May 28, 2012

Sisters in the U.S. are enduring a difficult and shameful cross. The Vatican Congregation for Doctrine of Faith has ordered the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to reform its statutes and programs to adhere more closely to the discipline of the Church.

They suggest that these holy women have stances on "certain feminist themes" and have appointed a bishop to lead them through this exercise. It is difficult to identify what was meant by feminist themes - after all they are all feminine and have the unique God-given qualities of being a woman.

These women have dedicated their lives to work for God and for those who most need them, especially the poor and disadvantaged.

The average age of sisters in the U.S. is 78 and, through a lifetime of sacrifice, they have been gifts to our Church. Most are highly educated, competent and spiritual, and quite able to undertake any reform that might be required (perhaps none is needed).

They should not be subject to men who have no experience in the roles these women have taken on.

After Vatican II they were asked to make their charisms conform to their founders. This they did and prayerfully enacted what contribution they could make to the Church and to humankind. Pope Benedict, in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, identified that such social service is an extension of the ministry of Jesus.

Those aware of their achievements are rallying to support them. There are vigils every Tuesday in May in U.S. cities to pray for and support these courageous women. Praise of the sisters is pouring in.

Pray for these religious women that the Holy Spirit who has guided them will enable them to sustain this unwarranted attack and that an attitude of peace between them and their detractors develop.

Kay Feehan

Letter to the Editor - 06/11/12