From Ann Maja Rappard and Nina Melendez, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) – A group of Catholic activists gathered in front of a Manhattan cathedral Tuesday for the latest protest over a Vatican reprimand of America’s largest organization of Catholic nuns.
About two dozen parishioners and former clergy gathered in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, protesting last month’s controversial report from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the church’s doctrinal watchdog.
Following a years-long “doctrinal assessment” investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — which represents 80% of the Catholic nuns in United States — the report found “serious doctrinal problems” and called for major reforms.
It accused the LCWR of sponsoring “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations.”
“The sisters are wonderful people who work very hard, and yes, they do care about the poor, and they do care about social concerns, and the congregation of the dogma of the faith has come down on them really hard,” said Eileen Sammon, one of the protestors gathered outside St. Patrick’s. “It is unfair, unjust, unconscionable, and I’m here to support them.”
Sheila Peiffer, with The Nun Justice Project, a Catholic activist organization, organized a petition to rally support for sisters nationwide. “I would like to see the Vatican rescind the mandate, but i think that would be doubtful judging from past actions,” she said, “but we always believe in the power of the holy spirit and peace. Peace and reconciliation is everyone’s goal.”
Last week, crowds gathered in Cincinnati in a similar protest.
While praising the group’s work on social justice issues, the Holy See blamed it for remaining “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.”
“Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching,” the report said.
It also noted public statements from nuns that opposed Catholic bishops. The LCWR disagreed with the bishops’ conference’s position on the Affordable Care Act, which they supported and the Bishops did not.
The church called the LCWR’s position “grave and a matter of serious concern. “
CNN’s Chris Boyette, Eric Marrapodi and Patrick Feeney contributed to this report.