On the Visitation

A coworker pointed out this editorial in U.S. Catholic on Women Religious and the Apostolic Visitation. I haven't written much about the Visitation. A) I haven't wanted to get into the fray. B) I figure the religious life I love, with women committed to the Gospel and a life of love and service for the Church and God's people, speaks for itself. This editorial seems to lend some credence to point B. Figured I'd share ...

The good name of religious women in this country is indeed what is at stake here. A blanket investigation of both the "quality of life" of religious women and of the doctrinal fidelity of their leadership is hardly a just response to the breadth of their contributions.

To be sure, religious women in this country have frequently been on the ministerial and theological edge when it comes to interreligious dialogue, ministry to gay and lesbian people, and issues surrounding the role of women in the church-the stated reasons for the investigation. But that does not mean their loyalty or orthodoxy on the whole should be impugned.

I, for one, am the Catholic-and human being-I am today largely because of religious women, and not just the Sisters of Mercy who were at my grammar school.

Among them is Joyce, a Precious Blood Sister who taught me in college to love and pray the liturgy. Most of what I know about the Bible is thanks to two Sister Barbaras, a Dominican and a Religious of the Sacred Heart. Another Dominican has over many years helped me deepen my relationship with God in spiritual direction. Then there's Sister Thérèse, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, who opened my eyes to the realities of homelessness.

These are just the ones I know personally. If I had to add the women whose example and writing have inspired and changed me I would quickly run out of room.

Religious women are not perfect, of course, but if I had to pick the group that most challenged me to think more broadly, love more completely, and serve more generously as a Christian, it would be those "bossy nuns." It is precisely because they have been such creative risk-takers-more daring on the whole than their male counterparts or our ordained leadership-that they have inspired me. Where would we Catholics be without such women?

The sisters' response to the "assessment" has been sanguine. "LCWR faces this process with confidence, believing that the conference has remained faithful to its mission of service to leaders of congregations of women religious as they seek to further the mission of Christ in today's world" was LCWR's measured reply to news of the investigation.

Fair enough, but for my part let me be clear: Sisters, you don't deserve an investigation. You deserve a medal.


Anonymous said...

As a woman who was taught about God, life and love by Sisters, I could not have said it better. God Bless all the Sisters and the wonderful work that they do. Please include yourself and the work you have done in the short time of being a woman religious. The world is a better place because of women like you. Thank You!

Garpu said...

Maybe it means y'all will get the recognition you so deserve? a girl can hope.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, not wanting to "get into the fray", interesting tactic, although one that seems a bit out of step with justice work.

I think many take that route i.e. "not wanting to get into the fray" especially related to issues such as closing the School of the Americas, protesting violence against women, calling out racism, the list goes on.

I would hope that a person such as yourself, one who is dedicated to justice would do just that: "get into the fray" especially when it involves issues of your own Institution's response to women. I believe that through your profession of vows you are not only a member of your community but also officially a part of the institutional Roman Catholic faith. I would encourage you to get into the fray of your own institutional injustice as much as the other forms of institutional injustice you so wonderfully respond to and work to abolish.