Tag Archives: LCWR

REFLECTION: Vatican diplomatic successes with nuns, the U.S. and Cuba


by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Diplomatic skills were on display at the Vatican this week when it issued its report on the U.S. sisters, hosted a visit from John Kerry, and midwifed an agreement between the United States and Cuba.

First, the nuns.


Maryknoll Sisters at the SOA Vigil and Action.

A sigh of relief echoed through convents all over the United States as the Vatican report on the life and ministry of religious women was released this week. The six-year visitation of religious communities, which had all the trappings of an inquisition when it began, turned into an affirming dialogue by the time it concluded.

The key players in this transformation were Pope Francis, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Mother Mary Clare Millea and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland. Without their diplomatic skills, this could have been a disaster.

The apostolic visitation began in 2008 under Cardinal Franc Rodé, then prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (aka Congregation for Religious), who was concerned about “feminist spirit” among American sisters as well as “irregularities or omissions in American religious life.” He clearly expected to find lots of problems and failings among the sisters, which he had heard about especially from “an important representative of the U.S. church,” whom he did not name…

Read the entire article by clicking here.

WOMEN RELIGIOUS: Cry out, sisters, cry out

Joan Chittister, osbSr. Mary Lou Kownacki, osbby Joan Chittister, osb and
Mary Lou Kownacki, osb
Pax Christi USA Teachers of Peace

Not too long ago, the world barely noticed nuns, and then only in some anonymous or stereotypical way. Now there is hardly an instance when the world does not notice them. The irony is palpable. When we looked like “nuns,” we weren’t seen. Now that we look simply like ourselves, everybody sees everything we do. Clearly, witness is at least as powerful as uniforms. And nuns have given clear witness to contemplation, equality, and justice these last years.

The problem with that kind of thinking, however, is that people who consider themselves full adults begin to act as if they are.

However, there are consequences to witness like that.


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.

Men and women everywhere are watching the scenario work out, searching for models to resolve it, seeking spiritual guidance to deal with their own frustrations. Benedictine sister and poet Sr. Mary Lou Kownacki writes of the situation in her own blog, Old Monk’s Journal

Click here to read the entire article.

IRAQ: LCWR calls upon people to join Iraqi Sisters in prayer today

from LCWR

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

Silver Spring, MD–Facing imminent danger, the leader of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna in Mosul, Iraq has called her sisters throughout Iraq to a time of intense prayer and retreat to beg God for the protection of the Iraqi people, especially the minority Christian community.

The Iraqi Christian community has steadily declined from approximately 1.3 million in 2003 to less than 300,000 today.  Recent statements from Christian leaders have indicated that it is unlikely there are any Christians remaining in Mosul today.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States calls upon people of all denominations in the world community to join the Iraqi Sisters in a moment of prayer on Thursday, June 19 at 6 PM (in your time zone) to pray for an end to the violence and the protection of minority Christians in Iraq…

Click here to read more.

ON THE LINE: July edition features PCM state conference, anti-drone sign-on ad, young adult voices & more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

PAX CHRISTI MICHIGAN CELEBRATES THE PROPHETIC LEADERSHIP OF WOMEN: (by Joan Tirak, PCM Coordinator) “What a great way to celebrate our hard-working, self-giving, dedicated women!  Some 225 participants enthusiastically gathered on April 20, 2013 for Pax Christi Michigan’s 32nd Annual State Conference in Farmington Hills. They came for many reasons, but the primary draw was the theme ‘Prophetic Leadership of Women: Justice from the Margins’ along with the main speakers, Barbara Reid, OP and Elizabeth Walters, IHM. They also came to support the Leadership Conference of Women Religious whom we honored with our 22nd Annual Purple Ribbon for Peace – a tradition that PCM started in 1991 in response to Pax Christi USA’s National ­­­­­­‘We Shall Not Be Silent’ Campaign… Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/07/10/regional-news-pax-christi-michigan-celebrates-the-prophetic-leadership-of-women/

pcm conference

Pax Christi Michigan celebrated the “prophetic leadership of women” at their 32nd annual state conference this year.

