The World Religions & Spirituality Project (WRSP) has published an entry about LCWR online. WRSP provides “objective, reliable, and comprehensive information about the world’s diverse array of religious and spiritual groups. In describing LCWR’s significance to the study of women in religions, WRSP notes in part:
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been known to be “a force in the transformation process” of Catholic Sisters since its founding (Quiñonez and Turner 1992:ix). It has been at the forefront of the movement in the United States over the decades as Sisters came to terms with the “implications, personal and public, of being women” and have long-worked to have the structures of the Church and of their own institutes “incorporate women’s knowledge” (Quiñonez and Turner 1992:93). According to Lora Ann Quiñonez, CDP, and Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN, authors of The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters:
LCWR, both as system and as membership body, attests to the reality of the process we call “feminization.” In terms of the first, the structures of governance, decision-making, programming, communication, and work manifests characteristics that we tend to identify with women. In terms of the second, the collective body prefers feminized styles of interaction. They vote to maintain the concerns of women as an important piece of the agenda. They identify themselves as women and put energy into knowing their experience as women. They respond to calls to uncover the truth revealed by their experience and to celebrate it. And they persist in trying to translate their new knowledge into public forms, whether civil or church. We believe that one of the critical factors driving the feminization process is that the women, collectively, began to notice the systemic absence and silence of women in ecclesiastical polity, ministry, and cult (1992:93–94).
Over the years, LCWR has provided studies, research, publications, programs, and more that have helped in the gradual renewal of consciousness about the contributions of women to the Catholic Church and society. As a result, Catholic Sisters and other women who have been associated with LCWR have grown in their capacity to create educational programs, worship experiences, governance structures, and communications vehicles that incorporate women’s perspectives.
The 2009–2015 experience of the Vatican’s investigation and efforts to reform the LCWR was evidence of the ongoing creative tension between a centuries-old hierarchical Church leadership structure and an organization within the Catholic Church that has modes of operation that emphasize shared leadership and collaboration. The capacity for both groups to work through this tension in a respectful, civil manner that left both sides intact has provided hope to organizations seeking ways to work through conflict and polarization. LCWR members’ practices of contemplation, respectful listening, and open dialogue have proven to be of interest to others looking for ways to increase civility and nonviolence in an increasingly polarized society.