QUOTE TO NOTE: Pope Francis’ Words of Hope for the Nuns

June 12, 2013

Pope Francis and the leadership of CLAR

In the same conversation that Pope Francis spoke about a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican, he also provided hopeful words for America’s women religious and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) currently experiencing Vatican censure.

According to report by National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis met with leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women (CLAR) and urged religious to live the gospels without too much concern for the Vatican’s politics. The key quote:

“‘Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing … But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward … Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up…’”

One facet of the Vatican’s gripe with American Sisters has been their welcome to LGBT Catholics. New Ways Ministry continues to support the sisters in their struggle, and if you would like to become involved you can visit the Nun Justice website.

For full coverage by Bondings 2.0 of the American women religious’ courageous stand, you can click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Pope Francis Re-Affirms Vatican Censure of American Nuns

April 15, 2013

LCWRPope Francis has re-affirmed the Vatican’s censure against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which had been investigated by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith under the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Australian newspaper reports:

“Pope Francis has backed a doctrinal report drawn up under his predecessor Benedict XVI that accuses the largest group of nuns in the United States of holding “radical feminist” views, the Vatican says.

“The new Pope has ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform’ for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents around 45,000 US nuns and is known for its social work, the Vatican said.

“The statement said the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ludwig Mueller, met with representatives of the LCWR in the Vatican on Monday in an attempt to smooth over differences.”

The National Catholic Reporter has a full story which gives the background of the case and more details about this latest development.

As we reported last year, the investigation focused on three topics:  support for women’s ordination, support for LGBT issues, and questioning whether salvation exists outside the church.   As far as LGBT issues goes, support for New Ways Ministry was specifically identified as a problem in the “Notification” document that was issued last April.

LCWR today issued the following statement in response to this news:

“On April 15, 2013 Sister Florence Deacon, OSF, LCWR president; Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, LCWR president-elect; and Sister Janet Mock, CSJ, LCWR executive director; met with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Archbishop Luis Ladaria, secretary of CDF; and other members of the CDF dicastery. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was also present.

“The LCWR officers reviewed the activities of this past year since receiving the report of CDF’s doctrinal assessment of LCWR in April 2012.

“In his opening remarks, Archbishop Müller informed the group the he had met with Pope Francis who ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.’ “

“The conversation was open and frank. We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church.”

Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle had been appointed by the Vatican to oversee LCWR’s activities, but because of negotiations during the past year, no such oversight had begun.

New Ways Ministry asks you to join us in prayer for women religious in the United States and for the LCWR which is the national association for the leaders of women’s communities. We pray in gratitude for their service and witness, and we pray that they will be allowed to continue their ministry unimpeded.

A list of Bondings 2.0 blog posts about the history of the LCWR case can be found by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


The Worst of 2012 in Catholic LGBT News

December 30, 2012

thumbs downAs the year 2012 winds to a close, it’s time to review the news of the Catholic LGBT world of the past 12 months. In today’s post, we will look at the  stories of the worst happenings of the past year, and in tomorrow’s post, we will look at the best stories.  Bondings 2.0 asked you for your feedback on what the worst and best news stories of the past year were, so the ranking of these stories is based on your responses.  The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five. Thank you to all 311 of you who participated.

The Top Ten

1. The Parliament in Uganda, a pre-dominantly Catholic nation, re-introduces a bill to make the death penalty a possible sentence for lesbian and gay people.  16.34%

2. The Vatican censures the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for, among other things, their support of LGBT issues and New Ways Ministry. 15.69%

3. Pope Benedict opens the year by stating that new models of family are a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity.” 14.05%

4. The Knights of Columbus have contributed $6.5 million to oppose marriage equality over the past seven years, according to an Equally Blessed report. 12.09%

5. A Catholic lesbian woman in Maryland is denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass. 10.13% 

6. The Vatican censures Sister Margaret Farley, a theologian who has supported the moral goodness of gay and lesbian relationships. 6.86%  

