Saturday, June 9, 2012

Homily: “A New Spiritual Uprising in the Catholic Church” By Bridget Mary Meehan, Ordination of Donna Rougeux in Lexington, Ky., June 9, 2012

A new spiritual uprising is rocking the Catholic Church today.At the Vatican we see the “Monsignors Mutiny”a tale of betrayal, corruption and power struggles that has the potential of becoming a blockbuster movie that could rival the Da Vinci Code. One Italian paper even suggested that an unnamed laywoman had secretly ordered the butler to leak the secret documents which is referred to as the Vati-leaks. But the Vatican, of course, denies it all...”

In May 2012, hundreds of Irish priests called for an end to mandatory celibacy and for women’s ordination in an unprecedented challenge to the Vatican.
Like the woman in Luke’s Gospel whom Jesus declared free after being bent over for eighteen years, the Spirit is a movin’ in the courageous nuns. In response to the Vatican’s rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for their support of  women’s ordination, homosexuality and contraception, the Sisters are planning a bus trip to nine states to showcase their ministry to the poor and disenfranchised. 
Thousands of Catholics have attended prayer vigils and signed petitions in solidarity with the Sisters in the Nun Justice Project. One day, I hope we will have nun priests!
The Spirit is a movin’ in the women priests movement as we live Gospel equality now and ordain women like Donna Rougeux.

Donna will be ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in the second ordination of a woman priest in Lexington, Kentucky in the Unitarian Universalist Sanctuary. 

Together with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, the first woman ordained here four years ago, Donna is standing up in solidarity with all who are oppressed and marginalized for justice. As a woman priest, she is leading, not leaving the Catholic Church into a new era of inclusivity, partnership, equality and openness where all are welcome to receive sacraments. Everyone belongs at the Banquet Table of God’s boundless, abundant love. As the Irish writer, James Joyce, reminded us in Finnegan’s Wake, being Catholic means “here comes everybody.”

In Luke 13:10-13, when the synagogue leader expressed outrage that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, Jesus called the religious leaders, hypocrites and pointed out that this healing was for a daughter of Abraham and Sarah, who had suffered for 18 years. So, there are several take home messages here: 1) Jesus treated women as equals. 2) People have priority over rules and regulations. 3) Sexism is sinful and should always be challenged. 4) Our Compassionate God lifts up all who are bent over by the burden of patriarchy.
The good news is that the Spirit of God is renewing the church in a spiritual uprising in vibrant, grassroots communities.

 where the liturgical presiders include women priests, married priests, celibate priests and other leaders. 

Amazing Grace is at work in our midst! Three examples are here in Lexington, the newly named Resurrection Community in Cincinnati and the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland. I predict that in the next several years, hundreds of empowered ecclesial communities will rise up for justice and live the change they have dreamed of in our church!


We are living witnesses to the transformation, that one day will be affirmed in Vatican III, a Council of the People of God. Joel describes this passionate, outpouring of divine love on humankind in these words: “Your daughters and sons will prophesy, your elders will have prophetic dreams and your young people will see visions. I will pour out my Spirit even on those in servitude, women and men alike.” (Joel 3:1)

The institutional church is trying to keep women bent over when it refuses to recognize their call to the priesthood. No longer will we tolerate the Vatican’s practice of sexism, which is rooted in the misogynist attitude of church fathers like Tertullian who once said that women are the “gateway to the devil” and Thomas Aquinas who defined woman as a “defective male.”

The institutional church is trying to keep women bent over when it refuses to recognize their call to the priesthood. No longer will we tolerate the Vatican’s practice of sexism, which is rooted in the misogynist attitude of church fathers like Tertullian who once said that women are the “gateway to the devil” and Thomas Aquinas who defined woman as a “defective male.”
In a modern day inquisition, the Girl Scouts are facing an official inquiry by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The problem is their association with groups like Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and the Sierra Club because these organizations support contraception and family. We challenge the bishops for their unjust attack and  stand in solidarity with the Girl Scouts for their program of empowerment of girls. Let us feast on Girl Scout Cookies often!

