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LCWR Leadership for What?

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I admire Sister Joan Chittister, benefit from her writing and face none of the challenges that confront her as an influential Catholic woman.

But I respectfully submit that her most recent column in which she calls for bold leadership from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is lacking a key element.

She invokes the history of splendid service rendered by American sisters as an appeal for support of their contributions at a time when Rome is questioning their fidelity and integrity.

That's fine, but redundant and deficient. Redundant because it echoes other efforts to achieve a goal that's already been achieved. American Catholics, with few exceptions, are deeply grateful to sisters for running practically everything that has kept Catholicism alive.

But how does that thankful salute change the nature and directions of the Vatican's accusations and condescensions against those sisters?

Sadly, it's largely beside the point. It would be comforting to think that women could simply enlarge their post-Vatican renewal without confronting the bias against them that blocks their progress toward equality in the church.

Dallas bishop welcomes LCWR - with media absent

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Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell warmly welcomed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on the first evening of its annual gathering, in Dallas, Texas Aug. 10, several women religious reported.

He spoke before some 750 women religious. However, his welcoming address was officially closed to the media. No written remarks were available, according to LCWR Communications Director Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Annmarie Sanders.

"We were pleased," she told NCR, "with the bishop's warm welcoming words and the positive things he had to say about women religious."

Earlier in the day Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, addressed the LCWR, but the media was kept from entering the room in which she spoke.

SNAP to LCWR: model compassion for sex abuse victims

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Standing in a 105 degree temperature outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Dallas, four members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a press conference as heads of women religious communities were checking in inside the hotel lobby at the outset of the annual gathering for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The SNAP assembly included Steve Theisen, Therese Albrecht, David Clohessy and Lisa Kendzior.

LCWR meets under tight media security

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You have to feel sorry for U.S. women religious leaders. They are under attack from the Vatican for being followers of the gospels and servants of the church. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), meeting here in Dallas for the next three days, is facing twin Vatican investigations, one a “doctrinal” inquiry and the other a look into the “quality of life” of women religious communities in the U.S. This has been very upsetting to the women, especially given the fact they believe they have been very faithful to the church. Visitations are being made to the religious communities and all community leaders have been asked to keep their silence on these visits.

Most of the women want to cooperate – or at least to appear to cooperate --with the investigators, knowing that any appearance of defensiveness will be used against them. So the pressure is on and it is showing here in Dallas.

Sadly familiar view from our Dallas hotel window

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Checked in this afternoon at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas, site of the annual Leadership Conference of Women Religious gathering. At the check in desk a clerk asked if I had any special room in mind. I answered that one with a view of the area would be appreciated. "You can see the downtown area," she remarked handing me the card key. Upon entering the room I went to the window, opened it, and saw a familiar site, long ago etched into my consciousness, the book depository out of which Lee Harvey Osward shot President Kennedy in November, 1963. It remains a haunting site. You can see the view my wife and I see as we look through the 10th story hotel window. Oswald shot Kennedy from the top floor, sixth window from the left. What a tragedy.

Michigan oil spill increases concerns about tar sand pipelines

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Echoing the BP gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, up to a million gallons of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline into the waterways of southwestern Michigan last week in what the federal government is calling the most destructive oil spill in Midwestern history.

Environmental experts say the impact of this spill is only a preview of greater potential problems to come if proposed new pipelines are built, especially in Canada where extraction of tar sands in Alberta will require extensive pipelines.

Read about the spill in OnEarth, the news Web page from the Natural Resources Defense Council Web page.

Tom Fox blogs, tweets from LCWR meeting in Dallas

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NCR editor Tom Fox is in Dallas this week for the annual national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Check back here for blog posts and updates about the happenings over there the next couple of days.

Until then check out Fox's Twitter account where's he's posting short updates about the goings-on. His username there is @NCRTomFox and his page can be found at twitter.com/ncrtomfox

Here's a sample of what Fox has 'tweeted' so far:

At 11:30 PM CDT: Arrived in Dallas for the annual LCWR gathering. Lots on the table for these women religious.

At 11:30 PM: Look out of my Dallas hotel room window and can see the building - and window - from which Kennedy was shot. Unbelievable.

At 12:30 PM: Joan Chittister addresses LCWR in a column Wednesday on NCR website at www.ncronline.org.

At 2:30 PM: First impression at LCWR meeting: tight security most unbecoming. Women walking around talking into lapels.

How the towns and farms are faring

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Interested in the welfare of U.S. rural areas and small towns? Feel as if rural America is a kind of second class citizen in U.S. public policy? Visit the Center for Rural Affairs Web site for continuous updates on the rural United States and rural community development.

"The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit by rural Nebraskans and has since grown to a nationally recognized policy analysis and advocacy organization focused on the upper Midwest and Great Plains. In recent years our national grassroots base has grown to nearly 30,000 individuals including people in all 50 states. Our mission is to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities."

Their site also includes a Blog for Rural America. The latest entry is an interesting one about virtual Farmers' Markets.

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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