H. Res. 441

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

September 22, 2009.

Whereas the social, cultural, and political contributions of Catholic sisters have played a vital role in shaping life in the United States;

Whereas such women have joined in unique forms of intentional communitarian life dedicated to prayer and service since the very beginnings of our Nation's history, fearlessly and often sacrificially committing their personal lives to teaching, healing, and social action;

Whereas the first Catholic sisters to live and work in the United States were nine Ursuline Sisters, who journeyed from France to New Orleans in 1727;

Whereas at least nine sisters from the United States have been martyred since 1980 while working for social justice and human rights overseas;

Whereas Maura Clark, MM, Ita Ford, MM, and Dorothy Kazel, OSU were martyred in El Salvador in 1980;

Whereas Joel Kolmer, ASC, Shirley Kolmer, ASC, Kathleen McGuire, ASC, Agnes Mueller, ASC, and Barbara Ann Muttra, ASC were martyred in Liberia in 1992;

Whereas Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN was martyred in Brazil in 2005;

Whereas Catholic sisters established the Nation's largest private school system and founded more than 110 United States colleges and universities, educating millions of young people in the United States;

Whereas there were approximately 32,000 Catholic sisters in the United States who taught 400,000 children in 2,000 parochial schools by 1880, and there were 180,000 Catholic sisters who taught nearly 4,500,000 children by 1965;

Whereas today, there are approximately 59,000 Catholic sisters in the United States;

Whereas Catholic sisters participated in the opening of the West, traveling vast distances to minister in remote locations, setting up schools and hospitals, and working among native populations on distant reservations;

Whereas more than 600 sisters from 21 different religious communities nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers alike during the Civil War;

Whereas Catholic sisters cared for afflicted populations during the epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, and influenza during the 19th and early 20th centuries;

Whereas Catholic sisters built and established hospitals, orphanages, and charitable institutions that have served millions of people, managing organizations long before similar positions were open to women;

Whereas approximately one in six hospital patients in the United States were treated in a Catholic facility;

Whereas Catholic sisters have been among the first to stand with the underprivileged, to work and educate among the poor and underserved, and to facilitate leadership through opportunity and example;

Whereas Catholic sisters continue to provide shelter, food, and basic human needs to the economically or socially disadvantaged and advocate relentlessly for the fair and equal treatment of all persons;

Whereas Catholic sisters work for the eradication of poverty and racism and for the promotion of nonviolence, equality, and democracy in principle and in action;

Whereas the humanitarian work of Catholic sisters with communities in crisis and refuge throughout the world positions them as activists and diplomats of peace and justice for the some of the most at risk populations; and

Whereas the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit is sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and will open on May 16, 2009, in Cincinnati, Ohio: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors and commends Catholic sisters for their humble service and courageous sacrifice throughout the history of this Nation; and

(2) supports the goals of the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit, a project sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and established to recognize the historical contributions of Catholic sisters in the United States. 

James Martin, SJ

 

Comments

Anonymous | 9/29/2009 - 12:10pm
I am happy to see that our civil leaders recognize the great contributions of women religious in the US and LCWR in particular.  I cannot help but see the counter-point to Cardinal Rode's Apostolic Visitation (Investigation?) of these same communities and the general lack of appreciation for the sacrifice and dedication of these women which emanates from Rome.
Now I learn that US Bishops are being asked to pay for this "visitation".
http://ncrnews.org/documents/rode_letter.pdf
I'm sending a letter to my ordinary which will contain clauses something like these:
Whereas I am a Catholic who has benefitted directly from the work of women religious in the US and is extremely grateful for their selfless dedication to the Gospel;
Whereas I give money to this diocese through my parish and direct appeals from your office: now, therefore, be it resolved that I strongly object to the current Apostolic Visitation of these US women's religious communities and implore you to decline Cardinal Rode's request for funds to support it.
Anonymous | 9/30/2009 - 10:41am
"Start defending the Sisters who taught so many of us to read and write and know the difference between right and wrong."
Most LCWR sisters have not been active in Catholic schools for two generations. There are fundamental issues with many of the LCWR congregations. This is reality that must be faced. It is not a progressive verse traditionalist thing. 
"Why are the U.S. Bishops so cowardly?  Why are they refusing to mix it up with the perpetrators of this "investigation"?  The Sisters deserve much better."
Do you find it interesting that the Vatican is also investigating the traditionalist Legionaires of Christ?  The investigations are not the slogan centered "Patriarchial oppressors" verse the progressive sisters". Rather, it is an investigation into failed leadership, regardless of the orientation.
 
