The following is from an Aug. 31 entry on the blog of Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire.
On Friday, August 24, I invited the Religious Women of the Diocese to meet with me so that I could hear their thoughts about the Investigation of LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious). The Sisters present were not all members of LCWR and included Religious Communities from other countries serving in the diocese of Stockton. The Sisters expressed a strong bond with one another and generally were disheartened at what they perceived as a lack of trust toward the congregational leaders who participate in LCWR. They perceive the process to have been predetermined to the extent of making genuine dialogue very difficult, finding themselves in less than an equitable position for interaction with the Vatican representatives.
They would like to proceed ahead in dialogue where there is mutual trust based on listening and openness to finding common ground for resolution of the concerns which have been raised.
Throughout my life I have had a wonderful association with women religious. My own sister was a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross so I grew up with Sisters often visiting in our home. I was given an outstanding elementary education from the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. In the years I was a Catholic school principal I was deeply indebted to women religious for all their good work in the education and formation of the youth. In the years I worked at the diocesan level, both as an administrator and later as a bishop, I have been incredibly grateful to the Sisters on the staff for their leadership, competency and dedication to the work of the Church. I still say today that I would find it very difficult to run the diocese without the quality Religious who work at the diocesan level and in our parishes.
At our meeting I heard their hurt, but at the same time I heard over and over again their love for the Church to which they have dedicated their lives.
I have great hope from what I have read that the Vatican delegates under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle and the LCWR Leadership will listen carefully to each other (after all, men and women do think and make decisions differently). I am confident that with trust and good will they can move ahead to resolutions that advance the Church’s mission of evangelization in the world.