7. U.S. bishops attempt to make religious liberty an issue as a way to defeat marriage equality initiatives. 6.54%

8. Minnesota teen is denied confirmation for supporting marriage equality. 4.9%

9 & 10. TIE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Catholic University of America again denies a request for recognition of a gay-straight alliance on campus. 2.29%                               Several Catholic church employees are fired because of their support of marriage equality. 2.29%

Other items:

In several cases, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development withdraws funding from organizations which support LGBT equality. 1.96% 

Catholic theologian Tina Beattie is disinvited from a fellowship appointment at the University of San Diego because of her support of marriage equality. 1.63%  

The U.S. Catholic bishops investigate the Girl Scouts of America for connections to liberal causes, including LGBT equality. 1.63%  

Minnesota’s Archbishop John Nienstedt instructs his priests not to speak publicly in support of marriage equality. 1.63%

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis refuses to call a female-to-male transgender student by his male name. 0.98%

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR Supporters Write to Bishops with Christmas Greetings

December 19, 2012
New Ways Ministry staff write to support LCWR

New Ways Ministry’s Bob Shine and Sister Jeannine Gramick write to support LCWR.

New Ways Ministry staff and local friends sent over two dozen cards in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the nuns who have long championed LGBT persons and organizations, including New Ways Ministry.

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic church reform and social justice organizations including New Ways Ministry, asked Catholics to send Christmas cards and emails to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and the three American bishops (Archbishop Peter Sartain, Bishop Leonard Blair, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki) tasked with implementing the Vatican’s mandate for LCWR.

You can add your support through this link. New Ways Ministry strongly encourages all Catholics and LGBT advocates to send notes expressing your support for LCWR in this Christmas season.

As reported previously, the Vatican’s critique of the nuns partially emerged out of their support for LGBT persons and organizations.  You can find previous Bondings 2.0 posts about the nuns’ controversy by typing “LCWR” into the “Search” box in the right-hand column of this page.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Previous post on the LCWR card writing campaign:

December 5, 2012: Support LCWR with a Christmas Card to the Nuncio and the Bishops!


Support LCWR with a Christmas Card to the Nuncio and the Bishops!

December 5, 2012

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic church reform and social justice organizations including New Ways Ministry, is urging Catholics to send Christmas cards to leading prelates in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Launched after a harsh Vatican critique of LCWR in early 2012, the Nun Justice Project asks the nuns’ supporters to write with gratitude for the prophetic ministry of the American sisters and to request a withdrawal of the Vatican-imposed mandate against LCWR.

The Project is targeting the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, and the three bishops charged with implementing Vatican-mandated reforms to LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL. You can add your support through this link.

As reported previously on Bondings 2.0, with links provided below, the Vatican’s critique of the nuns partially emerged out of their support for LGBT persons and organizations. Specifically named by the Vatican was New Ways Ministry, which has benefited greatly in its 35 years from the unequivocal and sustained support of communities of women religious.

The women religious of LCWR were one of those things the staff of New Ways Ministry was most thankful for this year and we stand with the sisters in these challenging times. New Ways Ministry strongly encourages Catholics and LGBT advocates to write to the bishops and express your support for the nuns who have adamantly struggled for equality within the Church and society.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Previous posts relating to LCWR:

August 11, 2012: LCWR Will Continue to Work Towards Dialogue With Vatican Officials

July 22, 2012: LCWR President Offers “Fresh Air” on Vatican Challenge to Nuns

June 21, 2012: Support the Sisters by Re-Directing Peter’s Pence Donations

June 12, 2012: Report on LCWR Meeting With the CDF at the Vatican

June 1, 2012: LCWR Responds to the Vatican with a Vision of Equality, Hope, and Dialogue

May 28, 2012: Support Our Sisters: Pray at a Vigil!

May 11, 2012: Sister Jeannine, Cardinal Ratzinger, New Ways Ministry, and Solidarity with LCWR

May 1, 2012: Round-up of Actions and Commentary on LCWR

April 23, 2012: Message to Nuns: ‘Be Not Afraid’

April 22, 2012: Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations

April 21, 2012: Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

April 20, 2012: Can There Really Be “Collaboration” Between the Vatican and LCWR?

