The Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy and the force behind Rome's investigation of American nuns has renewed his criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, downplaying the group's size and importance and arguing that the Vatican is trying to help them recover their religious identity so they don't die out.
"Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don't want to gobble up a woman a day!" Cardinal Gerhard Müller told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper, in the edition published on Monday.
Müller, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the newspaper that the sisters of the LCWR "do not represent all U.S. nuns, but just a group of North American nuns who form part of an association."
He added: "We have received many letters of distress from other nuns belonging to the same congregations who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which they" – members of the LCWR – "are steering their mission."
The LCWR is a leadership network of Catholic sisters that represents about 80 percent of the 50,000 nuns in the U.S. The group was established in 1956 with Rome's backing. But in recent years, as the American bishops became more conservative, they grew increasingly critical of the liberal tilt of the various congregations of sisters under the LCWR umbrella.