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Vatican seeks 'dialogue' with American women's religious congregations

June 14, 2016

The Vatican's Congregation for Religious plans to ask a number of women's religious congregations in the US to answer questions about their practices and their adherence to Church teaching, the National Catholic Reporter has learned. 

The Reporter says that as many as fifteen American religious congregations may be invited to "dialogue" with the Vatican. Cardinal Joao Braz de Aziz, the prefect of the Congregation for Religious, told the Reporter that "four or five" congregations have already been contacted. He emphasized that the conversations had been "very serene," and said that Vatican officials are "listening to what they say in a transparent way, without fear, without judging."

The Vatican conversations with American women religious is an outgrowth of the apostolic visitation that began in 2008 and was ended in December 2014. That investigation-- which had stirred up controversy and met with considerable resistance from many sisters in the US-- concluded with a call for the religious orders to engage in "self-assessment."

Cardinal Braz de Aziz disclosed that the new round of "dialogue" reflects the fact that some questions remained unresolved after the 2014 report. He stressed, however, that the Vatican recognizes the tensions that were roused by the earlier investigation, and is determined to avoid a similar conflict. "Truly, it is not necessary," he told the Reporter.

One American religious order, the Sisters of Loretto, has revealed that its leaders have been asked to visit the Vatican to discuss "ambiguity" in the community's relationship to the Church. 

 
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