Dear Pope Francis —
I know you’re busy, but I’m sure you must have heard that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is holding their annual meeting next week. They have a great plenary speaker, Sister Elizabeth Johnson. She is a noted theologian who has written several important books on the nature of our relationship to the Divine. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks she’s amazing. Tellingly, it’s mostly men who think this, and it’s mostly men who have criticized the LCWR for having her as a speaker. Interesting, that.
This is also something of a watershed meeting for the LCWR. After the meeting, the organization will fall squarely under the purview of U.S. bishops tapped by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to oversee the group. Again, men have been tapped by to tell a group of intelligent, dedicated, devout women how they should exist in the Church. Interesting, that.
I think Sister Joan Chittister sums this up pretty well in a piece published today by the National Catholic Reporter:
Next week, for instance, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will face decisions that will move the question of the agency of women in a man’s church either forward or back. Strange as it may seem in the 21st century, the issue is whether or not women are capable of hearing diverse speakers and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious may discuss various points of view on major issues and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious can manage their own organizations and still be faithful Catholics. The Vatican’s answer to those questions is no. For the last 45 years, however, LCWR’s answer to those same questions has been a clear and persistent yes.
That same article includes a link to a petition asking you, Pope Francis, to personally intervene in the situation. I do hope you’ll consider it. You’ve been doing a lot of intervening lately. I think the LCWR deserves some attention and support.