April 19, 2012: Sister Joan Chittister & Sister Simone Campbell Respond to Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns

April 18, 2012: Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns; New Ways Ministry’s Response


LCWR Will Continue to Work Towards Dialogue With Vatican Officials

August 11, 2012

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the American nuns’ organization that was censured by the Vatican earlier this year in part because of their support of LGBT issues, met in St. Louis this past week to discern what their response to the hierarchy’s critique would be.

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF

On Friday, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, president of LCWR,  announced that the nuns’ group will continue to dialogue with church officials about the situation. The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) summarized Sister Farrell’s statement:

“Reading aloud from a prepared statement, which came after approval from the 900 sisters gathered at the assembly, LCWR’s president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said LCWR membership wanted to use the occasion of the Vatican order ‘to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values and operating principles.’ ”

NCR explained how the Sisters’ outlined what their next steps will be:

As part of the Vatican’s mandate, LCWR has been ordered to place itself under the authority of an ‘archbishop delegate,’ Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain.

“LCWR national board is expected to meet with Sartain in St. Louis Sunday for about two hours. The focus of that meeting ‘will be on beginning to process with him and see how that unfolds,’ Farrell said at a press conference.

“The LCWR expect ‘open and honest dialogue’ with Sartain that ‘may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church,’ the statement said.

“ ‘Religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,’ it said.

“ ‘The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue,’ the statement said. ‘The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible, but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.’ ”

New Ways Ministry’s Sister Jeannine Gramick (co-founder, right) and Francis DeBernardo (executive director, left) pose with LCWR president emerita, Mercy Sister Theresa Kane (center) at New Ways Ministry’s exhibit table at the LCWR Assembly in St. Louis. New Ways Ministry works for justice and equality for LGBT Catholics.

Sister Farrell explained to NCR her hopes for the discussion between the LCWR national board and Archbishop Sartain:

“Asked what she hopes to receive in dialogue with Sartain, Farrell said LCWR wants ‘to be recognized and be understood as equal in the church.’

” ‘And really we do want to come to the point of having an environment … for the entire Catholic church to search for truth together, to talk about issues that are very complicated. And there is not the environment right now.’

“The Vatican’s critique of LCWR said the Vatican congregation identified a ‘prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith’ in the group’s programs and ‘corporate dissent’ in the group regarding the church’s sexual teachings.

Farrell said during questioning from the press that ‘dialogue on doctrine is not going to be our starting point.’

“ ‘Our starting point will be about our own life and about our understanding of religious life,’ Farrell continued. ‘And the documents, in our view, misrepresent that.’ ”

Sister Farrell expressed hope that dialogue “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church.”

During her Presidential Address to the LCWR meeting, Sister Farrell offered the Sisters’ leaders six ways forward in their continuing discussions with church officials:  through contemplation, with a prophetic voice, through solidarity with the marginalized, through community, non-violently, and by living in joyful hope.  

She closed her address by stating:

“We stand in the power of the dying and rising of Jesus. I hold forever in my heart an expression of that from the days of the dictatorship in Chile: ‘Pueden aplastar algunas flores, pero no pueden detener la primavera.’ ‘They can crush a few flowers but they can’t hold back the springtime.’

Support for LCWR outside the Assembly hotel in St. Louis.

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic groups supporting the LCWR, issued a statement praising Sister Farrell’s remarks and LCWR’s response:

 “Today, the sisters stood in their integrity and, once again, responded to the needs of the people,” said Erin Saiz Hanna, spokesperson for The Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference. “As a young woman of faith, I find hope in their statement for the role of women in our church, and that dialogue is possible.”

“We commend the sisters on their prayerful discernment and response to the Vatican,” stated Jim FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of Call To Action. “Their actions speak to their faithfulness and the reasons why Catholics across the country support them.” 

The Nun Justice Project is comprised of American Catholic Council, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church , Call To Action, Catholics for Choice, CORPUS, DignityUSA, Federation of Christian Ministries, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, Quixote Center, RAPPORT, Voice of the Faithful, WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual, and Women’s Ordination Conference

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR President Offers “Fresh Air” on Vatican Challenge to Nuns

July 22, 2012

 

 

The Vatican’s critique of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the association of the heads of Catholic nuns’ communities in the United States, focused on the organization’s approach to three issues:  openness to women’s ordination, whether salvation exists outside the Church, and support for LGBT issues generally (with support for New Ways Ministry noted particularly).

