Half the adults in an Oakland parish signed a petition after Masses Oct. 25 in support of U.S. women religious who are facing two Vatican investigations.
"They were very supportive. The response was very positive," said Fr. Brian T. Joyce, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill, Calif. "We announced the petition drive, had tables outside after the masses, and invited people to sign."
Joyce said the petition, which will be sent to Vatican officials, drew some 1,500 signatures, or roughly half the 3,000 adults in the parish.
After learning about the investigations, which Joyce described in a parish bulletin, Christ the King parishioners reacted in two ways, he said. They were supportive, and they were puzzled as to why the Vatican would want to investigate the U.S. women religious.
Joyce attempted to answer the latter question with essays he wrote in the parish bulletins dated Oct. 18 and 25.
After presenting an account of the history of the two investigations, Joyce told his parishioners he would like to see "more transparency and less secrecy" by the Vatican. "After all, I can't put a shred of evaluation in an employee's file without the employee having full access to it," he wrote.
He went on to write that he hoped the investigations would "become the cause for the Vatican and ourselves to celebrate and give public thanks for the holy and heroic ministry of our sisters."
The petition reads:
Said Joyce: "I am very pleased with the way our parishioners reacted, but I am also concerned about the future of the sisters. I hope it turns out to be a positive result, and that it's the innocent evaluation that it's claimed to be."
Tom Fox is NCR editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org