If women priests were decision-makers in our church, women’s health care including contraception and universal health coverage would be major justice issues. We believe women have the divinely human right to make reproductive decisions on their own behalf --without consulting male priests or bishops.  98% of sexually-active Catholic women have used a method of contraception banned by the U.S. bishops.
A spiritual uprising in theology is evident today in the thinking of  brilliant theologians like Elisabeth Johnson, author of Quest for the Living God Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, and Sr. Margaret Farley, author of Just love, A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. Both books have been denounced by the hierarchy. After the pope censured Farley’s book, which is a contemporary ethical approach to same-sex relationships, masturbation, remarriage after divorce, it soared from obscurity to the top  of’s best-seller list - six years after it was published. In her book, Sr. Farley argues that same-sex marriage “can also be important in transforming the hatred, rejection, and stigmatization of gays and lesbians.” She wrote that “same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities.”

Women are silent and invisible and subordinate no more! We are speaking truth to power and the ministry of irritation is our forte!

Roman Catholic Women Priests Janice and Ree Hudson and Deacon Donna went to Rome last October to support Fr. Roy Bourgeois who four years ago stood here to witness for justice at Janice’s ordination. As you remember that resulted in big trouble for Roy, which has played out like an ecclesiastical soap opera!My favorite scene is the one where the Roman police are instructed NOT to arrest the women priests dressed in liturgical attire. The Italian police blocked Janice, Ree and Donna from entering the Vatican, but they did not haul them off to the police station like Fr. Roy and Erin Hanna of the Women’s Ordination Conference. Once again, as the world press recorded every minute of the drama, I was reminded that the Vatican is the gift that keeps on giving! Fr. Roy has recently published his story in a booklet entitled: “My Journey from Silence to Solidarity” which can be read online ( for copies call:706-682-5369)

In her own words, Donna shared this inspiring testimony explaining why she chose today’s reading for her ordination. “I am like the woman in the story who after Jesus laid his hand upon me, ‘stood up straight and began thanking God…’”
“In Ephesians (3:17-21) we read: ‘I pray that God, out of the riches of divine glory, will strengthen you inwardly with power through the working of the Spirit.’ I believe this is what happened to the bent over woman and to me. We were strengthened inwardly. I also think that until this happens we are unable to ‘grasp fully the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ's love.’ Christ's love is not just about putting on an 'all is well attitude'...It also involves working for justice and not just trying to please everyone to keep the peace. When we stand up and work to bring about the kin-dom, we don't make everyone happy. We even encounter excommunication and disdain from some. Standing up with inward strength means we have to rock the boat and that makes some people very unhappy. But it also brings us in a place where we can grasp more fully the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ's love.’”Amen, Donna, to rocking the boat of Peter and walking on water with Christ! I guarantee that you are in for quite a spiritual adventure! 
I believe that on a deep spiritual, mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries-old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men. 

For some like the Catholic hierarchy, women priests are a spiritual uprising. For millions of people the time has come for a holy shakeup that will bring new life, creativity and justice to the church and beyond.
The New Testament identifies the crucified Christ with the Wisdom of God. “…to those who are called, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 24 The connection in scripture is made between the crucified Jesus of Nazareth and the cosmic Risen Christ in Christ-Sophia. In this liturgy today we integrate this powerful image of Christ- Sophia in our prayer and song. 
Thanks to our music director, Kathleen Rosenberg, for the beautiful musical Mass of Christ-Sophia which she composed.

Now we ordain our beloved sister, Donna, who like the woman whom Jesus set free in the Gospel, will share God’s healing compassion with all those she encounters in her ministry. Like the woman who was healed in the Gospel, we, too, are set free to work for justice and to live Gospel equality now!