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF

The LCWR’s annual assembly will be coming up in the second week of August.  In advance of that meeting and to discuss the Vatican’s challenge, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, the current President of LCWR, sat down this week for interview on WHYY’s popular syndicated radio talk show, Fresh Air. A report on the interview, along with excerpted passages, is available on the website of Vermont Public Radio.  The report notes:

“. . .the nuns said the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the group was based on ‘unsubstantiated accusations’ and may ‘compromise the ability of female nuns to ‘fulfill their mission.’

” ‘I would say the mandate is more critical of positions we haven’t taken than those we have taken,’ says Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the Leadership Conference. ‘As I read that document, the concern is the issues we tend to be more silent about when the bishops are speaking out very clearly about some things. There are issues about which we think there’s a need for a genuine dialogue, and there doesn’t seem to be a climate of that in the church right now.’

“Farrell tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that the leadership organization is currently gathering the perspectives of all of its members in preparation for its national assembly in August.

” ‘We’re hoping to come out of that assembly with a much clearer direction about [the Vatican's decision], and that’s when the national board and presidency can proceed,’ she says.

“Among the options on the table, she says, are fully complying with the mandate, not complying with the mandate or seeing if the Vatican will negotiate with them.”

” ‘In my mind, [I want] to see if we can somehow, in a spirited, nonviolent strategizing, look for maybe a third way that refuses to define the mandate and the issues in such black and white terms,’ she says.”

Included among the excerpts on the website are the following three sections:

On questioning doctrine within the Catholic Church

“The question is, ‘Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?’ That’s what we’re asking. … I think one of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam in the position we’re in, if we can make any headways in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day, that would be our hope. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.”

On their options

“We’re not talking about the risk of excommunication or leaving the church. That’s not our intent. We’re talking about the Vatican’s dealing with a national organization, not with specific religious congregations or individual religious. The one and only underlying option for us is to respond with integrity with however we proceed. That is our absolute bottom line in this. Some of the options would be to just comply with the mandate that’s been given to us. Or to say we can’t comply with this and see what the Vatican does with that. Or to remove ourselves and form a separate organization.”

On the criticism from the Vatican regarding human sexuality

“We have been, in good faith, raising concerns about some of the church’s teachings on sexuality. The problem being that the teaching and interpretation of the faith can’t remain static and really needs to be reformulated, rethought in light of the world we live in. And new questions and new realities [need to be addressed] as they arise. And if those issues become points of conflict, it’s because Women Religious stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives. That is our gift to the church. Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That’s where we spend our days.”

Other excerpts on the website cover the following topics: roles in the church, women’s ordination, the Vatican’s phrase “radical feminist themes, and abortion.

Previous Bondings 2.0 posts (selected) on the LCWR controversy:

April 18, 2012: Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns; New Ways Ministry’s Response

April 19, 2012: Sister Joan Chittister & Sister Simone Campbell Respond to Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns

April 21, 2012: Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

April 22, 2012: Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations

May 11, 2012: Sister Jeannine, Cardinal Ratzinger, New Ways Ministry, and Solidarity with LCWR

June 1, 2012: LCWR Responds to the Vatican with a Vision of Equality, Hope, and Dialogue

June 12, 2012: Report on LCWR Meeting With the CDF at the Vatican

June 21, 2012: Support the Sisters by Re-Directing Peter’s Pence Donations

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

 


Report on LCWR Meeting With the CDF at the Vatican

June 12, 2012

Sister Pat Farrell

The president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with a Vatican official and an American archbishop in Rome this week to see if they could resolve differences in perspectives that resulted from the Vatican’s demand that the leadership group reform itself.  The nuns’ support of LGBT issues, including New Ways Ministry particularly, were part of the Vatican’s critique of the organization.

Sister Pat Farrell, president, and Sister Janet Mock, executive director, met with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was appointed to direct the LCWR’s reform.

