The editors raise a number of questions regarding the Vatican's censure of the Leadership Council of Women Religious:
In the wake of the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, with many others we offer our support to the sisters. Ten years after the emergence of the sexual abuse crisis, transparency in disciplinary proceedings is more important than ever. Gaps in the public record need to be filled in.
First, there is the history of the assessment. Catholics in the United States and elsewhere are curious about where it came from. How did it originate? Who were the petitioners? Was the U.S. bishops’ conference ever involved or consulted? When and how? When and why and at whose request were Network and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes added to the inquiry?
There is the matter, too, of the selective nature of the inquiry. Have conferences of religious in other countries been criticized for being less vocal and active in their advocacy than their bishops would have liked? Have conferences of religious in other countries also spoken too softly on issues about which the American sisters were allegedly too quiet? Are other institutes and societies, such as personal prelatures and associations of the faithful, under similar scrutiny for their public involvement or lack thereof?
The process should now be an occasion for respectful, candid dialogue. It will be aided by the inclusion of more bishops and other religious, especially those who are canonists, theologians and pastoral ministers. As we wait for more information and for the L.C.W..R.’s formal public statement, we need to calm our hearts. As Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg noted on his blog (“The Nuns’ Story,” April 24), some investigations, like that of American women religious in the 1980s, improved understanding on both sides and strengthened working relationships. Let us pray that may be the case again.
The editors commentary appears in the May 14 issue, along with a Current Comment praising the work of women religious in the United States. You can read that piece here.