Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A 'Hostile Takeover' of Women Religious

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A 'Hostile Takeover' of Women Religious

Article excerpt

The Vatican attac:kson Catholic: sisters will sap the church's impact in the world.

AFTER THE VATICAN'S "hostile takeover" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in ApriJ. I was particularly struck by one joke I encountered: "Go Catholic ... and leave the thinking to us:"

I laughed-but not much. That one, it seems, is too close to the truth these days.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). a major educational center for superiors of Catholic women's religious orders in the U.S., was launched in 1956 at the urging of the Vatican. Foryears. it has been a venue where officers of every congregation of women religious are invited to meet. study. and consider together the role and place of women religious in the resolution of the issues of the time. Now the LCWR has been put under the control of three bishops: Peter Sartain ofSeatt1e; Leonard Blair of Toledo. Ohio; and Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield., Illinois.

The officers and body of the LCWRall superiors. prioresses, or other officials of major, longstanding institutions-are no longer authorized to plan its programs, engage its speakers. or create and implement its structures. Instead., Sartain, Blair. and Paprocki have been appointed to oversee the group: to approve its programs, create its constitutions, determine its operational procedures, and definethe content onts conferences. As in, "Leave the thinking to us:'

As in. women can't do it themselves. Or. women aren't moral agents. Or. women don't know what they're doing. Or. the.girls need to be controIled. Or, father knows best

To sap the LCWR"avision andspirit. risktaking and courage-the same qualities that over the years have opened convents in the wastelands) the badlands. and the marginalized ethnic communities of the United States-will drain the church ofbotb presence and impact. And it will do so in a period when we have nevermore needed compassion, care, presence, risk. and understanding.

The tact that there is a "magisterium:' a body of the church composed of the bishops and under the authority of the pope, is not the problem. The tact that the role of the magisterium is to teach and interpret the rules of the faith is not the problem either. …

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