PAX CHRISTI METRO DC-BALTIMORE LEADS ANTI-DRONE SIGN-ON AD EFFORT: Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore has been leading the effort to have the sign-on letter that the Pax Christi Anti-Drone Grassroots Task Force put together published in August in the National Catholic Reporter.  Bishop Gumbleton, Kathy Kelly and Marie Dennis are the first few “well-known” Catholics who will be signing.  If you have not signed on already, please consider joining them by signing yourself. Signatures will be taken until July 17th. For more information, visit https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/07/03/drones-sign-the-ad-to-be-published-by-pax-christi-metro-dc-baltimore/.

BLUE WATER (MI) PAX CHRISTI LEADER’S COLUMN ON THE 4TH OF JULY IN US CATHOLIC: “In 2007, facing the probability that the Iraq War was unjust, a group of Catholics in my community in Port Huron, Michigan, openly informed IRS that we would redirect hundreds of dollars from our federal taxes, donating this ‘Iraq Peace Bond’ instead to our local library. Our donation was merely a drop in the bucket of the trillions wasted in this war, but a small step in a new direction. Most of the money was eventually recovered by IRS, but the donation still helps the community and serve as an inspiration to find further methods to invest in the works of peace, not war. The spirit of the Fourth of July is one that celebrates our freedom, but it is one that often overlooks the violent revolution it took for us to achieve that independence…” To read the rest of this column by Michael McCarthy of Blue Water PC, go to http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/201307/taking-steps-toward-peace-spirit-fourth-july-27510

MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE: Pax Christi USA received quite a bit of media coverage at the 40th anniversary national conference in Atlanta in mid-June. To read the story posted in the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, go to http://georgiabulletin.org/news/pax-christi-veterans-extend-baton-to-young/. To read Pat O’Neill’s story for the National Catholic Reporter, go to http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/pax-christi-usa-conference-illustrates-need-move-forward-while-keeping-mission. Additionally, in the fall, the Atlanta Interfaith Network plans to broadcast the talks of both Rev. Bryan Massingale and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. We’ll provide links once they’re available. For more on the conference, visit https://paxchristiusa.org/programs/national-conference-2013/.

REPORT FROM THE PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL MEETING: (by Judy Coode) From June 10-12, several Pax Christi sections gathered in Berlin, Germany for this year’s Pax Christi International (PXI) Annual General Meeting (AGM). Sections represented included Pax Christi UK, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, Flanders, Netherlands (Pax Christi IKV), Peru and USA. Bishop Marc Stenger, bishop president of Pax Christi France, also attended. The meetings were presided over by co-presidents Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa and Marie Dennis of Washington, D.C., and PXI Secretary General Jose Henriquez… Read the full report at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/06/23/pax-christi-international-report-from-the-pxi-annual-general-meeting/.

Adrienne Alexander and Patrick Cashio address participants at the National Conference on June 15.

Pax Christi Young Adults Adrienne Alexander and Patrick Cashio address participants at the National Conference on June 15.

PAX CHRISTI YOUNG ADULT MEMBER WRITES PCUSA MEMBERSHIP ON OUTREACH TO YOUNG ADULTS: (The following is a letter from Patrick Cashio who addressed participants at the National Conference on June 15 alongside former PCUSA National Council member Adrienne Alexander. Patrick is a former Pax Christi USA intern and the current director of young adult ministry at the Romero Center in Camden, New Jersey.) “I want to thank you so much for your welcoming spirit at this past year’s Pax Christi USA National Conference.  I was truly honored to be among you.  Your work over the years has led to countless social changes.  You have been on the frontlines of the “good fight” of peace and justice.  For all the experience and powerful witness that your lives bear, I can hardly do justice. I am writing this letter to give you some other resources for finding and inviting young adults into the incredible work of Pax Christi.  While Adrienne and I gave you some insight into the lives of young adults, we also wanted to follow up with ways that you can find and invite other young adults…” Read the entire letter at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/06/24/national-conference-a-letter-to-pax-christi-usa-members-from-a-pcusa-young-adult/

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:    

August 4 – Pax Christi New Mexico’s Annual Sack Cloth & Ashes Hiroshima Commemoration Action, at Los Alamos. Contact Bud Ryan at 505-264-2838 or Ellie Voutselas at 505-474-8557 for more information.