Friday, June 8, 2012

"In Solidarity with Nuns" / Show Your Support/ "We Are All Nuns" design Pass it on to others who are interested in standing along side the Sisters Who are being Challenged by the Vatican/Great for Tote Bags, T-Shirts/Mugs etc

"The Truth About Religious Freedom: USCCB Catholics Bishops - Debate is About Contraception and Whose Religious Freedom Are We Talking About"

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rarely lets the facts get in the way of their story.
In press releases during the past months, in alerts by state Catholic Conferences, in statements that they have made in various media outlets and in their official comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the bishops have explained why they oppose the HHS decision supporting access to no-copay contraception. In making their case, they have relied on spurious claims about religious liberty, conscience and science to attempt to mislead policymakers and the public.
The bishops’ arguments are italicized. The reality follows.
The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals.
  • Schools, universities, hospitals and Catholic charities will have a workaround under which insurers, not employers, must offer employees coverage for contraception when their employers object. Employees at these institutions deserve to benefit from the same access to healthcare as everybody else, and they should not be subject to discrimination just because of where they happen to work. Religious institutions or entities, like houses of worship, including Catholic ones, received an exemption, and do not need to comply with the law.
This is not about contraception; it’s about religious freedom.
  • The reality is that this debate is about both. It is about whether individuals have the right to follow their own consciences in making their own healthcare decisions, and it is about whether individuals have the right to freedom of and freedom from religion. Individuals have consciences, have healthcare needs and have religious liberty, and deserve to have these rights and needs respected and protected.
  • The question that matters in this debate is: whose religious freedom are we talking about? It is the job of the government to protect both individual rights in healthcare decisions and individual religious liberty, and to protect them both from institutional intrusion. This debate absolutely is about protecting the freedom of an employee, no matter where she works, to exercise her personal beliefs without the bishops imposing theirs upon her.
  • The bishops would have us believe that a school, a Taco Bell or a hospital has a “conscience” and “freedom of religion.” They do not. Individuals, according to our Catholic tradition, have consciences and deserve to exercise them without coercion. Individuals also deserve to have their freedom of and freedom from religion protected. Institutions—both secular and “religious institutions,” as well as “religious organizations”—do not have the right to claim “consciences” in order to trample on the conscience rights that properly belong to their employees.
  • This debate means a lot of things to a lot of different people. It may not be about contraception for the bishops, but for the everyday person who utilizes contraception, having affordable access to such services can mean many things. No-cost contraception for the average woman, including many Catholic women, can mean following her religious beliefs, following her conscience, protecting her health, saving money for her family, protecting her future or a myriad other things that we cannot be privy to. If the bishops succeed in eliminating coverage, it will most definitely be about contraceptive access, and all of the things that access means, to millions of Americans.
  • The debate is about both religious liberty and contraception, but the bishops’ end goal is clear: having failed to convince Catholics in the pews to follow their ban on contraception, they are attempting to eliminate all access for all people. One only has to look at a comment made by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, then Bishop Lori, during a Congressional hearing this spring, to glean where attempting to follow the bishops’ policy priorities on contraception would lead us. While he implied that workers whose employers refuse contraceptive coverage could simply go elsewhere to receive these services, such as family planning clinics supported by Title X or other public funds, Lori failed to mention that the bishops have opposed such programs for years. When President Nixon created Title X in 1970, the director of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) Family Life Division (later a bishop himself) testified before Congress that the bishops opposed such programs. In 1978, The USCC Secretary for Social Development and World Peace testified that the bishops supported universal health care—except for coverage of contraception. In 1989, Richard Doerflinger, who still serves as a spokesperson for the bishops, testified before a House committee that the bishops “have problems with” Title X. In 1991 and 1992, the bishops’ stated list of public policy priorities included “oppose reauthorization” of Title X.
The mandate forces these institutions and others to pay, against their conscience, for things they consider immoral.
  • It is incredible to suggest that an institution has a conscience. Institutions do not have consciences, individuals do. This rule merely evens the playing field by allowing individuals to decide whether or not to utilize contraceptive coverage.
  • In regard to individuals’ expenditures, our tax dollars go toward many things that we may not agree with, and the money from our insurance premiums likely goes toward coverage of many medical services that we may not agree with or need ourselves.
