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Sisters' Stories

Time of ambiguity shadows Maryknollers' assembly

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FIRST PERSON

OSSINING, N.Y. -- I was surprised to see Fr. Roy Bourgeois’ name on the list of Maryknollers attending our annual U.S. regional assembly from May 23 to 27.

More than a month had passed since the superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Fr. Ed Dougherty, issued the first canonical warning to Roy to recant his position on the ordination of women or face dismissal from our society and laicization by Rome. No one expected Roy, who had been ordered to be silent on this issue by former superiors, to comply now, despite having been excommunicated in 2009 for participating in an attempted ordination of a woman the year before.

Pope removes bishop who expressed openness to ordaining women

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has removed Australian Bishop William M. Morris of Toowoomba from office five years after he wrote a pastoral letter indicating he would be open to ordaining women and married men if church rules changed to allow such a possibility.

In an open letter to Catholics in his diocese released May 1, Bishop Morris said the 2006 letter "has been misread and, I believe, deliberately misinterpreted" by a small group within the diocese.

Maryknoll gives Bourgeois notice of removal from order

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Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the longtime peace activist and founder of SOA Watch, has received a letter from his order giving him 15 days to “publicly recant” his support of women’s ordination or face dismissal from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

The letter, which is dated March 18, is signed by Maryknoll Fr. Edward Dougherty, the order’s superior general, and Fr. Edward McGovern, its secretary general, and warns Bourgeois that his dismissal will also be forwarded to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith “with a request for laicization.”

NCR received the letter in a fax from Bourgeois this morning.

Bourgeois, who attended and preached a homily at the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August, 2008, was notified by the same congregation shortly after that event that he had incurred a latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication for his participation.

Women seek to bridge farming's gender gap

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Lima, Peru -- Latin American women comprise one-fifth of the region´s farmers, but they face inequalities such as obstacles to land ownership, loans and farming supplies, putting a crimp in food production, according to a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO.

According to its State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11 report “Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development,” published on March 7, women farmers work more temporary or seasonal jobs and with lower income compared with their male counterparts.

Attack highlights all too common African violence

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ONGATA RONGAI, KENYA -- In the cool early morning hours of Jan. 14, I was awakened by piercing screams. Again and again, the women screamed.

I did not know it then, but gunmen had broken into the complex of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary, an African order of Catholic sisters where I was spending the night.

When the men came to her door and demanded money, Sr. Levina Kalikwela grabbed a small, gold-veneered framed picture of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus.

“They entered and I held it,” the sister told me the next day, standing in her destroyed bedroom. “I said, ‘God, we’re finished,’ And I just held it lake this.” She grasped the picture in both hands and held it over her head.

The men hit the picture with their knife, breaking it, Kalikwela told me.

“They were asking me,” said Kalikwela, her voice cracking. “And I was telling them I have no money. I have no money.”

Sisters hopeful on Tobinís role in Vatican probe

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The recent appointment of an American archbishop to the Vatican office overseeing a wide-ranging investigation of U.S. nuns has the sisters and their supporters breathing a little easier.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin has already acknowledged the “anger and hurt” among U.S. nuns caused by the probe in his new role as the secretary, or No. 2 official, of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Tobin, who grew up in Detroit, has said he will work to heal any rifts between American sisters and the Catholic hierarchy in Rome. He also hopes to lift a shroud of secrecy surrounding the probe.

“We’re very excited by his appointment,” said Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, director of the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio. “He’s coming from an American culture that believes you have a right to defend yourself, a right to have your voice heard.”

The investigation, officially known as an “apostolic visitation,” is meant to “look into the quality of life” in sisters’ religious communities, according to the Vatican.

Vatican official speaks of a 'strategy of reconciliation' with women religious

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ROME -- Rome must acknowledge the “depth of anger and hurt” provoked by a visitation of American nuns, the Vatican’s number two official for religious life has said, saying it illustrates the need for a “strategy of reconciliation” with women religious.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said that he does not expect any “punitive” fallout from the visitation, and that before any decisions are made, women’s communities should have a chance to know the results and to respond.

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