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.
Plenty of people were outraged. The Vatican -- which had at that time taken no strong steps to reform church systems and practices, years after the abuse scandals had surfaced -- had decided instead to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, US sisters whose lives are bright with God's active presence.
In some ways, the Sunday after the mandate 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 those 2012 experiences. For all of us who rallied, wrote, prayed, and spoke, awareness took root.. We were (are) in powerful solidarity with LCWR and with each other, all over the USA and beyond.
Three years later, 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 two years early, thanks to LCWR's courage in creating space for genuine dialogue, and to the prayerful openness to God's presence that this created.
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.