In 1969, Vatican Proves No Match for Rebellious Milwaukee Sisters

School Sisters of St. Francis in 1947
Vatican Proves No Match for Rebellious Sisters

The ink on Ecclesiae Sanctae had not yet dried when Paul VI received alarming news from Ildebrando Cardinal Antoniutti, Prefect for the CFR, and Egidio Cardinal Vagnozzi, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was spinning out of control and some teaching Congregations were already in advanced states of disintegration.

In 1968, the CFR sent an Apostolic Visitation team to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to mediate the war between James Cardinal McIntyre and Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. [23] In 1969, another Apostolic Visitation team was sent to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to quell the rebellion of the School Sisters of St. Francis against the supine Archbishop William E. Cousins. [24] In both cases the rebels emerged victorious.

On June 29, 1971, Paul VI set his seal on the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelica Testificatio On the Renewal of the Religious Life According to the Teaching of the Second Vatican Council. [25] But no amount of sweet talk from the Vatican was going to lure the rebels away from their new-found freedom and the spoils of war they had come to enjoy under the Montini papacy.

Pope John Paul II did not fare much better. Unwilling to confront the LCWR and its feminist cohorts with a healthy dose of punishment politics, he decided on an alternative strategy — the formation of a Commission to study and make recommendations on the reasons for the decline in women religious life in America.
Read the whole thing at Renew America 

This is a fantastic overview, and I was shocked to see what Pope Pius XII did in his modernization of religious life. 

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