Vatican to Release Report on U.S. Nuns Investigation

7542756After 5 years, the Vatican has announced it will make public the investigation of U.S. Catholic sisters that has so disturbed American Catholics and others around the world.

In 2013, I wrote in Sojourners:

“Even as Pope Francis washed the feet of women on Holy Thursday—a papal first—he reaffirmed in April the highly controversial interrogation and hostile takeover, initiated under his predecessor, of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organization representing the majority of U.S. Catholic sisters. On Holy Thursday in the juvenile detention center in Rome, Pope Francis explained the important symbolism of the foot washing. ‘It means, “I am at your service,”‘ he said to the youth. What an opportunity the pope has to extend this same gesture to Catholic nuns in the U.S.”

Some say Pope Francis was not properly informed about the unfolding process with U.S. Catholic sisters. Others say his inclination was not to overturn what was started by his predecessor. But all of his public acts indicated that open, positive, respectful conversation with women religious is something he deeply desires and knows that he needs.

Perhaps, in advance of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. next autumn, this tide too is turning. Here’s an excerpt from the Detroit Free Press:

On at least one front, the Vatican’s perceived war against America’s Catholic nuns may have reached a peace settlement.

On Dec. 16 at the Vatican, top Catholic church officials and three American nuns, including one from Michigan, will hold a press conference to publicly reveal the final report of a five-year investigation of congregations of Catholic sisters in the U.S., the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman told the Free Press.

The inquiry of nuns, known as an Apostolic Visitation, sparked a vast outcry by many American Catholics, who viewed it as an attack on the workhorses of the Catholic church, the women who taught and ministered to generations of Catholics and help run parishes and social outreach programs to society’s poor and marginalized.

Rosica, president of Windsor’s Assumption University, said he could not divulge contents of the report, but said it should allay the fears of many Catholic sisters about the investigation.

“It will hopefully be a very positive message for women religious in the United States,” Rosica said Tuesday, after he spoke at Detroit’s Catholic Cristo Rey High School, where he received hundreds of letters from students inviting Pope Francis to visit Detroit in 2015. …

Read the rest of the article here.

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