Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Religious Women, Hierarchy at Odds in Synod Preparation

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Religious Women, Hierarchy at Odds in Synod Preparation

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - A quiet, simmering tension between church hierarchy and key religious leaders has become more visible as religious congregations prepare for the October 1994 synod on "Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and the World."

Women's and men's congregations worldwide responded to Rome's preparatory synod document, or lineamenta, to meet a Nov. 1 synod secretariat deadline.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, for example, contends that a need exists for mutual acknowledgment of episcopal responsibility for the faith and unity of the church, on the one hand, and religious leaders' responsibility for direction of their own institutes on the other.

"In many ways the synod, like other official church convocations," wrote the LCWR national board, "stands before the judgment of the church's women, and other women as well, in an age that finds the practice of exclusively male groups making decisions for women incomprehensible."

The LCWR response has been circulated to its members, representing 90 percent of the 94,000 Catholic sisters in the United States. The organization has asked to be included in the synod's formal sessions.

LCWR commented on the "exclusion and denigration of women" in the church. "Lack of participation in decision-making, exclusionary language and ritual, and patriarchal structures run counter to movements of reform in society and to the gospel itself," the LCWR response stated, emphasizing the need to reinterpret each congregation's mission in the light of contemporary needs. …

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