On the 18th of April in 2012, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the LCWR doctrinal assessment and mandate. The bishops' oversight of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was supposed to last 5 years -- until April 2017.
After liturgies on the Sunday following the mandate, April 22, 2012, outrage found voice in conversations among friends. Lay men and women were appalled that the Vatican -- which had by that time taken no strong steps to reform itself after the abuse scandals had surfaced -- had decided to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, US sisters whose lives are bright with God's active presence.
In some ways, that Sunday was the birthday of Solidarity with Sisters. In our parish and many others, conversations after mass led to our group's first meetings, to our May 29, 2012 rally at the Vatican Embassy, and to warm solidarity and permanent friendships with LCWR sisters.
Many of you have your own versions of 2012 experiences that led to unexpected good. So, my friends -- happy anniversary!
On April 16, 2015, the Joint Final Report formally concluded the implementation of the LCWR doctrinal assessment and mandate -- another happy anniversary! The bishops' oversight of LCWR ended early, thanks to LCWR's courage in creating space for genuine dialogue, and to the prayerful openness to God's presence that the bishops and sisters experienced together.
The past five years have held much more than we could have imagined in April 2012. And transformation continues.
Today LCWR officials are in Rome for their annual visit, looking forward to warm and constructive meetings this week with many Vatican offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They may well have opportunity to greet Pope Francis, too. Let's pray for our LCWR friends and for these meetings, that God's grace may flow freely and abundantly.
The mandate has been a catalyst for personal transformation for us in Solidarity with Sisters, and we pray that transformation will grow in us as it also spreads throughout the church and the world.
I'm eager to pay attention to our stories of transformation. We're taking them seriously and unfolding them together in Solidarity with Sisters. In them I'm sure we'll find seeds for the future, too. If you'd like to share any of your own stories, please let me know.