Especially critical (significant) was the paragraph included below by Cardinal Mueller which I have emboldened. To my mind, it is the heart of the CDF's conclusions regarding US women's institutes of consecrated life. It reads: “At the conclusion of this process, the Congregation is confident that L.C.W.R. has made clear its mission to support its member Institutes by fostering a vision of religious life that is centered on the person of Jesus Christ and is rooted in the tradition of the Church. It is this vision that makes religious women and men radical witnesses to the Gospel, and, therefore, is essential for the flourishing of religious life in the Church”.
The most significant and painful accusations made by the CDF at the beginning of this mandate cast doubts on the faithfulness of US ministerial women religious and the centrality of Christ in their lives. In light of this statement it is now possible to see some forms of feminism and some of the newer theological approaches to creation, cosmology, and religious life, for instance, as the fruit and support of lives centered in Christ and minds and hearts that "think with the Church." Even Francis' comments on religious life as necessarily prophetic and challenging to the institutional Church has been profoundly influenced by this theology represented most articulately by Sister Sandra Schneiders, IHM (Prophets in Their Own Country or her Trilogy on Religious Life in the Third Millennium). It is no small feat to be declared "radical witnesses to the Gospel" and "essential to the flourishing of religious life" just a scant three years after being accused of a heterodoxy which had damaged and threatened the well-being of the Church and Religious Life itself!
(N.B. There are different numbers floating around regarding the CDF mandate. Some (The NCR, for instance) are writing it ran for more than six years and the Mandate was given for at least five years. I believe the NCR article was mistaken in its interpretation of the numbers and the time limit of the Mandate. As I understand the situation the facts are that while the CDF's investigation of the LCWR began several years before Abp Sartain's mandate to oversee and reform the LCWR was given, and while his mandate was to extend up to five years, that mandate only ran for three years almost to the day of the announcement from Rome. Hence I have written that the mandate was 'completed' prematurely.)
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) - Officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.), Archbishop Peter Sartain and officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (L.C.W.R.) met April 16. Archbishop Sartain and L.C.W.R. officers presented a joint report (attached) on the implementation of the C.D.F. Doctrinal Assessment and Mandate of April 2012. The joint report outlines the manner in which the implementation of the Mandate has been accomplished. The Congregation accepted the joint report, marking the conclusion of the Doctrinal Assessment of L.C.W.R. Present for the April 16 meeting were His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Muller, Archbishop Peter Sartain, Sr. Carol Zinn, S.S.J., Sr. Marcia Allen, C.S.J., Sr. Joan Marie Steadman, C.S.C., and Sr. Janet Mock, C.S.J., and other officials of CDF.
During the meeting, Archbishop Sartain and L.C.W.R. officers outlined the process undertaken by the Bishop Delegates and L.C.W.R. over the past three years, noting the spirit of cooperation among participants throughout the sensitive process. Cardinal Muller offered his thoughts on the Doctrinal Assessment as well as the Mandate and its completion. He expressed gratitude to those present for their willing participation in this important and delicate work and extended thanks to others who had participated, especially Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, and the past officers and executive directors of L.C.W.R.
Following the meeting, Cardinal Muller said: “At the conclusion of this process, the Congregation is confident that L.C.W.R. has made clear its mission to support its member Institutes by fostering a vision of religious life that is centered on the person of Jesus Christ and is rooted in the tradition of the Church. It is this vision that makes religious women and men radical witnesses to the Gospel, and, therefore, is essential for the flourishing of religious life in the Church”.
Archbishop Sartain added, “Over the past several years, I have had the honour of working with L.C.W.R. officers and meeting a large number of L.C.W.R. members through the implementation of the Mandate. Our work included the revision of L.C.W.R. Statutes; review of L.C.W.R. publications, programs and speakers; and discussion of a wide range of issues raised by the Doctrinal Assessment, L.C.W.R., and the Bishop Delegates.The assistance of C.D.F. officials was essential to the great progress we made. Our work together was undertaken in an atmosphere of love for the Church and profound respect for the critical place of religious life in the United States, and the very fact of such substantive dialogue between bishops and religious women has been mutually beneficial and a blessing from the Lord. As we state in our joint final report, ‘The commitment of L.C.W.R. leadership to its crucial role in service to the mission and membership of the Conference will continue to guide and strengthen L.C.W.R.'s witness to the great vocation of Religious Life, to its sure foundation in Christ, and to ecclesial communion'. The other two Bishop Delegates and I are grateful for the opportunity to be involved in such a fruitful dialogue.”