+ J.M.J.A.T. +

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It has taken me a few days to get around to writing but I really feel the need to address some interesting news unfolding about the apostolic visitation of women religious in the United States. The National Catholic Reporter released an article listing the communities that have been chosen to receive an on-site visit and a prayer for those communities and the visitors. The original article attributed both the list and the prayer to Mother Clare. Here you can read the retraction. I tried to post a comment on NCR's website, however, I was denied. While I don't have a copy of the exact wording of what I tried to post I would like to expand on some of my ideas here, since I was not given the opportunity there.

First, there are nineteen communities mentioned in the list of on-site visits. Of the nineteen; two or three wear visible religious garb, most (but not all!) are members of the LCWR, and many (again not all!) would not be considered traditional, but progressive. Any logical person who reads that these particular communities were the sole communities chosen by Mother Clare to be visited would conclude that the visitation is in fact a witch hunt, one that is out to reign in the sisters who are "unfaithful". Those of us who are past the whole conspiracy theory realize that cannot be true.

The list of communities while accurate, is incomplete. It is only a sampling of the communities that are actually being visited. Why would Mother Clare give an incomplete list? She wouldn't. The LCWR gave the list to NCR. This changes the whole story, the whole picture, of a major issue in our Church right now! The LCWR simply told NCR what members of that umbrella organization were being visited as far as they knew and offered a prayer for them. Now, the logical person reading this story realizes that there are communities out there who are being visited who are not on the list because they don't belong to the LCWR, or they are prudent enough to know to keep confidential things, confidential. It doesn't look like a witch hunt anymore, does it?

Now what it looks like is bad and biased reporting in which the process of an apostolic visitation is being twisted and harmed. I am disappointed in NCR for their bad reporting and distortion of these events. I am more disappointed with the LCWR for their lack of prudence and sensitivity in dealing with this issue of visitation. As a religious woman, I intend to use this visitation as an opportunity to show my love for the Church and my desire to be a true, faithful daughter of the Church. I also intend to speak up when an injustice occurs such as this one. I will not be represented by LCWR or NCR and I will not allow this kind of information to float around without trying to correct it.

I also suggest forgetting the prayer suggested by the LCWR. Instead, let us continue to pray the Visitation Prayer given to us by Mother Clare.

O Virgin of the Visitation,
compelled by the Holy Spirit,
and with Jesus hidden beneath your Heart,
you arose in those days and, with haste,
went to your kinswoman Elizabeth,
to serve her in her time of need.
Elizabeth acknowledged your faith,
and a new song came to flower on your lips;
thus did you magnify the Father
whose mercy is from generation to generation.
Visit us now, O Mother of Our Lord,
and obtain for us a quickening of prophetic grace,
that we may serve our sisters in faithfully loving the Church,
and love the Church in humbly serving our sisters,
and so, under your gracious protection,
again and again repeat your words:
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord;
be it done unto me according to your word.”
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Please pray for all religious women, that we may be faithful to our calling and that we might all grow in charity and virtue. Amen.


  1. Dear Sister Marie, please take time to read the follow-up to the article that Tom Fox posted after the LCWR advised him that his reporting was innacurate. He acknowleged that he LCWR did not send him the list and that the list was incomplete. Tom apologized to the readership for his mistake.

  2. Anonymous,

    If you read my post again you will see that I linked to the retraction which states, "NCR incorrectly reported April 1 a prayer and a list of 19 U.S. religious communities, chosen for site visits as part of a Vatican investigation, came from Apostolic Visitator Mother Mary Clare Millea. In fact, the communication came from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious." Maybe that is what you meant to say in your comment but the information did come from the LCWR and not Mother Clare.

    The issue I am addressing here is the irresponsible and potentially harmful reporting going on at NCR. In my post I am simply pointing out all the insinuations that have been made because of NCR's bad reporting. All you need to do is read the 158 comments on the article to see how slanderous it was to the Apostolic Visitation.

    I am also attempting to be a voice for cooperation and support with and of the Church. I am responding as an individual religious to an issue that effects me very personally in which I have been under- and mis- represented in the news media as a whole, but particularly by the biased reporting by NCR.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. Know of my prayers.

    Sister Marie

  3. I would like to point out that the LCWR did not give the list to the NCR. The list was given, as Tom Fox stated in his article, by an anonymous source.

    Further the leadership of LCWR has not made any public statements regarding the apostolic vistation so I believe your statement that "the LCWR lacks in prudence and sensitivity in dealing with the issue of the visitation" is a judgment on on the organization which it surely does not deserve.

  4. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for pointing that out. I don't know if you are the same anonymous from before or a different one but I made a mistake when I read the retraction when it said, "In fact, the communication came from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious." The communication, seemed to me to be the list of communities. After reading it a few times because of you post I understood what they meant and I apologize.

    However, as a sister in a community that belongs to the LCWR, I do believe that I have the right to criticize the way in which they have dealt with the issue of the visitation. Especially because in their communications they try to speak for ninety-five percent of women religious.

    I do not know where you got the information that the LCWR hasn't issued any public statements but they have.

    For example,

    "In an Aug. 17 press statement, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious also said the leaders 'object to the fact that their orders will not be permitted to see the investigative reports about them' when they are submitted in 2011 to the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and its prefect, Cardinal Franc Rode."

    Thank you for your correction and time. Many prayers to you.

    Sister Marie