Sister Janet Mock

According to LCWR’s statement after the meeting, the nuns stated that they were able to communicate their message:

“ ‘It was an open meeting and we were able to directly express our concerns to Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain,’ said Sister Pat Farrell.”

The National Catholic Reporter article on the meeting quotes from the Vatican’s statement, which seems to indicate that Rome has not backed down on any of its original demands:

Archbishop Peter Sartain

“According to canon law, the Vatican said, the LCWR ‘is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts” and cooperation.

” ‘The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the magisterium,’  the Vatican said.”

Cardinal William Levada

The NCR article quotes Sister Farrell as saying:

“We are grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue, and now we will return to our members to see about the next step.”

The meeting comes after almost a month of discussion and commentary on the issue, as well as an outpouring of support for the nuns from Catholics across the U.S.

Last week, the first religious community of men, the Franciscan in the U.S., issued a statement of support for the sisters. In an open letter to the nuns, the Franciscans said:

“We write. . . as a public sign of our solidarity with you as you endure this very difficult moment.  We are privileged to share with you the journey of religious life.  Like you, we strive in all that we do to build up the People of God. . . .

“. . .your gift to the Church is not only one of service, but also one of courageous discernment.  The late 20th century and the beginning of this century have been times of great social, political and cultural upheaval and change.  Such contextual changes require us, as faithful members of the Church, to pose questions that at first may appear to be controversial or even unfaithful, but in fact are asked precisely so that we might live authentically the charisms we have received, even as we respond to the “signs of the times.”  This is the charge that we as religious have received through the “Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life” from the Second Vatican Council and subsequent statements of the Church on religious life.  We believe that your willingness to reflect on many of the questions faced by contemporary society is an expression of your determination to be faithful to the Gospel, the Church, the invitation from Vatican II and your own religious charisms.  We remain thankful for and edified by your courage to engage in such reflection despite the ever-present risk of misunderstanding.

St. Francis

“Moreover, we are concerned that the tone and direction set forth in the Doctrinal Assessment of LCWR are excessive, given the evidence raised.  The efforts of LCWR to facilitate honest and faithful dialogue on critical issues of our times must not result in a level of ecclesial oversight that could, in effect, quash all further discernment.  Further, questioning your adherence to Church teaching by your “remaining silent” on certain ethical issues seems to us a charge that could be leveled against many groups in the Church, and fails to appreciate both the larger cultural context and the particular parameters of expertise within which we all operate.  Finally, when there appears to be honest disagreement on the application of moral principles to public policy, it is not equivalent to questioning the authority of the Church’s magisterium.  Although the Catholic moral tradition speaks of agreement regarding moral principles, it also – from the Middle Ages through today – speaks of appropriate disagreement regarding specific application of these principles.”

Sister Simone Campbell

One of LCWR’s greatest supporters has been Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby.  In an article in Canada’s National Post, Sister Campbell identifies what she sees as the biggest difference between the Vatican and U.S. nuns:

“It’s a clash of monarchy versus democracy. It’s not about faith. It’s culture.”

But her analysis doesn’t stop there.  She also points out some other important differences which may be causing the rift:

“We’re a bit more vibrant than the European folks. . .

“I don’t know anything the bishops are saying is true. I don’t think we’re radical feminists. We now have advanced degrees, often more education than the bishops have, which makes the bishops nervous.

“What irks the bishops is that ordinary people look to Catholic sisters for their moral perspectives and find us credible teachers. We understand the complexity of life. When you can live in the Vatican without engaging in real people in pastoral settings it’s way easier to be black and white.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR Responds to the Vatican with a Vision of Equality, Hope, and Dialogue

June 1, 2012

The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has issued a response to the Vatican’s April report which challenged American nuns’ positions on several church issues, including their support of LGBT people and New Ways Ministry.

After a three-day meeting which ended on May 31st, the LCWR board critiqued both the substance and process of the Vatican’s investigation:

“Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency. Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.”

The statement added that the LCWR leadership plans to have further discussions with Vatican leadership on the matter and then turn any further decision-making steps to the membership, which will be be meeting in St. Louis in August for their annual assembly.

