Vatican Summons More Nuns to Rome to Explain Their Dissent

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 27, 2016   

Vatican concerned with "public dissent of Church teaching" by certain U.S. sisters

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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican is summoning the heads of two more female religious orders so they can explain their "public dissent" from Church teaching.

The most recent communities to be summoned are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). The Vatican's concern in both communities involves their dissent from Church teaching.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life wrote to CSJ superiors earlier this year. Their concerns for the CSJ community included:

  • The order's promotion of an "emerging form of religious life"

  • Membership in the community by those who "dissent from the Church's moral teaching or approved liturgical practices"

CSJ superior Sr. Mary McKay received the letter on behalf of the community and was invited to Rome for "prayerful conversation" with the Congregation regarding these issues. She wrote to members of the community saying the letter was presented as a follow-up to the on-site visit Rome had with the order in St. Paul, Minnesota in late 2010. A letter to CSJ sisters by the women superiors expressed the leadership's goal of working "toward resolution of the doctrinal investigation."

The BVM community has also been contacted by Rome. Sister Teri Hadro, president of the order, said her community received a letter from the Vatican in early April asking for a written response to ongoing concerns over the order's "public dissent of Church teaching."

She described the letter as "friendly," adding, "It's just that I think they tend to interpret things as dissent that really aren't dissent." Noting the emphasis on abortion by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Hadro related that women religious in the United States focus more on issues like food, water and shelter for the marginalized.

"Because we focus on those issues and not on right to life from conception forward," Hadro commented, "our silence is being interpreted as dissent."

As ChurchMilitant.com reported earlier, the Vatican is summoning superiors to Rome from approximately 15 female religious communities in the United States as a follow-up to its six-year investigation launched in 2008. Although the Vatican's initial investigation was closed in December 2014 involving 341 female orders comprised of 50,000 women religious, the Holy See has singled out these remaining communities for further inquiry.

Noted in the report was one such community slated for ongoing investigation, namely, the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky. President of the community Sr. Pearl McGivney wrote June 1 to members that she has been called to Rome October 18 to discuss five "areas of concern."

The Vatican had written McGivney in April asking her to explain "some points" involving certain "ambiguities" in the community's adherence to Catholic doctrine and its manner of living religious life.

There are roughly 500,000 Catholic women religious worldwide, 10 percent of whom reside in the United States.

 

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