The Leadership Conference of Women Religious will gather for its 2012 conference from Aug. 7-11 in St. Louis, MO. As we keep this momentous gathering of women in our prayers, I offer former LCWR president Theresa Kane’s address to Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on October 7, 1979.
The most relevant part of her speech was:
“As I share this privileged moment with you, Your Holiness, I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind.
As women we have heard the powerful messages of our Church addressing the dignity and reverence for all persons. As women we have pondered upon these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church.
I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the Church as fully participating members.”
It is worth noting that Sr. Kane’s speech received thunderous applause. And “when she finished speaking,” newspapers report, “the gray-haired nun moved to the altar of the magnificent National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and knelt before the pope. He gently touched her head.” Such is the agonizing and beautiful paradox and mystery of Catholicism.