National Catholic Reporter

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Sisters' Stories

Vatican concerns puzzle resource center leaders

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SILVER SPRING, Md. -- One of two organizations named in the Vatican-ordered reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious advised women religious on their canonical and financial rights during the Vatican’s recent three-year apostolic investigation of U.S. women’s orders.

In its eight-page April 18 document calling for a reform of LCWR, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith mentions the Resource Center for Religious Institutes twice.

Speakers explore what Loretto order has to offer today

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NERINX, KY. -- “Today’s youth and young adults want what Lorettos already have,” Loretto Sr. Delores Kincaide told the Loretto jubilee gathering of hundreds of members and co-members here April 25. “A deeper spirituality, a supportive community, and a purpose that will change the world in which they live. Loretto is in a position now to consciously promote expansion by reaching out to these youth and others who desire what we already possess.”

Pope praises American nuns

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (May 18) expressed his "deep gratitude" to American nuns for their "fidelity and self-sacrifice," and he praised the U.S. bishops for their efforts to welcome immigrants.

The pontiff's comments on the sisters come just a month after the Vatican crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group that represents most American nuns. The group was accused of not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination.

Addressing a group of bishops from the United States who were in Rome for a regularly scheduled visit, Benedict said he hoped that the current phase of "discernment" would bear "abundant spiritual fruit" and revitalize women religious communities "in fidelity to Christ and the Church."

The pope called on the nuns to rediscover the "sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life" and stressed the need to strengthen communication between women religious and local church authorities.

In his speech to the bishops, Benedict also praised the church's "great generosity" towards immigrants in the United States.

Lorettos celebrate two centuries of touching lives

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Theirs was a meeting of the minds, and of faith. Like a Christ-impelled pebble dropped into the sea of humanity, their meeting created waves of movement.

She was Mary Rhodes, a young Maryland woman come to Kentucky to visit her brother, Bennett.

He was Fr. Charles Nerinckx, a transplanted Belgian priest who’d fled the European anti-Catholicism stoked by the French Revolution.

Christian Brother writes in support of sisters

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Brother William Brynda, of the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Glencoe, Miss., has sent NCR the following letter for publication, in support of Catholic sisters the Vatican criticizes in a recent report. Brynda said he also sent a copy to Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been appointed to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious going forward.

Brynda writes:

When will the patriarchal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church come to recognize and affirm the dignity and giftedness of women, especially the U.S. sisters, who through their charisms, gifts and talents have stimulated the development of the spirit, teachings and practices of the Second Vatican Council during the past 50 years? These consecrated religious, through their lived experiences, have chosen to live the gospel of the good news by caring and providing for the poor, the marginalized and the dispossessed. They have a commitment and dedication to the building of the kingdom though their care and concern for the people of God, which is the church as defined in the Second Vatican Council.

Sister reflects on recent Vatican actions

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The following piece, titled "Just Thinking," was sent to the National Catholic Reporter, for publication, by Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Sr. Joan Holden, of St. Louis:

I was just thinking about the latest mandate, fresh out of Rome, concerning the religious sisters in the United States. I wondered, “What would the founder of my religious congregation, Bishop Claude Dubuis (1869), have to say? What counsel would he give? Would he echo the words of a funny video, now traveling the Internet – “Sit down! Sit down!” Or would his first call be one of prayer – calling us to pray and to reflect upon the words of sacred scripture, especially Matthew 5:1-12, which sums up all of Christ’s teachings in the beatitudes.

Catholic teaching claims there are four marks of the church – the church is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic. Dare I add a fifth, for it is also persecuted! From the very beginning of Christianity, the church, meaning all of the people of God, has been severely persecuted, but mostly from outside the structure.

Former nuns write open letter to the USCCB

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The following letter was sent to the National Catholic Reporter by a former Sister of Mercy, and it is signed by 14 other women who were once members of religious communities. In a cover letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Helen Urbain-Majzler writes: "We would be grateful if you shared the contents of our letter with other member bishops."

The "Open letter to the U.S. Catholic Bishops" letter reads:

The Vatican crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) sends this message for religious women and average Catholics: there is no room for dissent; no opportunity for differing perspectives; no way to engage in dialogue about traditional, often narrowly-held, Catholic views. In a word, women religious leaders need to keep their ideas to themselves and simply follow the dictates and directions of Rome. Anything less than this position will be met with censure, public embarrassment, heavy-handedness, and even potential expulsion.

Protester at D.C. "Support the Sisters" vigil: "I'm angry, and this is the first protest I've ever been to"

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Late Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., about 75 protesters gathered in front of the sign that marked the entrance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops building, as part of a nationwide effort led by the Nun Justice Project. However, Kate Conmy, the organizer of the event in D.C., said the USCCB sign that was to be a landmark had been covered with a black tarp.

Conmy, who works for the Women's Ordination Conference, said most people learned about the vigil by visiting www.change.org, the website that hosts a petition started by the Nun Justice Project to support the sisters. She remembers one woman at the vigil saying: “I’m angry, and this is the first protest I’ve ever been to.”

The vigils will take place every Tuesday in May, and are expected to expand to more cities.

If you attended the vigil in Washington, D.C., or know someone who attended, please leave a comment.

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September 12-25, 2014

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