Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Protests of Treatment of Catholic Sisters

Protestors in Louisville

Check out many more pix of those supporting the sisters and questioning the Bishops' crackdown on LWCR.  CLICK HERE.

"On April 18, 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group that represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.
Stand in solidarity with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). We are shocked by the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s recent crackdown on nuns in the United States. The mandate forced upon LCWR, which threatens their works of justice, is a prime example of how the hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church misuses its power to diminish the voice of women. We value the prophetic witness of women religious and appreciate their commitment to social justice. Sign the petition

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Glenn Loury on James Q. Wilson's Questionable Legacy

Good Questions for our Wilson influenced Criminal Justice system.


Much to Answer For

James Q. Wilson’s Legacy
Zen Sutherland
The esteemed political scientist and criminologist James Q. Wilson died in March. He wrote many important works, including a leading textbook on American government currently in its twelfth edition. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
His most significant legacy, however, lies in the impact of his scholarship and journalism on the contemporary structures of social control in the United States. His 1975 book Thinking About Crime provides academic justification for a massive increase in imprisonment in the United States that began in the late 1970s and has yet fully to run its course. (The United States incarcerates at five times the rate of Britain, the leading jailer in Europe.) It is therefore entirely fitting—indeed, imperative—that there be extensive, critical public discussion about the intellectual impact of this towering figure of the study of American government.
While I came to disagree sharply with him on criminal justice policy, I must acknowledge that I liked Jim Wilson, the man. He was urbane, witty, and generous with his time. He was unfailingly open to hearing both sides of any argument. I knew him to be loyal to a fault, even-tempered, and often a wise observer of American politics. I admired his modesty and his prodigious work ethic. Indeed, my appreciation of “Gentleman Jim” dates back nearly three decades, to 1983, when he came to my humble Afro-American Studies office at Harvard, practically hat in hand, with a draft chapter on “race and crime” for an as-yet-unpublished book, Crime and Human Nature. He was writing it with Richard Herrnstein, who would go on to write The Bell Curve (1994) with Charles Murray. Wilson asked for my unsparing critique, which I provided. It impressed me that, when the book appeared two years later, he and Herrnstein had taken my criticisms seriously.
I went on to work closely with Wilson on a number of projects. In 1987 we co-edited a volume on families, schools, and delinquency prevention. We served together for a decade on the editorial board of the influential neoconservative magazine The Public Interest. And in the early 1990s we were colleagues on the Council of Academic Advisors at the American Enterprise Institute.
That last association ended for me in 1995, when I publicly resigned my position after AEI fellows wrote two incendiary and what seemed to me borderline racist books—The Bell Curve and The End of Racism (1995), by Dinesh D’Souza. In those years, and partly in response to those two books, I began my long march out of the right wing of American intellectual life. And, in so doing, I slowly came to the view—which I continue to hold—that some of Wilson’s labors have done enormous damage to the quality of American democracy. His rationalizing and legitimating of over-reliance on incarceration in U.S. social policy have been particularly destructive. It frustrates me that even as mounting evidence over the past decade showed that crime control had become too punitive, Wilson stubbornly reiterated the views that he had developed four decades ago.
As a public policy intellectual, Wilson was the product of a particular moment in American history. One has to think of him in connection with such writers as his mentor in the Harvard government department, Edward Banfield; his friend and colleague at The Public Interest, Nathan Glazer; and his compatriot and like-minded social critic, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. That generation saw the postwar liberal belief in the possibility of a progressive resolution to the “urban problem” crash upon the rocky shoals of the riot-torn, welfare-fed, criminal, and black 1960s metropolis. While the left did not distinguish itself in those years, neither did Wilson’s cohort. Considered from today’s perspective, much of what the nascent neoconservative thinkers had to say was pretty appalling. Banfield’s classic lament of the failures of 1960s urban policy, The Unheavenly City, looks an awful lot like reactionary drivel. (His argument that persistent poverty is due to the bad values and character of the poor—first set out in his book about Italy, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society—might have made sense for Sicily, but did not travel well to the South Bronx.) And in retrospect Moynihan—whose work Wilson often extolled—hardly comes off looking like a great thinker. Calling a spade a spade turns out not to be a social policy.
