The keynote speaker at the annual Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly assured the sisters that their qualities of “evolutionary leadership” will serve them well in their future decisions.
Barbara Marx Hubbard, an author and promoter of “conscious evolution,” told approximately 900 sisters who gathered in St. Louis for their annual assembly that they are facing a profound moment in time.
“We have come here together at the most critical time in the history of humanity because we’re facing a moment of choice,” she said.
Hubbard expanded on her philosophy, saying that out of every crisis comes the opportunity for evolution or destruction.
“How might the contents of conscious evolution be a service to a full next step to the larger world and to the Church itself?” she asked the assembly.
Hubbard's address comes after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued in April 2012 the results of a four year study of the organization that found a doctrinal “crisis.” The report placed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle in charge of carrying out a reform of the group.
Among the key findings of the assessment were serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference's annual assemblies in recent years.
Several of the addresses, the assessment said, depicted a vision of religious life that is incompatible with the faith of the Church. Some attempted to justify dissent from Church doctrine and showed “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.”
“As you know, she is a scientist and futurist and LCWR is very interested in hearing understandings about the rapid shifts that are occurring in the world today,” the group’s president Sr. Pat Farrell told the media Aug. 2.
Hubbard made no mention of the Vatican's assessment and the sisters have been encouraged not to “speculate publicly” about what will happen.
LCWR’s leaders are expected to make an announcement Aug. 10 about how they will respond to the Vatican mandate for reform, after consultation in a series of executive sessions.
Hubbard believes the conference has shown great capacity to “speak truth to power,” as evidenced by the recent “Nuns on the Bus” campaign.
Although the bus tour, which overlapped the U.S. Bishop's Fortnight for Freedom prayer initiative to defend religious freedom, was not directly sponsored by the LCWR, but a “progressive” Catholic social justice organization called Network, many of its participants were conference members.
“So my conclusion is that you are the best seedbed I know for evolving the Church and the world in the 21st century,” Hubbard said.
National Catholic Register correspondent Ann Carey contributed to this report.