US & Canada

Vatican ends crackdown on 'radical' US nuns

Pope Francis meeting members of the LCWR on 16 April 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pope Francis met with members of the LCWR on Thursday

The Vatican has ended its controversial control of the main organisation representing US nuns.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious was under close supervision from Rome after being accused of undermining Catholic teaching.

The Vatican said the group's focus was now Christ and faithful teaching.

The sisters were accused of promoting "radical feminist themes", but they argued that they were simply trying to do their work with the poor.

After a meeting with Pope Francis, a delegation from the group said it was deeply heartened by his appreciation of the sisters' lives and ministry.

"Our conversation allowed us to personally thank Pope Francis for providing leadership and a vision that has captivated our hearts," they said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption LCWR building in Maryland

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took over the LCWR in 2012, before Pope Francis's papacy.

The group was accused of taking positions that subverted Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality.

Many US conservatives believed it was not focusing enough on issues such as euthanasia and abortion.

The Vatican called for a five-year overhaul that sought to fix a "grave" doctrinal crisis, and Rome appointed a bishop to supervise the rewriting of the LCWR's statutes. A final report on the overhaul was accepted by the Vatican on Thursday.

In a final joint report, the congregation and the LCWR said that the new statutes demonstrate the sisters' focus on Jesus Christ and being faithful to Church teaching.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSister Simone Campbell told the BBC in 2012 that she had "no idea what they're talking about," in reference to the accusations.

The report also said an advisory committee would be established to ensure the LCWR's publications were in line with church doctrine.

The takeover as well as a separate Vatican investigation into the quality of life of US nuns, has deeply wounded the US sisters.

The investigation concluded in December, and was sweeping in its praise of the sisters' work.

"Anything coming out of the Vatican this morning is nothing other than a fig leaf because they can't say 'oops' in Latin," Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University, said.

About 80% of the 57,000 Roman Catholic nuns in the US are represented by the LCWR.

More on this story