Father John Zuhlsdorf is all over this. And the readership at the heresy-celebrating National Catholic Reporter is apoplectic.
I confess to be indulging in schadenfreude over this. I probably should just avoid reading the histrionics in the NCR combox: "Inquisition!" "Burning at the stake!" I am especially amused by the repeated claim -- made very seriously -- that this is about the upcoming congressional elections. As if the German Cardinal Mueller (head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and the Argentinian pope, are deeply interested in the outcome of our elections -- and, to boot, they think the way to influence them is to direct the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to be careful to only have orthodox Catholic speakers at their events.
Oooh, what a fiendish plot!
Lots has been written on this, so I won't rehash it all. Sadly, most of the commentary on this is ill informed, and childish, as in, how dare those mean old men in Rome pick on the dear sisters!
It's really simple. All institutes of consecrated life -- i.e., religious orders -- are under the special authority of the pope and those acting for him. There's a whole big section of Canon Law on this.
That's how it works. If you go out, in public, saying you're Catholic, at some point you'll hear from the bishops of the Catholic Church if they think you're misrepresenting what being Catholic is. Not so much if you're a private citizen, but much more if you create an organization. Even more, if you ask the Catholic Church to give your organization official recognition.
And a whole lot more if you create a society or association for consecrated life.
Despite what the NCR combox warriors say, all institutes of religious life, male and female, come under the guidance of the pope and his lieutenants. That's how it works.
The sad thing is, you'd think religious communities in the Catholic Church would be eager to hear from the pope, and those working with him, about how they can more fully live their vows and be fruitful Catholic apostolates.
Now, I admit, if the pope called me this afternoon, I'd need a new chair. But if the pope said, "I'm calling to help you be a better Catholic," why wouldn't I be glad to hear from him? What Catholic wouldn't want to hear from the Successor to Saint Peter? And listen to him?
"He who hears you, hears me" -- our Lord Jesus Christ, to his Apostles, in Luke 10:16.