In my long march out of the right wing, I came to believe that Wilson’s labors did enormous damage to American democracy.
Call me unforgiving, but I can still remember sitting at Jim and Roberta Wilson’s dinner table in Malibu, California in January 1993 listening to Murray explain, much to my consternation and with Jim’s silent acquiescence, that social inequality is inevitable because “dull” parents are simply less effective at child-rearing than “bright” ones. (I rejected then, and still do, Murray and Herrnstein’s claim that profound social disparities are due mainly to variation in innate individual traits that cannot be remedied via social policy.) Neither can Glenn Loury in 2012 ignore what he failed to see in 1983: that Wilson and Herrnstein’s Crime and Human Nature—a book that sets out to lay bare the underlying bio-genetic, somatic, and psychological determinants of individuals’ criminal behavior—is an enterprise of dubious scientific value. The behavioral theories of social control that Wilson spawned—see, for instance, his 1983 Atlantic Monthly piece, “Raising Kids” (not unlike training pets, as it happens)—and the pop–social psychology salesmanship of his and George Kelling’s so-called “theory” about broken windows is a long way from rocket science, or even good social science. This work looks more like narrative in the service of rationalizing and justifying hierarchy, subordination, coercion, and control. In short, it smacks of highbrow, reactionary journalism.
But, unlike most tabloid scribblers, Wilson’s writings had a massive effect. The broken windows argument—by cracking down on minor offenses, the police can prevent the perception of disorder that leads to more serious crimes—has influenced urban law enforcement strategists throughout the nation. Even so, as scholarly critics across the ideological spectrum have noted, there is little evidence beyond the anecdotal to show that such “quality of life” policing actually leads to lower crime rates. When I consider the impact of his ideas, I can’t help but think about the millions of folks being hassled even as we speak by coercive state agents who are acting on some Wilsonian theory recommending stop-and-frisk policing.
Neither can I overlook the reinforcement of subliminal racial stigmata associated with the institutions of confinement, surveillance, and patrol that Americans have embraced over the past two generations under the watchful and approving gaze of Professor Wilson.
I don’t think Jim Wilson had a racist bone in his body. Neither do I doubt his sincerity when he expressed regret, as he often did, that blacks are overrepresented among those being punished for having committed crimes. But intent is one thing; results are another. A politics of vengeance has abetted the unprecedented rise in U.S. incarceration rates since 1980. I am made keenly aware of the deleterious impact these policies have had on residents of urban black communities, law-abiders and law-breakers alike. This was not Wilson’s intent, but plainly it was one consequence of ideas that he championed.
Was Jim Wilson fair-minded and decent? Yes. Did he run a good meeting? Was he an effective academic entrepreneur? Yes to both. Was he often a penetrating observer of and always a prolific writer on American politics? To be sure. Was he right about the direction that incarceration needed to go in 1970? Perhaps. Did liberals underestimate the fierce political backlash from the disgruntled ethnic working classes circa 1975, as Wilson strongly argued? Yes, they did. Wilson was not wrong about everything.
But is his 1997 book The Moral Sense—which cites human nature to make a case against moral relativism, and which Wilson thought his most important publication—a work for the ages? I doubt it seriously. Is Thinking About Crime up there in the pantheon of American social criticism along with Silent SpringThe Other AmericaThe Feminine Mystique, or The Fire Next Time? Not hardly.
James Q. Wilson was not the Thomas Hobbes of our time—though it is a good guess that he fancied himself grappling with a Leviathan. A cloistered moral sanctimony (“Tobacco shortens one’s life; cocaine debases it”) coupled with an enthusiasm for police work (“prison in America . . . helps explain why this country has a lower rate of burglary than Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Germany, and the Netherlands”): that’s another way to think about the legacy of James Q. Wilson. Unkind to be sure, but not inaccurate.
With all due respect to the influence of his writings on bureaucracy, policing, and social policy, I’m just not buying the hagiographies that appeared in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gifted and Talented Young Man gives all to join Jesuits