Anonymous | 9/29/2009 - 8:45pm
I thought that this was great. So many wonderful women have given so much. Last night I was in my theology class and our instructor was speaking about her life. She is a religous sister. She spoke about how her life has been so happy as a religious. I can tell you that my own life is so deeply enriched, intellectually and spiritually - practically as well, by knowing her.
When I was a kid, I had, for the most part, the most wonderful nuns in my life. This was in the 60's. Casual cruelty and ridiculous standards were not the issue - we had standards and we learned, but we also learned so much about joy, giving, hope and life.
At least I did and I have always been grateful for that.
Thanks for posting this, in contrast to the tone of vilificaiton found on so many pages in regards to the women.
Anonymous | 9/29/2009 - 11:55pm
Finally, some good news for the Sisters.  So many of these loving, selfless, hard working servants of the Reign of God have been stunned and hurt to realize the Vatican is "investigating" them, and using "grand jury" investigation techniques to control and oppress them with a process that leaves the "investigated" little recourse to defend themselves.  The "investigation" is not just stupid; it is insulting. 
To add even more insult to injury, these often financially stressed orders of religious women (most Sisters in the USA get $30 to $50 spending money a month!) have to pay the expenses of those who are sent to investigate them. 
Come on U.S. Bishops!  Get a clue.  Start defending the Sisters who taught so many of us to read and write and know the difference between right and wrong.  Why are the U.S. Bishops so cowardly?  Why are they refusing to mix it up with the perpetrators of this "investigation"?  The Sisters deserve much better.  It is strange to see the U.S. Congress making a more intelligent response to this insanity than our own religious leaders.
Anonymous | 9/29/2009 - 6:58pm
How lovely! I hope all Catholics (and non-Catholics!) read this and remember to give thanks for the many loyal, loving and hard-working sisters who've shaped Catholic (and non-Catholic!) America.
Anonymous | 9/29/2009 - 4:40pm
I cannot help but see the counter-point to Cardinal Rode's Apostolic Visitation (Investigation?) of these same communities and the general lack of appreciation for the sacrifice and dedication of these women which emanates from Rome.
I would add...
Whereas the number of nuns within the LCWR has declined drastically.  Whereas most of the remaining nuns are retired and entire orders will go extinct or "merge" in the coming years. Whereas a large number of the LCWR orders are no longer financially solvent and for a variety of reasons, cannot provide for their retired members, an Apostolic Visitation in needed.
At the end of the day, the LCWR has been substituting slogans for leadership for a long time. Slogans, both progressive and conservative simply cannot substitute for leadership.
 
Anonymous | 10/1/2009 - 12:55pm
"Thousands of sisters have taught in the schools these past decades, many from LCWR congregations."
That number what ever it is, is far smaller after the mass exodus of nuns from Catholic schools. I never saw a sister in my Catholic school experience and I am 40 years old. As such, I have little bonding or identity with current congregations. Multiply that by millions and that is a component part of the LCWR problems.  
The failure of leadership is with those who have made religious life so unattractive to women, and many of those who made the life so unattractive for the Sisters are males in our clerical hierarchy who are unwilling and unable to deal with women as equals.
No, the leadership failure was LCWR failing to...
-realize that catholic religious cngregations are far different socilogicaly than business, law and medicine.
-that people actively seeking a religiously centered life usually prefer clear doctrine (evangelical churches thrive, secularized mainstream protestant chuches are in decline)
-They also confused their own 1970s revolutionary spirit as being part of the catholic mainstream. Instead, it was part of the secular world.
-They lost touch with mainstream Catholics who are not heavily interested in eco spirituality or the new age.  The decline in support of LCWR congregations was gradual, most Catholics simply voted with their feet and stopped sending checks and vocations rather than challenging the sisters. 
 
Anonymous | 9/30/2009 - 6:58pm
Rick Malloy, Sisters have given money to Planned Parenthood and Emily's List. Sisters have worshipped the creation rather than the creator.  I would hardly say they did nothing wrong. 
Anonymous | 9/30/2009 - 5:01pm

Well, if there EVER was a reason to investigate the stuffing out of US sisters, this is it! 
They must all be godless commie-loving sister-travelers to get THIS kind of an award!
We need more Vatican investigation.


Anonymous | 9/30/2009 - 3:18pm
Dear John whatever your last name is:
The Legionaires of Christ are being investigated because things done wrong, e.g their founder's failings, have come to light.  The sisters have done nothing wrong.
Thousands of sisters have taught in the schools these past decades, many from LCWR congregations.  All the many thousands of religious women in the USA have done the past 40 years is quietly and faithfully served the people of God as teachers, social workers, pastoral associates, college professors, administrators and in hundreds of other ministries.
With some 25% of their number with earned Ph.Ds, the Sisters in the USA are the most highly educated group of people in the histroy of the planet.  Priests and Bishops are certainly not as well educated (which may be one reason some Bishops and Priests are so threatened by such women).  Read SISTERS IN ARMS:CATHOLIC NUNS THROUGH TWO MILLENIA by Jo Ann Kay Cunningham or SISTERS:CATHOLIC NUNS AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA by Wall Street Journal reporter John Fialka.
The failure of leadership is with those who have made religious life so unattractive to women, and many of those who made the life so unattractive for the Sisters are males in our clerical hierarchy who are unwilling and unable to deal with women as equals.  As other institutions and professions (medicine, law, business, education) have welcomed women into their ranks (e.g., the presidents of Harvard, Princeton and Penn are female). The church has tried to keep women in the middle ages.  It isn't working.
Now those same church leaders decide to investigate the sisters.  What if the Sisters declared that they were doing an investigation of Priests and Bishops, for which the Priests and Bishops would have to pay, the results of which would not be available for refutation by said Priests and Bishops?  How many men would put up with that scenario?