Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

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CMSWR Chairperson Sister Regina Marie Gorman in a Papal Audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, Rome.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (Italian: Consiglio dei Superiori Maggiori delle Donne Religiose) (CMSWR) is a Roman Catholic association of major superiors (superiors general or provincial superiors) of religious institutes for women in the United States of America.

Established on 12 June 1992 with provisional approval by the Holy See's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, it obtained definitive approval on 26 October 1995 under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.[1][2][3]

The council's purpose is to promote collaboration and inter-communication among its members, participation, dialogue and education about the teaching of the Catholic Church on the religious life, unity with the Pope and cooperation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.[1]

It is one of four United States federations of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life that have received approval from the Holy See, the others being the Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes USA, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (which were recently in disagreement with the Vatican over Doctrinal issues from 2008 through 2015), and the US Conference of Secular Institutes.[2][3]


In the 1980s, several religious communities saw the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which had been established on December 12, 1959 under the name "Conference of Major Superiors of Women in the United States", as turning towards secular and political interests and as supporting dissent from the Church's teaching. They asked to be authorized to form a parallel association clearly loyal to the Magisterium, and the Holy See finally granted their request in 1992.[4]

CMSWR members differ from those of the LCWR in having "major superiors" rather than "leaders" and in wearing recognizable religious habits. Their institutes have only 20% of the women religious of the United States, but they are younger, and growing in numbers.[4]

According to the 2009 Study on Recent Vocations by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the average median age of nuns and sisters in CMSWR institutes was 60, compared with 74 for those in LCWR; among those joining CMSWR institutes only 15% were over 40, compared with 56% for LCWR institutes; 43% of the CMSWR institutes had at least 5 novices, compared with 9% of the LCWR institutes.[5][6]

In January 2009, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life announced it would conduct an apostolic visitation of American women religious to examine their quality of life, ministries, and vocation efforts. The congregation under the leadership of Cardinal Franc Rode, appointed Superior General Mother Mary Clare Millea to oversee the visitation.[7][8] The council welcomed the visitation and encouraged members to cooperate fully.[9]

In October 2010, the council's chairperson Sister Regina Marie Gorman and former chairperson Sister Ann Marie Karlovic O.P. met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Apostolic Palace in Rome.[10]

In March 2012, the council celebrated their 20th founding anniversary and its board of directors met with Cardinal Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.[11]

Current officers[edit]

As of 2012, the CMSWR president is Sister Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., and the secretary is Sister Gabrielle Mary Braccio, R.S.M.[2] The current Episcopal Liaison, appointed by the Holy See is Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali.[12][13]

Canonized and beatified members[edit]

Various member individuals of religious congregations presently belonging to the council has recently been canonized or beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, among which are the following:[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b About CMSWR
  2. ^ a b c Annuario Pontificio 2012 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2012 ISBN 978-88-209-8722-0), pp. 1701-1702
  3. ^ a b New commentary on the Code of Canon Law by John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, p. 877
  4. ^ a b Donna F. Bethel, "What's Going On with the LCWR?" in National Catholic Register, June 17, 2012
  5. ^ Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life Archived July 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Vatican Diary / The Holy Office puts the American sisters in the corner
  7. ^ under the leadership of Cardinal Franc Rode, appointing Superior General Mother Clare Millea as Apostolic Visitor.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Statement of CMSWR concerning the Visitation
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ Meet our Episcopal Liaison
  13. ^
  14. ^ Decretum ad Neo Eboracensis - Timoteum Cardinalem Dolans -

External links[edit]