Say it isn’t fair, but when the Vatican announced Jan. 30 it had begun a study of U.S. women’s religious congregations, I couldn’t help but recall the utterly failed effort by the U.S. bishops in the late 1980s and early 1990s to write a pastoral on women. They were coming off a high then, having written pastorals on peace (1983) and justice (1986). Pastorals were the way of the day then. But before the bishops abandoned this effort, retreating as they did with their ecclesial stoles tucked between their knees, they had become the butt of church jokes and had alienated a sizable number of women.
Facing uncertainty, and perhaps some alarm, among women religious in the United States about a new apostolic visitation ordered by the Vatican, the American sister handling communications for the project has said its aim is not to impose a particular model of religious life but rather to help “revitalize and renew” all kinds of congregations.
Sr. Eva-Maria Ackerman, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, spoke by telephone from her office in St. Louis, where until recently she led the Office for Consecrated Life in the St. Louis archdiocese.
A native of Texas, Ackerman will assist Mother Clare Millea, the General Superior of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who was appointed Apostolic Visitator by Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Millea will eventually file a report for Rodé.
The Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has begun an Apostolic Visitation or comprehensive study of institutes of women religious in the United States.
The action was initiated by the Congregation’s prefect, Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, C.M. The decree, issued Dec. 22, 2008, indicated the Visitation is being undertaken in order to look into the quality of the life of the members of these religious institutes.
WASHINGTON -- Religious leaders hailed President George W. Bushs signing of a bill that continues U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking across the globe.
The chairman of the U.S. bishops migration committee said that reauthorizing the anti-trafficking law was an important step toward eradicating this scourge.
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City said in a statement, President Bush has done much to elevate public awareness about human trafficking and should be thanked for his leadership. He encouraged President-elect Barack Obama and the incoming Congress to remain vigilant and continue to work to end this abominable practice.
Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 in an Oval Office ceremony Dec. 23.
The Catholic Church would benefit from having more women in senior-level positions at the Vatican, Cherie Blair said during a conference on the church's role in defending women's rights.
"Just as diversity between and within the sexes enriches human life and strengthens our civil society, so, too, I believe would it strengthen the church if we could see more women in leadership roles within it," she said.
Blair -- a lawyer who specializes in human rights and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- spoke Dec. 12 at a conference organized by Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.
Titled "Women and Human Rights," the one-day conference was held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Blair's participation had been criticized by some Web sites which said the Catholic Blair was a pro-abortion public figure who did not live out church teachings.
The Angelicum refused to cancel Blair's engagement.
Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a longtime pacifist who is known widely for his opposition to U.S. military policy, faces near-certain excommunication from the Catholic church for his outspoken advocacy of womens ordination.
Bourgeois was notified Oct. 21 by the Vaticans Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he had 30 days in which to recant his position or be excommunicated. Two weeks after receiving the notice, he responded, saying that he could not recant what he considered a matter of justice and conscience. At press time, he said he was still awaiting final word from the Vatican.
Bourgeois, a priest for 36 years, is known primarily as the founder of SOA Watch, a group that began staging annual protests at the U.S. Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1990. The year before in El Salvador, six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter had been assassinated by troops that had been trained at the school. Scores of other Latin American military personnel involved in egregious human rights abuses have also been trained at the school, which was originally located in Panama.
After London, York is England’s most visited city, and with reason. It is beautiful, historic and bustling, a port city of some 180,000 people built at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss. Tourists pour in to admire York’s Gothic Minster, the largest in northern Europe, and its massive walls, first constructed by the Romans, offer a three-mile treetop view of ancient ruins and a thriving metropolis. Entering the city through one of its many gates or “bars,” one finds the Shambles, a medieval commercial lane, next to Marks & Spencer, the popular British retailer, and the remains of the 16th-century Benedictine abbey of St. Mary’s a few paces from the city’s modern archaeological museum. Cheek by jowl, old and new coexist, offering those with eyes to see the opportunity to enter the past and encounter the treasures buried there.