Top Boston College grad joining the Jesuits

A great vocation story from the Boston Globe:
Dan Kennedy will graduate from Boston College on Monday, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and the recipient of the school’s most prestigious prize, the Edward H. Finnegan Award.
Winners of the Finnegan, given to the student who best exemplifies the BC motto, “ever to excel,’’ tend to go big – top grad schools, Wall Street, overseas fellowships. Kennedy is planning to give away his computer, recycle his Blackberry, and move to a modest communal house in St. Paul, Minn.
He will get $75 a month for incidentals. He will have no romantic relationships. He will go where his superiors ask him to go, and do what they ask him to do. If all goes well, Kennedy – “Dan-o’’ to his friends – can hope to be ordained a Jesuit priest in 2023.
Entering a religious order straight out of college is rare these days, particularly for a standout student at an elite school. One or two graduating BC seniors enter seminary each year, but never in recent memory has a Finnegan winner done so.
“Um, I could never see Dan-o on Wall Street,’’ Shannon Griesser, a junior, said, laughing. “I’ve never met such a kind human being, to the core.’’
Kennedy is no hermit, though. The 22-year-old and his three roommates are weekend regulars at popular student hangouts like Moogy’s restaurant and Mary Ann’s bar. As he walked around campus last week, iPod-wearing guys in shades and flip-flops slapped him five.
But he is hardly a “laxbro,’’ either, as one of his theology professors, Stephen Pope, quipped. (The term is slang for a lacrosse-obsessed frat brother.)
Medium height and solidly built, the bespectacled Kennedy keeps his room in military order, his comforter neatly folded, paper clips and pens exactingly arrayed in his desk drawer. He uses words like “unitive,’’ as in, “There’s nothing more unitive than enjoying a meal together.’’ There is no self-consciousness in his voice when he talks about his motivation for becoming a Jesuit: “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ.’’
“It’s the love I feel from God, and how I want to reciprocate that,’’ he said.
At the 10:15 p.m., Mass at Corcoran Commons last Sunday, Kennedy tended to his duties as sacristan in a faded green shirt, khakis and Crocs. He could scarcely take a step without someone hugging him or clapping him on the shoulder, and he stopped, again and again, to reciprocate. He radiated affability but spoke quietly, drawing privacy from the noise of the crowd.
“There’s a thing at BC called the ‘BC lookaway,’ where you meet somebody out or in class or you see them on campus, and you kind of look at your phone or look away,’’ said Dave Cronin, a senior. “Dan-o does not do the BC lookaway. He calls you by name. He knows who you are.’’
“And it’s never ‘Hi,’ and keep walking. It’s ‘Hi, how are you?’ ’’ said Brian Palumbo, also a senior. “You can tell he actually wants to know.’’

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another voice supporting the Sisters

May 20, 2012

The Bishops’ Disregard of American Nuns

To the Editor:
Re “Nuns on the Frontier,” by Anne M. Butler (Op-Ed, May 16):
Ms. Butler gives us a chilling history of nuns bullied and abused by a dictatorial Catholic Church leadership in the settling of the American West. Sadly, religious communities of women all across the country and the world can trump those tales with worse narratives of negligent, insensitive, unjust and inappropriate use of authority by the church leadership.
The greatest strength of the church in this country has been the witness and achievements of nuns. Ironically, it is the rare priest who does not trace his vocation to the inspired ministry of the sisters.
Rightly or wrongly, the bishops are perceived by the American Catholic faithful as complacent in the disrespect and disregard of American nuns shown in the disproportionate response of Rome to complaints against the leadership of the congregations of these great women.
What is at stake here is the moral voice of the church, which is squandered by the expanding list of failures of the bishops to be effective teachers. Those failures include the horrendous disregard for the safety of our children in too many instances without any accountability; carelessness in public statements on highly complex pastoral issues; poor process and failures of common courtesy in disagreements with people of good will inside or outside the church; and now silence as the sisters are dragged under a cloud.
I know so many bishops to be men of great faith, compassion and good will. That is why I grieve at the ineffectiveness of the body of bishops as teachers and at the loss of their moral voice.
Teaching is never effective through force or bullying. It never works if those being taught feel disrespected or devalued, and it is no longer teaching if it descends into a mere exercise of control.
The sisters have been the church’s great teachers, using the witness of their lives and works to teach. American Catholics and the broader country will hear the moral voice of the bishops when they are experienced as teachers standing among their people as ones who serve.
New Rochelle, N.Y., May 16, 2012
The writer is president emeritus of the College of New Rochelle, a Catholic college.

