Bishops and American nuns hold ‘cordial and open’ meeting

November 13, 2012

WASHINGTON

Three Catholic bishops met with leaders of the American nuns’ group they are tasked with overhauling in an “open and cordial” meeting Nov. 11, according to a joint statement.

Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle led the bishops’ discussion with four officials from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, including its new president, Sister Florence Deacon.

Citing doctrinal deficiencies, the Vatican asked Sartain in April to rein in the LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of 56,000 American nuns. The nuns have disputed the Vatican’s assessment, and have called for additional dialogue with the hierarchy to resolve their differences.

Sunday’s meeting “was open and cordial and those present agreed to meet again to continue the conversation,” Sartain and Deacon said in a joint 88-word statement. A spokeswoman for the LCWR declined to say what topics were discussed or when future meetings might be held.

In addition to Sartain, Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., also attended the meeting. Former LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell, Sister Carol Zinn, and LCWR executive director Sister Janet Mock represented the American nuns’ group.

A Vatican report in April cited a “prevalence of widespread feminist themes” in LCWR programs and chided the nuns for not advocating strongly enough against abortion and same-sex marriage. Sartain has been appointed to review and revise LCWR programs and statutes.

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