Latin American religious recall tough decisions, emphasis on dialogue
Published: April 24, 2012
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- The decision to take over leadership of the largest U.S. group of Catholic nuns for its "serious doctrinal problems" was not the first time the Vatican reined in a group of religious. Two decades ago, the Vatican appointed a bishop to oversee the work of the Latin American Confederation of Religious, known by its Spanish acronym as CLAR. At the time, the confederation represented 160,000 men and women religious in the region. "It was a very difficult moment for the confederation," said Father Gabriel Naranjo Salazar, a Vincentian priest involved in CLAR at the time and who is now secretary-general of the organization. "It was not only difficult because it affected the (CLAR's) ecclesial independence and its mentality, but also because it seemed completely unjustified," Father Naranjo told Catholic News Service in mid-April. Now CLAR, which currently represents about 130,000 religious, has a strong relationship with the Vatican and the Latin American bishops' council, or CELAM, Father Naranjo said. Father Naranjo said the transition, while painful at the time, was made easier by a good working relationship with the Vatican delegates. In 1989, the Vatican decided to directly supervise the confederation's "Word-Life" evangelization plan after it was criticized for its "reductionist" readings of the Scripture and for relying too heavily on Marxist analysis of social ills. Shortly thereafter, the Vatican took over the group's leadership committee. Two years later, the Vatican suspended CLAR's procedures for electing leadership and appointed its own delegates to lead the confederation. "The new directors named by the Vatican, who were very faithful to the spirit of the CLAR, worked for and encouraged the return of the (confederation) to its normal function in less than the three-year period" that had been mandated, Father Naranjo said.
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