These Gals Built The Church! NUNS ON FRONTIER. NY Times

May 15, 2012
Nuns on the Frontier
By ANNE M. BUTLER   Fernandina Beach, Fla. 

THE recent Vatican edict that reproached American nuns for their liberal views on social and political issues has put a spotlight on the practices of these Roman Catholic sisters. While the current debate has focused on the nuns’ progressive stances on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, the all-male priesthood and economic injustice, tension between American nuns and the church’s male hierarchy reaches much further back. 

In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West, braving hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy that, then as now, frequently exploited and disdained them was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change. 

Like other settlers in the West, Catholic nuns were mostly migrants from Europe or the American East; the church had turned to them to create a Catholic presence across a seemingly limitless frontier. The region’s rocky mining camps, grassy plains and arid deserts did not appeal to many ordained men. As one disenchanted European priest, lamenting the lack of a good cook and the discomfort of frontier travel, grumbled, “I hate the long, dreary winters of Iowa.”
Bishops relentlessly recruited sisters for Western missions, enticing them with images of Christian conversions, helpful local clergymen and charming convent cottages. If the sisters hesitated, the bishops mocked their timidity, scorned their selfishness and threatened heavenly retribution. 

The sisters proved them wrong. By steamboat, train, stagecoach and canoe, on foot and on horseback, the nuns answered the call. In the 1840s, a half-dozen sisters from Notre Dame de Namur, a Belgian order, braved stormy seas and dense fog to reach Oregon. In 1852, seven Daughters of Charity struggled on the backs of donkeys across the rain-soaked Isthmus of Panama toward California. In 1884, six Ursuline nuns stepped from a train in Montana, only to be left by the bishop at a raucous public rooming house, its unheated loft furnished only with wind and drifting snow. 

These nuns lived in filthy dugouts, barns and stables, hoped for donations of furniture, and survived on a daily ration of one slice of bread or a bowl of onion soup along with a cup of tea. They made their own way, worked endless hours, often walked miles to a Catholic chapel for services, and endured daunting privations in housing and nutrition. 

There appeared to be no end to what was expected of the sisters. In 1874, two Sisters of the Holy Cross, at the direction of Edward Sorin, the founder of the University of Notre Dame, opened a Texas school and orphanage in a two-room shack with a leaky dormitory garret that the nuns affectionately labeled “The Ark.” The brother who managed the congregation’s large farm informed the sisters, who were barely able to feed and clothe the 80 boarders, that he could not give the school free produce — though they could buy it at a discount. The sisters also did 18 years of unpaid housekeeping work on a farm run by the men. 

Sisters adapted to these physical, spiritual and fiscal exploitations with amazingly good humor. Still, they chafed against their male superiors’ unreasonable restrictions and harsh dictates. When they directly questioned policy, bishops and priests moved to silence them. A single protest could draw draconian reprisals on an entire congregation.
In 1886, four Texas priests demanded that Bishop John C. Néraz replace a superior, Mother St. Andrew Feltin, saying that she had “spread gossip” and warned her sisters “to beware of priests.” 

Bishop Néraz threatened the sisterhood with disbandment and removed Mother St. Andrew from office. He hounded her for years, disciplined other nuns she had befriended, suspended her right to the sacraments, warned other bishops not to grant her sanctuary, undercut her efforts to enter a California convent and even urged her deportation to Europe. Finally, Mother St. Andrew laid aside her religious clothing, returned to secular dress and cared for her widowed brother’s children. 