August 5-6, 9 – Faith and Resistance Retreat in Washington, D.C. Contact Art Laffin for more info at  artlaffin@hotmail.com

August 17 – Pax Christi Metro New York’s Annual Summer Picnic in Central Park, http://www.nypaxchristi.org/events.html


Like Pax Christi Illinois’ new Facebook pagePax Christi Michigan is looking to hire a part-time coordinatorSr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, was recently featured in the newsletter of the National Black Catholic Congress … Pax Christi Virginia has officially changed their name to the Pax Christi Bishop Sullivan Virginia Region … Pax Christi Metro New York coordinator Rosemarie Pace wrote this moving tribute to Bishop Joseph Sullivan … Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis was featured in this CNS story on President Obama’s nuclear plans … Pax Christi Dallas has a new websitePax Christi Southwest FL member Dave Montrose blogs here on Pax Christi and youth … Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace for 2013 is Mary Meg McCarthy … Pax Christi International’s June 2013 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2013 edition of The Peace Current

REGIONAL NEWS: LCWR to receive the Purple Ribbon of Peace from PC-Michigan

Pax Christi Michigan has published a new issue of it’s PeaceMaking News Briefs newsletter. In this issue, state coordinator Joan Tirak wrote the following article about LCWR as recipients of the 2013 Purple Ribbon for Peace. 

by Joan Tirak, Pax Christi Michigan State Coordinator

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on the women of our Church whose lives bear witness to the mandate outlined in Isaiah and read by Jesus in the Temple as He announced His liberating ministry.” So proclaimed PCM State Council member Kim Redigan in the 2012 Fall/Winter Peace Connections announcing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) as our 2013 Purple Ribbon for Peace recipient.

Upon hearing this, LCWR Executive Director Janet Mock, CSJ replied: “We are profoundly grateful for this honor. Our members highly value and respect all the work Pax Christi does. It is a high praise to be so honored – we are humbled to be named to receive this award.” She regrets, however, that she cannot be with us to receive the award. She and other LCWR leaders will be in Rome to continue their dialog with the Vatican.

Pax Christi International in a letter of support for LCWR wrote: “Women religious in the United States have been deeply committed to promoting the peace of Christ. They are at the heart of our movement, proclaiming with clarity and love the possibility of a world without war, a future beyond dehumanizing violence.” Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi Michigan signed the letter as well. Read the full text at http://paxchristimi.org/Summer2012_PCM_news.pdf

Accepting the award on behalf of the LCWR will be former LCWR Presidents Margaret Brennan, IHM (1972) and Carol Quigley, IHM (1987). Both are members of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary community, Monroe. Brennan is a theologian, author and scripture scholar, having written on topics of spirituality, sustainability and theology. She has taught at seminaries and universities across the United States and Canada. And Quigley in describing herself wrote: “My experience in the third world (Brazil), leadership roles in religious life, both in the congregation and nationally in LCWR – as well as my ministry as novice director, have enriched and shaped me.”

In her article Redigan paid tribute to the LCWR saying: “Whether it’s traveling the country by bus to shine the Gospel light on our federal budget or running a literacy center in a Detroit neighborhood or standing with those living in war zones or ministering to those on death row and their victims, the women in our Church know what it means to keep vigil at the foot of the cross while others flee in terror. The women in this Church have been graced with the courage and wisdom to wait outside the tomb knowing that resurrection is inevitable.”

Pax Christi Michigan is privileged to celebrate the witness of women through our 2013 conference presentations by Barbara Reid, OP and Elizabeth Walters, IHM, the numerous women-led workshops, and in giving the Purple Ribbon for Peace Award to the Leadership Conference of Women Religions.

