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.

Tim Reidy

Comments

4981920 | 5/4/2012 - 4:28pm
''We need to calm our hearts''  Do we???  When I read that I hear: ''Be a good little girl, behave, be quiet''  Been there, done that - it doesn't work!  It doesn't work when serious abusive behavior needs to be addressed.
Sergio Leiseca | 5/3/2012 - 11:31am
good morning,
I could not agree more with you:  we need to be calm and respectful.
The following information, published on 4/27/2012 by Catholic News Service (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1201700.htm), answers most of the questions you raised.  Your readers will find the information helpful
(1)  How did it originate?:   "1971: Some nuns who disapprove of LCWR's new directions create a new organization, the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis. They are concerned that what they consider necessary, distinctive elements of religious life - such as a common identifying garb, community life and religious obedience to a superior as traditionally understood - are disappearing among American sisters. In the early 1970s the consortium seeks recognition from Rome as an alternative conference to the LCWR".
(2)  Who were the petitioners?:  Perhaps, the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis and the Institute on Religious Life.  "The Institute on Religious Life is established to promote vocations and religious life in the United States. The Chicago-based organization is open to laity, priests and men religious as well, but women religious - most of them linked with the consortium - make up the bulk of its membership".
(3)  Was the U.S. bishops’ conference ever involved or consulted? When and how?: "1983: Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco is named by Pope John Paul to conduct a Vatican-mandated study of U.S. religious life. He transforms the study into a nationwide dialogue over the next three years. The study is completed in 1986 with a 152-page report to Rome".  "1987: As a follow-up to the Quinn study, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the LCWR decide to reinforce strengthened bishop-religious relations on an ongoing basis with a new Tri-Conference Commission of Religious and NCCB.  1988: The Forum of Major Superiors, a new organization of women superiors formed in 1987 by the Institute on Religious Life, unsuccessfully petitions the bishops for a place on the commission".
 
(4)  When and why and at whose request were Network and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes added to the inquiry?: I suspect in 1987.

take care and have a nice day.
Rick Fueyo | 5/3/2012 - 10:01am
Jesus is boss, as the concrete normative example, which the Curia seems to forget in their Cartman "Respect my Authority" obsession.  Such an obsession with exercising power over others as a substitute for actual credible authority.
Thomas Farrell | 5/3/2012 - 9:07am
The pope and Vatican intervened in the operation of the Society of Jesus in the 1980s, when I was in the Jesuits. In light of the more recent intervention of the pope and the CDF regarding the LCWR, perhaps the pope and the CDF will launch a refresher intervention against the Jesuits in the near future. It's important to the pope and his allies, the bishops, to show everybody who's boss.
Rick Malloy | 5/2/2012 - 11:15pm
Amen!  About time we Jesuits spoke up.

Here's an email from a friend in light of the recent attack on the Sisters after he read the NYTimes.

Sadly, I have answered for myself one of the questions Dowd poses in the article. "How do you take spiritual direction from a church that seems to be losing its soul?" I don't.  I won't go to Mass and am looking for a new church.

So I sent him the America's Bill Byron article on why people are leaving the Church.

Great article. Thanks for sharing. I have met Father Byron although I don't know him well. Can relate to many of the reasons people leave the church/not attend Mass. One of mine which is slightly different is this one. I suffer from rapid pulse when the Homily begins. I am always concerned that the priest will say something so offensive that I will need to leave. Among the litany I could give from my history...." Disease is God's punishment for sin"...(while my Mother was dying of Scleroderma)..."Voting for Al Gore would be un-Catholic and offensive to God". Other than you and my father's cousin (also a Jesuit) I can't think of many Priest's who really want to engage in real discourse on issues. I'm 54. I already get all of the rules and why I'm not going to follow them....

My fellow priests, either we listen to people, or we will have no people listening to us.

JIM MCCREA | 5/2/2012 - 9:24pm
I thought the commentary from America was a bit wimpy.
Carlos Orozco | 5/2/2012 - 9:19pm
Yeah, right. The Pope must be trembling.
Rick Fueyo | 5/2/2012 - 12:35pm
Well done.  I missed my Bishop's (Bishop Lynch) piece, which I wil read.