A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Nuns' group receives Freedom in the Church award

In Nation

7:25 am on Tue, 11.20.12

If you see a Catholic nun this week — serving turkey dinners at a homeless shelter, working with immigrants preparing to be sworn in as U.S. citizens or directing children in a Thanksgiving play — you might want to congratulate her on her Herbert Haag Prize for 2013 for Freedom in the Church.

In a news release Monday, the Swiss foundation said, "With great respect, the Herbert Haag Foundation honors the LCWR, its nearly 1,500 member organizations, and the 10 thousands of dedicated women religious for their candid stance in this crisis, for their persistent loyalty to the Christian message and for the spiritual energy with which they carry the conflict."

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is made up of the elected leaders of 80 percent of the 57,000 U.S. Catholic sisters. The group met in St. Louis in August amid accusations that it was not in step with Vatican teachings.

In the spring, the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after an investigation into allegations that the leadership group had "grave shortcomings" in doctrine in the organization’s annual meetings, issued a mandate to reform. That's called a Doctrinal Assessment. It accused LCWR of positions on abortion, the ordination of women, feminism and homosexuality that deviate from Catholic teachings.

The nuns in this organization and tens of thousands of lay Catholics were up in arms. Just on the abortion issue, Sister Patricia Farrell, the Franciscan sister who led the group, said every one of the sisters' members' orders or congregations has sisters assisting women with troubled pregnancy with housing, education, legal matters and help with adoption referral.

Still, a committee of three U.S. bishops, under the leadership of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, has been charged by the Vatican of seeing that the nuns are not leaning into heresy. In the coming five years, the three bishops, including Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., can intervene in all the proceedings of LCWR, formulate new statutes, and censor publications, future activities, and statements.

In a private June meeting with Cardinal William J. Levada, head of the congregation, and Sartain at the Vatican, the leadership group claimed the Vatican criticism was unfounded. Farrell and LCWR Executive Director Sister Janet Mock, a sister of St. Joseph, said that the accusations of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are "without any substantial foundation" and are the result of an unsatisfactory investigation process that lacks transparency. The Vatican was asked but was not able to prove any of the accusations in official documents to the leaders, Farrell said.

The intervention of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is looked upon as a scandal by many Catholics, especially in the United States, a response that has found enormous echo in the general public, the award citation said.

The Herbert Haag Foundation said it wished to give weight in Europe to the strong voice of these women, giving encouragement to those resigned to silence, those announcing the honor said.

The prize for Freedom in the Church was endowed by Herbert Haag who died in 2001 and was professor for Old Testament at the University of Tubingen, in Germany.

Beyond the award news, the American overseers are reporting to a new person at the Vatican. Levada, the American cardinal who started the investigation, retired in July. His replacement as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller who is 64. Until July he was bishop of Regensburg, Germany. He is known to be a good friend of the pope, whose older brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, was music director of that Regensburg Cathedral's choir. In another connection, one of the four principals of the awarding foundation Sabine Demel, a professor at Regensburg University.

The foundation seeks people and institutions that engage in the spirit of the apostle Paul for freedom in the church and in doing so give witness to the world, according the foundation's mission statement.

The American sisters are being citied for the award because "their struggle for the marginalized and people in difficult circumstances, their presence to the needs of today’s world, and their careful reflection of the signs of the times in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, have made them a pillar of the Catholic Church in the United States," the foundation announcement said.

Farrell, who led the St. Louis meeting, will accept the award on April 14, 2013, at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne, Switzerland.

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

More About The Beacon Home