’t it?

    • Mary

      Yet again, sigh…..The site does not ignore any of the things you say, but has addressed all of them. Besides, stick to the subject at hand. Are you seriously for dismembering, decapitating, disembowling,and decorticating another human being in the womb? Just say yes or no, don’t cower behind platitudes or cloud the question with other issues. Are you for the ripping apart piece by piece of a genetically unique individual, (which we all are from the moment of conception) or not?
      Yes or NO? No ifs ands or buts and no “sometimes”, dear, because how are you going to decide it’s okay to brutally eviscerate this baby here, but not that one there. Either it’s okay or it’s not. Oh, yeah, and before you answer, see such textbooks as WIlson’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Congressional testimony regarding abortion “to save the mother”–there is NO SUCH OBSTETRICAL INDICATION. In other words, abortion itself NEVER saves the mother from death or illness–it is not a therapeutic procedure for the mother, and actually increases her risk of death.(see the sources above.)

      • Regina

        Whew, Mary! You go, girl!!

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      And apparently you don’t pick the life of the unborn as very important, right? So, how are you better than those you falsely accuse of not caring about other social justice issues?

  • Marsha

    Obviously, the LCWR doesn’t believe that “abortion is the most pressing issue of our time.” The issues they do support and believe in lead to less abortions by raising the standard of living for poor people. Is that so bad? Who are you to point a finger? These are women who may actually understand, better than you, what are the most pressing issues. It’s unfortunate that the Catholic Church doesn’t have women involved in setting the value hierarchy of the Church itself. What a significant omission.

    • Rob

      Unfortunately, we live in an age where the prevailing attitude is “no abortions for anyone, but oh, we’re also cutting children’s health insurance benefits for the impoverished. And go find a job, single moms!” Good luck!

      • Joe M

        You seem to be suggesting that potential difficulties raising a child is justification for killing them. Do you really think that murder is a less pressing problem than figuring out what the best balance of government healthcare is?

    • Mary

      @Marsha–sigh….I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll keep saying it. ABORTION IS BAD FOR WOMEN. There is absolutley NO justification in your statement that “the issues they do support and believe in lead to less abortions by raising the standard of living for poor people.” Please provide the statistical and sociological data to back up your assertion. I have mutliple studies that show that abortion not only leads to increased poverty (“Studies Suggesting That Induced Abortion May Increase the Feminization of Poverty” by Thomas W. Strahan, JD),but also increased morbidity and mortality for women. See: 1. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,Summer 2003 2. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology January 2004, 3. Southern Medical Journal Summer 2002, Summer 2003, 4. Breast Cancer Prevention Institute–(entire site examines abortion and contraception link to breast cancer.)None of these articles or sites are Catholic-based, but rather by scientists, physicians, lawyers, sociologists who are honest enough to publish the truth and not the FALSE politically correct line that many people, such as yourself continue to repeat in spite of its inaccuracy.
      The bottom line, my dear, is abortion IS the most pressing issue of our time,from all aspects, including the economic justice one you propose. It increases poverty, especially for women–see the excellent bibliography in the Strahan article above. Moreover, abortion and contraception go against justice in other ways, too–increase in fatherlessness among the babies who are born have increased and shown a temporal association to social acceptance of contraception and abortion, and fatherlessness has been linked to increased poverty, crime, domestic violence, child behavior problems, school drop out, teen suicide…I can go on, but you can see these sources in the bibs of the article provided yourself or merely google “cost of fatherlessness”.
      To get rid of dandelions in the lawn, you have to get to the root. To lessen the rates of poverty and social injustice, you have to get to THAT root, and it happens to be the contraception/abortion/sexual gratification society. The proof is there. Let’s stop throwing money after solutions that have been tried for decades that just don’t work. Increased budgets for abortion and contraception have had their chance. They’ve been a disaster. Time to clean house.

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      I believe that in the 1800s slavery was the most pressing issue of our time just like I believe that abortion is the most pressing issue of our time today. If one is not allowed to be born, for whom are we raising the standard of living? One need not raise the standard of living for dead people.
      Marsha, don’t you see that the cry for social justice sounds hollow if not outright hypocritical when activists claim they care about the poor, about the environment, about animals, plants, etc, but not about the unborn?

  • Bruce

    Social justice starts with marriage. Every child has a right to be born to a father and a mother.



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