REFLECTION: Civil discourse is a necessary step toward the common good

Marie DennisBy Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International Co-President

(This is the sixth and final post in a series about civil discourse, respectful dialogue across difference, and nonviolence. Read Marie’s first post here, second post here, third post here, fourth post here and fifth post here. And join in the conversation by posting comments on the website below this post and past ones, as well as participating in the dialogue on our Facebook page and Twitter. To download a PDF version of all 6 reflections in this series, plus an opening prayer, suitable for individual or small group use, click here.)

A helpful parish program on civil discourse this week provided a good opportunity to think through many different aspects of this topic. We began the conversation by viewing together a 10 minute segment of Jon Stewart’s recent interview of Senator Marco Rubio, with its good examples of civil (and occasionally not-so-civil) discourse. We also looked at the recent interaction between the Vatican and LCWR to see what we could learn there. A few observations:

  • Respect for the other person and a real desire to understand their point of view makes civil dialogue even across substantial differences of opinion possible; conversely, without respect, civil discourse is virtually impossible.
  • No one has the corner on truth; civil discourse is more possible when we are open to gaining new insights, information or understanding from the other.
  • Attentive listening is crucial; asking questions to make sure you understand what the other person is saying, and perhaps why they hold that opinion, can help.
  • So do being well-informed and truthful; owning personal opinion as opinion; speaking respectfully; shared humor; neutral body language; and avoiding rhetoric.
  • The “atmosphere” also can facilitate or preclude civil discourse;  print, broadcast and electronic media play an important role in setting the tone of our political discussions, as do our personal communications and conversations.
  • When any common ground exists, it helps to name it, but it can also be a gift to agree to disagree and still continue the dialogue, making the effort to understand another person’s perspective.

If we are truly informed by faith, it seems to me that we will not be neutral. Rather, we are called by the Gospel to be on the side of those who are impoverished and excluded; to speak out for an end to war and violence; to respect the integrity of creation; to work for the common good. To do so in the public arena – and often in private conversations as well – we will have to choose sides, to have an opinion. I think one of the greatest challenges of these complex times is to claim with vigor that Gospel bias and to be prophetic in response to the greed and violence of our culture, without losing the capacity for respectful listening or the humility that opens us to new ways of thinking, new information, new ideas, new answers.

In these long months of heated debate, we U.S. Americans have failed to identify the common values or goals that might repair the jagged tear in our national fabric. We have been richly blessed with a great diversity of culture, experience, religious and ethical belief, opinion. As the 2012 presidential election draws near, let us pray for national and local leadership that will help us reclaim a commitment to the common good, to just and sustainable peace, to social and ecological justice, and insist on the kind of civil discourse necessary to move our country in that direction.

Marie Dennis is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and the Co-President of Pax Christi International. 

WOMEN RELIGIOUS: LCWR will continue dialogue, but not compromise mission

by Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

ST. LOUIS — The organization which represents the majority of U.S. Catholic sisters said Friday afternoon it would continue discussions with church officials regarding a Vatican-ordered takeover, but “will reconsider” if it “is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”

The statement by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents some 80 percent of U.S. sisters, came at the end of the group’s annual assembly, held this week in St. Louis.

The sisters were responding to an April 18 mandate by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that ordered the group to revise and place itself under the authority of three U.S. bishops.

Reading aloud from a prepared statement, which came after approval from the 900 sisters gathered at the assembly, LCWR’s president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said LCWR membership wanted to use the occasion of the Vatican order “to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values and operating principles.”

As part of the Vatican’s mandate, LCWR has been ordered to place itself under the authority of an “archbishop delegate,” Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain.

LCWR national board is expected to meet with Sartain in St. Louis Sunday for about two hours. The focus of that meeting “will be on beginning to process with him and see how that unfolds,” Farrell said at a press conference.

The LCWR expect “open and honest dialogue” with Sartain that “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church,” the statement said.

“Religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,” it said…

To read the entire article, click here.

To read the LCWR statement following their meeting earlier this month, click here.