Six years after Bishop Néraz died, Mother St. Andrew petitioned her congregation for readmission. Donning her habit, she renewed her vows amid a warm welcome from sisters who understood too well what she had suffered. 

Then as now, not all priests and bishops treated sisters badly, though the priests who reached out to nuns in a spirit of appreciation, friendship and equality could not alter the church’s institutional commitment to gender discrimination. And, as now, some bishops, dismissive of the laity, underestimated the loyalty secular Catholics felt for their nuns.

In the case of Mother St. Andrew, tenacity and spirituality triumphed over arrogance and misogyny. The Vatican would do well to bear this history in mind as it thinks through the consequences of its unjust attack on American sisters. 

Anne M. Butler, a professor emerita of history at Utah State University, is the author of the forthcoming book “Across God’s Frontiers: Catholic Sisters in the American West, 1850-1920.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"It's been a long day" from Final In Plain Sight Episode

"It's been a long Day": Great Song from Final Episode of "In Plain Sight." Message of final show? Life is messy!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

International Business Times. Bishops Tell Ryan, "Jesus not Ayn Rand"

Catholic Bishops Say GOP Budget 'Fails Basic Moral Test,' Points to Food Stamps, Medicaid Cuts

By Ashley Portero May 9, 2012 3:25 PM EDT

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops may have jumped to the Republicans' defense during the national debate surrounding contraception, but on Tuesday, the religious organization questioned the GOP's moral fortitude in regards to a proposed House budget it says would gut crucial safety net programs for the poor.

In a letter addressed to the U.S. House of Representatives, the bishops questioned the budget cuts to food stamps, health care and other entitlement programs contained in the House Republican budget, which was authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic. In particular, they criticized the Republicans' attempt to target those programs as part of a reconciliation package that will set spending levels for the next fiscal year.
"A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly," wrote Reverend Stephen E. Blaire, the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

As Blaire pointed out, the House GOP proposal aims to alter the Child Tax Credit to exclude immigrant families, "the large majority of whom are American citizens." It would also impose cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), which the bishop wrote would be "a direct threat to [the] human dignity" of poor families. Moreover, the budget also includes cuts to the Social Services Block Grant, which provides aid for the elderly, disabled, children living in poverty and abuse victims.

"The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test," states the letter. "Poor and vulnerable people do not have powerful lobbyists to advocate their interests, but they have the most compelling needs."

Under the Republican plan, nearly two million people would lose food assistance through SNAP, while at least 750,000 would lose access to health insurance via cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and another 23 million would be affected by the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, according to an analysis of the plan from Democrats on the House Budget Committee.
Ryan, as the House Budget Chairman who is also a rumored contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination, has been under particular pressure to answer for the perceived moral failings pointed out by the Catholic bishops. The Wisconsin Republican was blasted by Catholic groups after saying his austere budget was inspired by Catholic teachings.

Although Ryan, while speaking at the Catholic-affiliated Georgetown University last month, insisted his plan called for a system that would create the economic growth necessary to lift people out of poverty, faculty members penned a letter to Ryan challenging his understanding of Catholic doctrine.

"In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love," stated the letter, which was signed by almost 90 of the university's faculty members.

Rand was the creator of the philosophy known as objectivism, which advocates rational self-interest -- the pursuit of one's individual  happiness -- as the moral purpose for life and celebrates individualism over collectivism.
Shortly after his Georgetown appearance, Ryan -- who has often been characterized as an Ayn Rand junkie -- told the National Review that he "rejects" Rand's philosophy and dismissed the idea that he admires the author as an "urban legend."
But any urban legend about Ryan's affinity for the author, who is widely admired among conservatives and libertarians, started with Ryan himself. During a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, Ryan gushed that he gave away copies of Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" as Christmas presents and recommended it to his interns.

He reportedly reiterated that sentiment again in 2005, during an event honoring Rand in Washington, D.C., hosted by The Atlas Society.

