Sr Pat Farrell
In an interview with American National Public Radio, Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has defended her group against Vatican criticisms, and said the Conference is still considering its response to a Vatican mandate for reform.
Sister Pat said the criticism of the LCWR, made public by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after its apostolic visitation, centres on the group’s unwillingness to follow the policy directions of the hierarchy, rather than active resistance. The Vatican report, she said, concentrates on “issues we tend to be more silent about when the bishops are speaking out more clearly about some things.”
However, she insisted, the LCWR would continue to push for reform in the Church, saying: “there’s a need for a genuine dialogue and there doesn’t seem to be a climate of that in the Church right now.”
Repeating a theme raised frequently by LCWR defenders, Sister Pat said the nuns represented by the umbrella group “stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives.” For that reason, she said, their perspective is different from that of the American bishops.
Regarding the question of women’s ordination, she said the LCWR advocated that step prior to the Vatican’s definitive statement that women cannot be ordained. “Since then, the Leadership Conference has not spoken publically about the ordination of women,” she said.