Nun Justice, a coalition of 15 progressive Catholic organizations in the United States, is asking Catholics to pray for women religious at their upcoming national assembly.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing 80 percent of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, will convene for its annual assembly from August 12-16 in Nashville. Nun Justice is asking Catholics to pray for guidance for those at the assembly and for Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, who will receive the group’s Outstanding Leadership Award.
The group’s website, www.nunjustice.org, has prayers and prayer services that can be downloaded. The prayer asks that the sisters “see prophetically and hear without distortion, speak truthfully and with respect, touch tenderly and stand tall in witnessing [God’s] all-inclusive love.”
Nun Justice has criticized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s assessments of LCWR and started an open letter to Pope Francis asking him to intervene on behalf of the sisters, saying the sanctions against the group “communicates that faithful Catholic female leaders are disrespected and discounted in the Roman Catholic Church.”
The LCWR leadership has said the problems are caused by perceptions that have become institutionalized within the Vatican, leading to a breakdown of communication and mistrust, but that a movement toward meaningful conversation has begun.
Deborah Rose-Milavec, executive director of FutureChurch, a Nun Justice coalition partner based in Cleveland, said the prayers are an important way to show support.
“Many Catholics see women religious as being a leadership body with a whole lot of moral authority and clout,” Rose-Milavec said. “LCWR and women religious in general have been real leaders when it comes to the issues of the day.”
Rose-Milavec women religious often speak for Catholics in a way the bishops do not.
“We want to stand firmly in solidarity with them and show our support,” she said.
[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for GSR.]