In a National Public Radio (NPR) interview, the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has defended her group against Vatican criticisms, and indicated that the LCWR is still weighing its response to a Vatican mandate for reform.
Sister Pat Farrell said that the criticism of the LCWR, made public by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after an apostolic visitation of the group, centers on the group’s unwillingness to follow the policy directions of the hierarchy, rather than active resistance. The Vatican report, she said, concentrates on “issues we tend to be more silent about when the bishops are speaking out more clearly about some things.”
However, Sister Farrell insisted that the LCWR would continue to push for reform in the Church, saying that “there’s a need for a genuine dialogue and there doesn’t seem to be a climate of that in the Church right now.”
Repeating a theme that has been raised frequently by LCWR defenders, Sister Farrell said that the nuns represented by the umbrella group “stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives.” For that reason, she said, their perspective is different from that of the American bishops.
Regarding the question of women’s ordination, Sister Farrell said that the LCWR advocated that step prior to the Vatican’s definitive statement that women cannot be ordained. “Since then,” she said, “the Leadership Conference has not spoken publically about the ordination of women.”
The Vatican critique of the group had pointed out that LCWR conventions regularly heard from speakers who are associated with the drive for women’s ordination. Farrell did not address that point directly, but said: “Imposing a silence doesn’t necessarily change people’s thinking but we are in a position to continue to be very concerned that the position of women in the church be recognized.”
Source: Catholic Culture
United States: Vatican issues clarification; commentators offer mixed reactions.