Sister Christine Schenck

This statement comes after a month of vigils held around the U.S. in support of the LCWR and women religious.  Over 650 people prayed at a vigil in Cleveland this week.   A local television report quotes Sister Christine Schenck, Executive Director of FutureChurch:

“I feel like they’re maligning the integrity of women religious in the U.S. and they have disrespected the leadership in the U.S.”

CBS This Morning carried an interview with Sister Maureen Fiedlerhost of National Public Radio’s Interfaith Voices radio show, who called the Vatican’s attempt to provide oversight to LCWR  as a “hostile takeover.”  She also stated, in regard to LGBT issues:

“I think nuns embracing the teachings that came from the Second Vatican Council have become deeply involved on issues of poverty, injustice, in peace, in the environment. We’re very concerned about those things. Those are our whole lives. Our vows call us to give our lives to other people. And if we’re at all concerned about people of a gay or lesbian orientation, we believe they’re equal, too.”

Sister Maureen Fiedler

Sister Fiedler explained that part of the context for the Vatican versus LCWR controversy comes down to two different definitions of the church:

“This is about what kind of a Catholic Church we’re going to be. Because when I hear Vatican mandate, what I hear is the voice of the church of 19th Century, the voice of the church before that wonderful reforming council, the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, when it was exhilarating to be a Catholic in those days, when the windows were open and fresh air was let into the church. That’s what nuns today have embraced, is that kind of a church. Not a dictatorial one, but a collaborative one.”

That collaborative approach was evident in the concluding paragraph of the LCWR board statement.  With forthrightness and hope, they present a vision for a church of justice, equality, and dialogue:

“The board recognizes this matter has deeply touched Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world as evidenced by the thousands of messages of support as well as the dozens of prayer vigils held in numerous parts of the country. It believes that the matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world. As the church and society face tumultuous times, the board believes it is imperative that these matters be addressed by the entire church community in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and integrity.”

Amen!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


Support Our Sisters: Pray at a Vigil!

May 28, 2012

Tuesday, May 29th, will be marked by prayer vigils across the nation in support of religious communities of Sisters, as their Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) face sanctions from the Vatican, announced last month.  Since support of LGBT issues, particularly support of New Ways Ministry’s programs, were a main factor in the Vatican’s sanctions, Bondings 2.0 is strongly encouraging people to attend.

Waterloo, Iowa, vigil, May 22, 2012

NunJustice.org, a website dedicated to actions in support of the Sisters, has a complete list of vigils, along with times, locations, and contact information.  Please check the dates as many of the vigils have been taking place throughout May, and although most of the locations will be culminating in a final vigil on May 29th, not all will.    The website’s description of the vigils:

“Stand in solidarity with those who acknowledge women religious as pioneers of social justice, advocates for peace, and women of dignity. “

NunJustice.org also suggests other actions people can take to support the Sisters: Petition, Write, Share Photos, Pledge.

In addition, New Ways Ministry has also suggested writing letters of encouragement to women’s communities.

According to the schedule on NunJustice.org, the following cities will be hosting vigils on May 29th:

Albany, NY

Anchorage, AK

Austin, TX

Bardstown, KY

Boston, MA

Claremont, CA

Cincinnati, OH

Chicago, IL

Clovis, CA

Columbus, OH

Hebron, CT

Indianapolis, IN

Lansing, MI

Little Falls, MN

Louisville, KY

Los Angeles, CA

Mt. Prospect, IL

New York, NY

Oakland, CA

Omaha, NE

Pittsford, NY

Portland, OR

Providence, RI

Raleigh, NC

Rockford, IL

Roseville, MI

Sacramento, CA

San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Juan, TX

Santa Rosa, CA

Seattle, WA

Sedona, Arizona

St. Louis, MO

Stockton, CA

Tempe, AZ

Toledo, OH

Washington, DC

Waterloo, IA

 

The following cities will have vigils later in the week:

May 30th    Bloomington, IN

May 30th    Cleveland, OH

May 31st       Sedona, AZ

June 3rd       St. Cloud, MN

 

Whether you can attend a vigil or not, please keep the Sisters in your prayers during this critical time in their lives and in the life of the Church.

–Francis DeBernardo

 

 

 


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