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Sisters' Stories

"Support the sisters" vigils continue around the country

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Prayer vigils were held in several cities around the country Tuesday, as protesters gathered in front of local churches - for the third consecutive week, in some cases - to pray and show support for Catholic sisters criticized by the Vatican in a recent report.

Read about the protest in front of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral here, about the protest in Seattle here, and the one in Toledo, Ohio, here.

For more photos from around the country, go here.

Nationwide vigils aim to demonstrate solidarity with sisters

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From Alaska to South Texas, to Washington, D.C., people gathered outside Catholic churches and cathedrals in about a dozen cities earlier this month to pray, sing and show support for the American nuns criticized in a recent Vatican report.

Organizers of the vigils say they hope these acts of solidarity will inspire the Vatican to rescind the document that places the Leadership Conference of Women Religious under the authority of an archbishop -- a move that has left many bewildered and angry.

NCR reader writes Cardinal Levada in support of sisters

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Eileen Ford, of Rockport, Mass., mailed the following column and cover note to Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

She has sent it to NCR, for publication:

Dear Sir,

I hope you will read the following article in the spirit in which it was written - as a tribute to those who have served the Church faithfully.

When will you investigate the bishops who have never been held accountable for their negligence and are still in positions of power and honor?

Catholics are watching this abuse of power by the Vatican and the Church will continue to implode if you continue to persecute sisters and protect bishops.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Eileen M. Ford

Ford, a contributor to The Gloucester Daily Times, writes a monthly column titled Insights and Outbursts. (A similar version of this column appeared on the newspaper's website.)

Insights and Outbursts: To the 'strong and lonely advocates'

Eileen Ford

"Institutions that claim power over our nature will have to pay nature's denied due, and will end by abusing their flock."

LCWR the 'elephant in the room' at celebration of San Francisco archbishop

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COMMENTARY

San Francisco Catholic Charities honored Archbishop George Niederauer at its annual Loaves and Fishes event April 29. While he was being honored for his leadership and support of Catholic Charities programs and services, it was obvious that everyone at the banquet, regardless of where they come down on religious liberty, women religious, gay marriage or any of the other hot issues within our church wanted also to honor this good man for his most important role -- being the pastor and shepherd of his flock.

The main speaker of the evening was his friend and predecessor Cardinal William Levada.

I have always loved the phrase "elephant in the room," a metaphor for an obvious truth or controversial issue momentarily unaddressed. The elephant in the Grand Ballroom of the Palace Hotel that night was Rome's recent crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, perhaps initiated by bishops in America, but led by William Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Protection of the Faith.

Grassroots group plans May 29 rally near Vatican Embassy

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A group of Washington, D.C.-area friends are starting a grassroots movement to show support for Catholic sisters, and have announced a rally near the Vatican Embassy from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29. Their press release has more details:

Catholics, former Catholics, and others whose lives have been profoundly touched by Catholic sisters are holding a rally near the Vatican Embassy to support and stand in solidarity with the Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR), an organization that represents 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. The rally is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden, 3201 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC. At 1 p.m., rally participants will process to the Vatican Embassy at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue, NW to deliver a letter to the papal nuncio that expresses their deep disappointment and sadness at the Vatican action, and convey their total and complete support for the Catholic sisters. The rally is a grassroots effort, and not sponsored by a particular interest group.

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.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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