  • The institutional Catholic church enjoys a tax-preferred status and has a long history of seeking government funding streams— including support for Catholic schools, hospitals and programs run by Catholic Charities. Some politicians have claimed that tax-preferred status for organizations that provide reproductive healthcare services constitutes public funding of abortion or contraception. By this logic, the same tax breaks and government grants given to Catholic churches and charities for non-religious purposes would also qualify as direct government funding of religion—a constitutionally impermissible use of state funds. Catholic organizations cannot have their cake and eat it, too.
The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception.
  • These regulations require coverage of all FDA-approved methods of contraception, but they do not require coverage of abortion medications, such as RU-486. Emergency contraception (EC), such as Ella or Plan B, does not terminate existing pregnancies—it prevents a pregnancy from occurring, hence, it is a contraceptive. The bishops themselves have acknowledged that the provision and use of emergency contraception is permissible. Directive 36 of The Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services explicitly allows Catholic-sponsored hospitals to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors. Likewise, in 2010, the Catholic Health Association included a series of journal articles in its flagship publication, Catholic Health World, which dispelled the myths about emergency contraception and reiterated that organization’s commitment to providing EC in Catholic hospitals as part of compassionate care for survivors of sexual assault.
Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate.
  • Each of the individuals cited by the USCCB as evidence of “liberal” opposition to the mandate has traditionally opposed contraception and other reproductive healthcare services. There is no diversity of opinion or liberalism in repeating the talking points and toeing the line of the USCCB on this issue, as each of them has done. The majority of Catholics do not look to their bishops for how to vote—in fact, a mere 10 percent consider the bishops to be the sole arbiter in whether to should use contraception.
  • The Catholic bishops are not the same as the Catholic church. The Catholic church in the United States has 68 million people. Only about 300 of them are bishops. The bishops represent themselves, and not the majority of Catholics, when they give their opinions on healthcare policies and other social and political issues. American Catholics can and do speak for themselves, and they overwhelmingly support insurance coverage of preventive care for women, including family planning.
  • One only has to look at the recent Catholic-affiliated lawsuits against contraceptive coverage to recognize that there is certainly not a unity among Catholics on this issue, even among the bishops’ own dioceses. There are 43 plaintiffs in 12 lawsuits, but only 13 of these plaintiffs are dioceses. Meanwhile, there are 191 Catholic dioceses, 629 Catholic hospitals, 251 Catholic colleges and universities, many other Catholic-affiliated schools and charities and 68 million individual Catholics in the United States. Even if one includes the additional, individual lawsuits from Catholics and Catholic organizations filed by groups such as the Becket Fund, the number of those shouting the loudest against contraception is a drop in the bucket compared to the number and scope of Catholics and Catholic institutions in this country.
  • The majority of Catholics support equal access to the full range of contraceptive services and oppose policies that impede upon that access, including access to EC. Two-thirds of Catholics (65 percent) believe that clinics and hospitals that take taxpayer money should not be allowed to refuse to provide procedures or medications based on religious beliefs. A similar number, 63 percent, also believes that health insurance, whether private or government-run, should cover contraception. A strong majority (78 percent) of Catholic women prefer that their hospital offer emergency contraception for rape victims, while more than half (57 percent) want their hospital to provide it in broader circumstances. This support for the full range of contraceptive services is unsurprising, as restrictions such as refusal clauses or prohibitive costs affect Catholics just as often as non-Catholics—98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a modern method of birth control, mirroring the rates of the population at large (99 percent).
Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate.
  • Many religious and secular organizations, including Catholic ones, have also spoken out in favor of the regulations. A letter signed by representatives from more than 20 denominations and religiously-based organizations supporting the birth control regulations was issued in February.
The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates.
  • In those states with refusal provisions similar to those in the HHS regulations, institutions affiliated with the Catholic church, including hospitals and universities, have provided contraception to their employees without having to shutter their doors. Catholic Healthcare West, operating healthcare facilities in California and Arizona, has been providing contraceptive coverage to its employees since 1997—two years before the state of California passed legislation requiring employers to cover contraception and well before the California Supreme Court required institutions such as Catholic Charities to do so. Catholic Healthcare West’s employees were able to access contraception, and the system certainly didn’t shutter its doors. New York and California have refusal clauses identical to that contained in the HHS rule, and the sky has not fallen in either state for hospitals, schools or other institutions—or for the church.
The “accommodation” from the Obama Administration does not change anything.
