To stand in solidarity with the American Sisters, supporting them by various means during this time of Vatican discipline, and to foster mutually respectful dialogue with the hierarchy.
On April 18, 2012 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a disciplinary “doctrinal assessment” on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group that represents more than 80% of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.
Hoping for Respectful Dialogue
It appears to many that there is a chasm between the sisters’ understanding of themselves and their work, and that of the bishops. Years of implementing the spirit of Vatican II as well as studying theologians in the areas of ethics, Christology, scripture, and Christian anthropology have advanced the sisters’ understanding of the Gospel message.
For many Catholics and people of other faiths, there has been a loss of respect and esteem for bishops in the wake of the pedophilia crisis and how it was handled. Many of us think it’s wrong to publicly punish the nuns when no bishop has suffered the loss of his job or stepped down in good conscience for moving pedophiliac priests from parish to parish, as they continued to grievously harm young people. This is a question of getting the plank out of one’s eye before trying to the extract the speck in someone else’s. For a thoughtful psychological interpretation of these dynamics, read Dr. Mary Gail Fraley O’Dea’s article in a recent edition of the National Catholic Reporter.
Bishops have a hard job. We extend our sincere wishes to Archbishop Sartain that his well-regarded pastoral skills and emotional intelligence may find a way to create a respectful and productive dialogue. There is a lot at stake.