We, the undersigned priests, are disturbed at the investigation ordered by the Vatican of Women Religious Congregations in the United States. Although the investigation targets all women religious Sisters in our country, the Vatican clearly is most concerned with those that are affiliated with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
The conference represents ninety-five percent of the congregations of religious women in the United States. It is this majority of Sisters who have made the greatest efforts and strides in carrying out the reforms urged by Vatican II for women religious. Here in Rhode Island they represent a majority of religious Sisters who not only are active in ministry at this time but have been for well over one hundred years. These are the Sisters who taught many of us in school and most often offered the guidance and inspiration for our vocation to the priesthood. They are women we are proud of and admire.
Like the Sisters under investigation we ask, “Why the Sisters? Is there something we do not know, that Rome is keeping secret? Does it have anything to do with fear of a greater role for not only religious Sisters but all women in the Church?”
In the light of the damage and scandal that bishops and priests have caused in recent years to the Church one wonders why the Sisters have been targeted for interrogation? As Cardinal George of Chicago recently wrote in reference to the scandal, “it is a great tragedy of unbounded proportions and bishops must take responsibility for it”.
We urge all Catholics to show their support and gratitude to our religious Sisters while at the same time voicing their displeasure to our hierarchical leaders at this investigation.
Concerned priests for peace and justice,
FATHER George Behan
FATHER Robert Beirne
FATHER Robert Blais
FATHER John Lavin
FATHER Cornelius Lynch
FATHER Richard Maynard
FATHER Charles McDermott
FATHER Jude McGeough
FATHER Eugene McKenna
FATHER Raymond Tetrault