  • While it is true that the administration did not choose to cave completely to the bishops’ demands, the reality is that the compromise announced on February 10, 2012, resulted in real changes—a possibility of loss of some insurance coverage—for millions of women and for the female dependents of all workers. By opening the door to a workaround for hospitals and schools, and by leaving the door closed to contraceptive coverage for women employed by churches, the final regulations announced by the Department of Health and Human Services allowed the bishops to place one foot over the threshold of denying contraceptive access to everyone.
  • The compromise announced by the administration will indeed result in a wait-and-see game—until August 2012 for some organizations and until August 2013 for others— but we disagree about whose wing and a prayer we should be worried about. For women working for Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions who hope to gain access to contraception, or those who hope to continue to have access to coverage, it remains to be seen whether their consciences and private, moral decisions will be respected by a workaround that places the onus on insurers to do the right thing—and on employers to let insurance companies do it.
The second-class-citizen religious institutions that object to coverage but aren’t exempted will still have to pay for contraception and violate their beliefs.
  • Just as institutions do not have a conscience, they are not citizens. Individuals have a conscience, and they enjoy citizenship. The only “second-class citizens” created by laws allowing employers to refuse coverage for medical services are women workers. It is absolutely discriminatory to allow the beliefs of employers to violate those of employees.
For-profit religious employers, secular employers, insurers and individuals are all stakeholders whose religious freedoms are threatened and who cannot escape from paying for things they don’t believe in.
  • We recognize the right of individual medical professionals to decline to provide services they consider immoral. However, it goes too far to grant such rights to an entire institution—such as a hospital or managed-care provider—or, for that matter, to allow blanket exclusions of coverage for certain healthcare services. The bishops would like to grant these exclusion rights to all institutions—as a top advisor to the USCCB stated, they will not rest until the owner of a “Taco Bell” can refuse coverage to his or her employees. This is not in keeping with our Catholic understanding of conscience.
The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did.
  • In truth, the bishops were quite strategic about the decision to “pick this fight.” On the same day that the Department of Health and Human Services public comment period regarding the then-pending contraceptive coverage rule closed (September 30, 2011), the USCCB announced the creation of their new “Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.” At the top of the list of “concerns” that provided the impetus for that committee’s creation was the contraceptive coverage requirement, despite the fact that the final rules had not been established and that public comments were still being processed.
  • If the bishops did not “pick this fight,” then they have an odd way of assuring the public that their opposition to contraceptive coverage is not, at least in part, political. The bishops, after all, have made it so. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, claimed that President Obama was “devious” in pursuing reproductive healthcare access and alleged that sexual equality efforts, which he opposes, were “driven by the Democratic agenda” in his state. Archbishop Peter Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, infamously compared President Obama to “Hitler and Stalin” due to the President’s support for contraceptive coverage.
  • The bishops have led the charge against contraception and have not been shy about promoting the rhetoric of those who hope to continue that campaign. Likewise, other conservatives have supported the bishops’ rhetoric. There is a reason why Mike Huckabee chose to state “We are all Catholics now” rather than courting the leaders of another faith, and it does not seem accidental that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, at one point chose to wade into the same hyperbolic speech regarding prostitution begun by Rush Limbaugh in a speech at a Catholic college in New York.
  • To understand the bishops’ mindset regarding the timing of the contraceptive battle, one has only to look to one of their grievances with the regulations: “If they turn out badly, their impact will not be felt until August 2013, well after the election.”
Contraception doesn’t decrease unplanned pregnancy or abortion, and it is not cost-neutral.
  • Numerous social science studies have demonstrated that contraception does indeed prevent unplanned pregnancy, and therefore abortions. To claim otherwise is patently false.
  • It is correct to state that contraception is not cost-neutral for insurance companies and employers: it is cost-saving. On the critical issue of cost-saving, however, a more important point is the fact that contraceptive coverage without copays puts money in women’s pockets. No-cost contraception allows women to act as moral agents in making the health decisions that are best for themselves and their families regardless of cost. Particularly for those women struggling during these tough economic times, no-cost contraceptive coverage frees women to direct the money they would otherwise spend on co-pays or the out-of-pocket cost of contraceptives towards putting food on the table, saving for their children’s or their own educations or other basic necessities.
Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women have not used contraceptives.
  • In 2008, the National Survey of Family Growth, a well-respected social science study from the Centers for Disease Control, found that ninety-eight percent of sexually active Catholic women had used a modern contraceptive method. This fact was corroborated by the Guttmacher Institute, a similarly well-respected research institution, in 2011. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Irish Times Series on Catholic Church by Patsy McGarry

