The apostolic visitation report was laudatory, but the sisters remain caught in ambiguity / National Catholic Reporter

Well, I’ll admit it, the Vatican’s apostolic visitation report has been on my mind. For over two years, my community’s leadership diverted precious time, energy and resources away from sorely needed ministry to the marginalized to address a searching Vatican inquiry that we had neither chosen nor had a part in shaping.

“Over these past stressful years, my feelings veered widely from anxiety, to sorrow, to anger, to pain. I was regularly sustained, however, by various sister leaders around the U.S. who, although also deeply affected, seemed imbued with an impressive calm.

“So when I heard the congregation for religious would live stream a press conference to report on their findings, I knew I wanted to hear what U.S. sister leaders thought about it all first, if I could.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Vatican abuse commission gains second abuse survivor, several women / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has added members to the new Vatican commission advising him on safeguarding children from sexual abuse, appointing an additional eight people to the commission from diverse global backgrounds and professional experience.

“Among the new appointments, which the Vatican announced Wednesday (Dec. 17): an English survivor of clergy sexual abuse, a woman religious who serves as the secretary general of an pan-African episcopal conference, and several psychologists and psychotherapists from different parts of the world.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Also of interest, “Abuse victim calls pope’s new commission line-up ‘courageous,'” by Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

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Pope Francis and the Catholic crisis / Huffington Post

There is a growing crisis haunting the Catholic Church. And it is a crisis larger than the events that have so greatly afflicted the American Catholic Church. The pedophilia scandals are a horrifying element of this crisis. So, too, are the bishops who covered up and excused these outrages. And so, also, the more general loss of confidence Catholics have in a hierarchy that seems oddly concerned with rank and privilege and with fighting yesterday’s culture wars. Yes, these are all elements of the crisis, but the crisis is larger than this.”

By Charles J. Reid, Jr., Huffington Post — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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The ending should have been the beginning / Global Sisters Report – National Catholic Reporter

I learned somewhere that ‘All spirit starts at the top.’ The attribution may be apocryphal, perhaps, but in this case true, nevertheless.

“Tuesday, in fact, I saw the truth of that with my own eyes.

“Tuesday’s release of the final report on the apostolic visitation of American nuns launched in 2008 by Cardinal Franc Rodé, then prefect of the congregation for religious life, takes on a completely different tone than at its inception …

“Like the drop of a medieval guillotine ordered from above and subject to no review, the harsh imposition of the process was met by appropriate resistance from one end of the country to the other …

“Nevertheless, today, six years later, under Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, this final report issued in response to that national evaluation has all but leached out the negative and punitive spirit that unloosed it. The spirit at the top has changed. The tone has changed. The degree of collaboration has changed …

“In fact, Tuesday’s report, with its recognition of the momentous effect of the American sisterhood on the development of the church in the United States, is precisely the document that should have opened the discussion rather than ended it.”

By Joan Chittister, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read this entire article.

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Vatican report conciliatory toward nuns, but VOTF joins call for removal of LCWR mandate

Nuns in the United States can get on with their missions to those on the margins of society in keeping with the best traditions of their religious orders without undue Vatican interference—sort of. The Vatican issued today a report on its six-year apostolic visitation to religious women in the United States.

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® joins in solidarity with its U.S. sisters first in being encouraged by the report’s conciliatory tone and second in decrying this investigation in the first place and the mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. VOTF would like that mandate removed as soon as possible.

The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life began the apostolic visitation that resulted in this report in 2008. The visitation included all U.S. nuns. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began its investigation of LCWR in 2009, and the group presently is under a Vatican mandate calling for their reform and placing LCWR under the guidance of several U.S. bishops.

LCWR leader Sister Susan Holland, however, said the apostolic visitation report was “affirmative and realistic.” And Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, who leads the smaller Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, said the visitation was “a wonderful one,” during which they spoke honestly and “with the knowledge that what they had to say would eventually reach the Holy Father.”

VOTF hopes that, in the coming weeks, the Vatican will encourage the optimistic view represented by these two women religious leaders so that these issues are resolved quickly.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. VOTF is a sponsor of the Nun Justice Project.

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Vatican probe ends with an olive branch for American nuns / Cruxnow.com

An unprecedented and highly controversial Vatican investigation of every community of Catholic sisters in the United States that began with criticism of nuns as having a ‘secular mentality’ ended Tuesday (Dec. 16) with a report full of praise, and without any disciplinary measures or new controls.

“The result likely will be seen as a major olive branch from the Vatican for American nuns, as well as another sign of a more conciliatory approach under Pope Francis.

“‘Since the early days of the Catholic Church [in the United States], women religious have courageously been in the forefront … selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical and social needs of countless individuals,’ the report says.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Click here to read the full Vatican report on the Apostolic visitation to American nuns.

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Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to abuse / CathNews.com

The Catholic Church in Australia on Friday said that obligatory celibacy may have contributed to priests abusing children, and recommended that clergy should be given ‘psychosexual’ training.

“In a landmark report, an Australian Catholic Church body dealing with the legacy of child sex abuse added that some church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.

“‘Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances,’ the Truth, Justice and Healing Council said.”

By CathNews.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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