Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle issued a statement on Saturday, August 11, coinciding with the close of historic gathering of Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Archbishop Sartain has been assigned by the Vatican to “reform” the organization that represents 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the U.S.
I am very pleased to see Archbishop Sartain respond in like manner and tone to that which was offered by the LCWR at the close of their meeting–one of solidarity, intense respect, and a shared desire to move forward in faith.
“The Holy See and the Bishops of the United States are deeply proud of the historic and continuing contribution of women religious to our country through social, pastoral and spiritual ministries; Catholic health care; Catholic education; and many other areas where they reach out to those on the margins of society.
As an association of women religious, the LCWR brings unique gifts to its members and to the Church at large. This uniqueness includes sensitivity to suffering, whether in Latin America or the inner-city; whether in the life of an unborn child or the victim of human trafficking.
Religious women have made a lasting contribution to the wellbeing of our country and continue to do so today. For that they deserve our respect, our support, our thanks and our prayers.
Along with the members of the LCWR, I remain committed to working to address the issues raised by the Doctrinal Assessment in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue. We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church teaching or the important role of the LCWR. I look forward to our continued discussions as we collaborate in promoting consecrated life in the United States.”
I got a note today from Pat Mahon over at Pax Christi South saying he’d been banned from speaking in the Diocese of Venice, Florida. He was scheduled to lead a retreat on Thomas Merton but the retreat was canceled by the chancellor. Pat speculates that this was because of his support for Catholic women’s ordination to the priesthood. Here’s an excerpt from Pat’s reflections:
I immediately began finalizing arrangements and the materials for a retreat on Merton I was giving to a parish peace and justice group on Florida’s west coast this Friday and Saturday. Then, out of the blue, I was notified Wednesday evening that the retreat was canceled because I was no longer approved to speak in the Diocese of Venice. I had been approved last March to speak on Merton in San Marco and understood that once approved, further approval was not necessary. The retreat coordinator in October was told that I was approved when he inquired to make sure. What?
I arose early after a restless night and called the contact person. The chancellor had had the person in charge of the deacons call the deacon who was coordinating the retreat to deliver the message. Speaking of dialogue, openness and transparency! The only reason I have been able to find so far is that I support the ordination of women as priests. I now join a select group of people who I been told are banned in Venice–Joan Chittister, Charlie Curran, Anthony Padovano. I also suspect that Roy Bourgeoise and John Dear are on the list.
Read Pat’s whole post here and send him a suportive note.
This tactic of “banning” speakers that someone in Catholic hierarchy doesn’t approve of is becoming more popular. In October, the diocese of Richmond refused to allow Pax Christi to meet in Holy Family Church — even though a bishop was one of the keynote speakers! Pax Christi had to hold its meeting at the local Methodist college.
It’s important to note that technically the diocese can only “ban” speakers who are holding events on diocesan-owned property. So if you hold your events elsewhere, the hierarchy can “ban” all they want but to no effect.
I find it ironic that when judges were deciding on financial settlements for priest sex abuse cases in the dioceses of Portland and Seattle, the dioceses made it clear to the judges that the churches were the property of the parishioners. This was a strategy to reduce the diocesan “assets” and therefore limit the financial exposure of the diocese. The courts saw through this and determined that the churches were part of church property. But if the diocese can make that determination once, maybe parishioners should join together into an ownership model for their parishes.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with diocesan approval for speakers and events.
Seattle artist Charlie Krafft’s art is not for everyone. I first noticed him when he did an exhibit in Slovenia of “putting weapons beyond use” by turning hand grenades and machine guns into fine Delft china. (See it at his Villa Delirium museum.)
I check in on Charlie every once in awhile just to see what wacky notion he’s playing with now. I particularly like his Jesus fish lures. Ah, the creative mind.