Irish Times series
Patsy McGarry Jun.2, 2012
A new 'Irish Times' series begins today. Next week, Ireland hosts the 50th Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church. More than 80 per cent of Irish people still call themselves Catholic, but the church is out of touch and divided. Can it be repaired?
Friday What will the Irish Catholic Church look like in 20 years?

Vatican's Assessment of LCWR about Fear, not Doctrine by Sr. Fran Ferder May 29, 2012

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's April 18 doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not about doctrine. It is not primarily about protecting the faith or ensuring an ecclesiology of communion, no matter how many times these terms are woven through the report. It is fundamentally about fear -- fear of the loss of power -- and the willful use of dominative control to defend that power.
. . . .
The final report of the LCWR assessment reveals a desperate attempt on the part of some fearful and angry church leaders to protect their turf -- to maintain an all-male church leadership, to keep women and laypeople under their authority, and to shield the homophobic-homosexual subculture in the leadership of the Catholic church.

The pattern of using coercive intimidation to control others in one's household is called domestic abuse. . . . .
Whether through hits or humiliations, broken bones or broken spirits, threats of bodily harm or warnings of impending excommunication, the goal of abusers is the same: Assert absolute control. Wear the person down until he or she gives in or gives up. Use punishment if he or she dares to claim his or her own authority.

The most dangerous time in a household where domestic abuse is present is right after the person being abused has stood up to the abuser. Have too many members of LCWR claimed their own authority? The classic domestic abuser seeks one thing above all else: obedience to dictates. It is not surprising that obedience is alluded to on every page of the final doctrinal assessment document.
  • Abusers believe they are entitled to maintain power and control over those in their households (institutions).
  • They may believe they have an obligation to compel obedience for the benefit of the victim and the good of the household (church).
  • They do not identify their controlling and hurtful tactics as abusive and are insulted when others perceive them that way.
  • Perpetrators tend to perceive all interactions within relationships through a prism of compliance or disobedience.
  • Abusers tend to be insecure men who need to establish dominance to feel confident.

. . . . What kinds of people abuse others? While there is no single profile of the domestic abuser, research has identified characteristics frequently seen among perpetrators of all types. Ironically, there is not much difference between those who use their fists and those who use words alone to demand obedience.
. . . . Some male abusers have been found to harbor a secret loathing of females, considering them inferior. Since such attitudes are certainly present in the history of the church (read St. Jerome), it is possible that its influence still inhabits, consciously or the unconsciously, the collective mind of church leaders.

