Vatican dialogue with U.S. women religious continues, cardinal says

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — More than a year after the conclusion
of the Vatican’s apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of women religious,
the Vatican began asking more than a dozen orders to send their superiors to
Rome to discuss concerns that surfaced.

“We did a very positive report at the conclusion of the
visitation,” a report that looked at the life of women’s congregations in
the United States as a whole and was released in December 2014, said Cardinal
Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated
Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

But “there remained about 15 — more or less —
congregations that we needed to speak with about a few points,” the
cardinal told Catholic News Service June 14. The cardinal had attended a news
conference about a new document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith looking at the relationship between the hierarchy and communities or
movements that arise from “charismatic gifts.”

“When you are speaking of religious orders, secular
institutes and the order of virgins, all of this is part of the charismatic
side of the church,” he said. More than 2,000 orders and institutes are
recognized by the Vatican as “paths of a special encounter with God,”
the cardinal said, but it is the responsibility of bishops and the church’s
hierarchy to support and guide them.

When he announced the conclusion of the visitation, Cardinal
Braz de Aviz had told the press that “individual reports will be sent to
those institutes which hosted an onsite visitation and to those institutes
whose individual reports indicated areas of concern — because there are some
of those, too.”

Speaking to CNS June 14, the cardinal said, “I don’t
know if the Sisters of Loretto are still in the phase of the review of the
visitation that the Holy See conducted, but I believe so.”

In early June, the Global Sisters Report said that Sister
Pearl McGivney, president of the Sisters of Loretto, had been asked to come to
Rome to discuss alleged “ambiguity” in the order’s adherence to
church teaching and its way of living religious life.

The cardinal told CNS that his office’s questions were not a
judgment and, because the actual site visits took place between 2009 and 2012, “we
do not know yet if they are still of concern or not because many years have

“We are in dialogue” with the congregations, he
said. “And it is going very well. We already have spoken with six or
seven. It is going very well. It is a serene dialogue, a dialogue to see where
and how we can help.”

“We are calling some to Rome in order to better
understand,” the cardinal said. “With some there is no longer
anything that needs to be done because they already have completed a whole
process” of adjusting issues that were of concern to the Vatican. In those
cases, he said, “we embrace and get back to work.”

A statement posted June 9 on the Sisters of Loretto’s
website said Cardinal Braz de Aviz asked Sister McGivney to “come to Rome
to discuss some areas of concern which surfaced during the apostolic visitation

“The Loretto community engaged wholeheartedly in the apostolic
visitation process and, through it, affirmed our Loretto charism and our lives
together,” the statement said. “Four sisters from other congregations
visited us at our motherhouse. They interviewed 90 sisters as well as
co-members, students, teachers in our schools and other colleagues. The
visitors seemed warm and genuinely interested in our lives. They did not
inquire about these ‘areas of concern’ with our elected leadership during this
visitation, and we had no expectation that six years later we would find
ourselves being asked to come to Rome to address any outstanding issues.”

Still, the statement said, “we are confident that our
dialogue with the Vatican will be fruitful.”

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