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thing, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said while speaking at the event, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Jason McGlynn is a friend who has written a fascinating new book Divine Towels.   He has Cerebral Palsy and his perspective enriches us all.    Peace, Fr. Rick

Divine Towels

Authored by Beau Jason McGlynn

Divine Towels is a fictional story where Jesus asks Ethan and his mother, Claire, to do a very special mission for Him: open a nonprofit store, called Divine Towels, where people have their feet washed. Depending on how much faith people have, they will be given healing in one form or another according to God's will and in his time. Some may be healed of their physical ailments or could be healed in other ways: being blessed with spiritual gifts and being empowered through the Holy Spirit to do mighty works or walking away feeling an overwhelming peace. Those who are healed think differently and have the uncanny ability to come up with unique solutions to complex problems.

Jesus said that until we get past the milk of the gospel and can overcome the obstacles of our lives, we can never move on to the gospel's true meat. Divine Towels provides a means and empowers people to bulldoze the obstacles that prevent them from accessing the storehouses of provision filled with meat. By fixing your eyes on Jesus and doing what He commands, it is possible to rekindle the flame of passion and zest for life that was so visible in the Acts of the Apostles.

Divine Towels is a bold book that has the power to change your life as well as remind Christians of what their role is in the world today! It revitalizes weary, tired souls, especially in a time when people feel as if they are living on autopilot and there is little hope.

Publication Date: May 02 2012
ISBN/EAN13:1475093829 / 9781475093827.  Page Count:272

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Finally, Jesuits Speak Up About the Sisters

Current Comment

the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

Praise for Sisters

     We would be seriously remiss if we published an issue focusing on education without mentioning the extraordinary contributions women religious have made to Catholic education in this country. It is even more important to highlight their contribution in the wake of the “Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious” just issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which saddened many religious sisters in the United States by its strong critique. The L.C.W.R. represents over 80 percent of women’s religious congregations in the United States.
Working for meager pay (which they passed on to their communities), women religious have taken the lead in working with people on the margins: not only schoolchildren, but indigent patients in hospitals, the imprisoned in jail cells and the homeless in the inner cities. Not satisfied with works of charity at home, they have labored in fields afar; some have paid with their lives. The martyrdoms in Central and Latin America of Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Maryknoll Sisters; Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun; and in Brazil of Dorothy Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, testify not simply to the Gospel but to a certain kind of woman. These were the women who wholeheartedly embraced the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar decrees by revisiting the founding documents of their orders and throwing themselves into ministry with the poor, all as the church had asked of them.
      Ironically, the C.D.F. assessment was released the same day the Vatican announced that reconciliation talks with the Society of St. Pius X, which rejected many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, were proceeding apace.

Question Time

     In the wake of the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, with many others we offer our support to the sisters. Ten years after the emergence of the sexual abuse crisis, transparency in disciplinary proceedings is more important than ever. Gaps in the public record need to be filled in.
     First, there is the history of the assessment. Catholics in the United States and elsewhere are curious about where it came from. How did it originate? Who were the petitioners? Was the U.S. bishops’ conference ever involved or consulted? When and how? When and why and at whose request were Network and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes added to the inquiry?
     There is the matter, too, of the selective nature of the inquiry. Have conferences of religious in other countries been criticized for being less vocal and active in their advocacy than their bishops would have liked? Have conferences of religious in other countries also spoken too softly on issues about which the American sisters were allegedly too quiet? Are other institutes and societies, such as personal prelatures and associations of the faithful, under similar scrutiny for their public involvement or lack thereof?
     The process should now be an occasion for respectful, candid dialogue. It will be aided by the inclusion of more bishops and other religious, especially those who are canonists, theologians and pastoral ministers. As we wait for more information and for the L.C.W..R.’s formal public statement, we need to calm our hearts. As Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg noted on his blog (“The Nuns’ Story,” April 24), some investigations, like that of American women religious in the 1980s, improved understanding on both sides and strengthened working relationships. Let us pray that may be the case again.