The persistent desire of hierarchical leaders to keep women under their control and out of their sphere of leadership, especially women theologians, suggests that the "Jerome Syndrome" might still be operative.
Read more
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Yes,  this is the reason that the Vatican fears women priests. Our agenda is a renewed priestly ministry in a more open, transparent, community-oriented, egalitarian, empowered church. Now you can see why the Old Boys Club goes after anyone or any group that supports women's ordination and/or women's empowerment. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

LCWR Statement, Support the Sisters/Nun Justice Site,Vatican Declares Year of Assault,

LCWR Press Release

LCWR Board June 1, 2012
The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women
Religious (LCWR) held a special meeting in Washington, DC from May 29-31 to review, and plan a response to, the report issued to LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The board members raised concerns about both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared. 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 board determined that the conference will take the following steps:
  • On June 12 the LCWR president and executive director will return to Rome to meet with CDF prefect Cardinal William Levada and the apostolic delegate Archbishop Peter Sartain to raise and discuss the board's concerns.
  • Following the discussions in Rome, the conference will gather its members both in regional meetings and in its August assembly to determine its response to the CDF report.
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.
Contact: Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM - LCWR Director of Communications - 301-588-4955 (office) - 301-672-3043 (cell) -
June 1, 2012

Support the Sisters

Want to take action to support the sisters? Visit the Nun Justice site.
AlleluiaSisters Under Scrutiny
For ongoing coverage and updates, visit: Sisters Under Scrutiny on the National Catholic Reporter site
Visit the Support our Catholic Sisters Facebook page.

Recent articles on the LCWR situation

Vatican Declares "Year of Assault"

John C. Sivalon, M.M May 27, 2012
Under the guise of a "Year of Faith," the Vatican has launched an all-out assault on any theology or interpretation of Vatican II based on what it calls a "Hermeneutic (Interpretation) of Rupture." This theological assault is articulated in the document known as "Porta Fidei" written by Benedict XVI and further specified in a document titled "Note on Recommendations for the Implementation of the Year of Faith" which was developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both of these documents are cited by Cardinal Levada in his statement on the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The rationale for that assessment and other punitive moves that have been made in recent months (Caritas International, educational institutes, and the Girl Scouts) must be understood in the broader context of this special "year of assault."
The real crux of the issue according to the "Note" is a "correct understanding" of Vatican II over against "erroneous interpretations." Benedict likes to refer to these interpretations as being based on a "hermeneutic of discontinuity" while referring to his own interpretation as being based on a "hermeneutic of renewal." In truth, better labels for these respectively, are a "hermeneutic of mission" over against Benedict's "hermeneutic of retrenchment."
. . . .
As modern Catholics celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, we have entered into a new chapter of church history. The Council that was declared to open the windows is now being reinterpreted as closed shutters, protecting the Church from the gale force winds of a world searching for spiritual authenticity. While said to be a time of renewal, the "Year of Faith" is really dedicated to the idolatry of doctrine, power and hierarchy. The sisters in their communal service to the Church and world, who not only take a vow of poverty but actually live that vow without privilege, status or accumulation of wealth are a vivid and prophetic contrast to the inauthenticity of the call to retrenchment masquerading as renewal.
Read more

National Catholic Reporter Coverage of Vatican's Criticism of Margaret Farley's Best Seller, "Just Love"

Full reactions from the Vatican, Farley, McDermott, and other theologians:

"Dear Pope: About Margaret" by Dr. Marie Fortune

"I am just writing to thank you for denouncing Sr. Margaret Farley's excellent book, "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics." This is the best PR any author could possibly get and, as a result, the book has soared to the Best Seller list at Amazon overnight. I realize that God works in strange and mysterious ways, but this is too good.
It seems to come as some surprise to you and the Vatican that many Christian scholars, including Catholic ones, bring intellectual rigor and critical thought firmly grounded in scripture and tradition to some of the most urgent issues of our time. Sr. Farley is one of the most respected of these scholars.
More importantly to me, she was my professor and mentor in seminary. She was the reason I chose Yale Divinity School. She gave me a firm foundation in Christian ethics and taught me the skills of critical thinking in applying the tradition to pastoral ministry and activism. She more than anyone, pointed me in the direction of my vocation and I am forever grateful for that..."