LCWR Statement on Sexual Abuse by Clergy
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
August 23, 2018
[Silver Spring, MD] The recent news detailing the extensive and sometimes brutal sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests in the United States has left us at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious sickened and ashamed of the church we love, trusted, and have committed our lives to serve. We weep and grieve with all who over the decades have been victimized by sexual predators within the faith community and feel their pain as our own. We recognize that the damage done to many is irreparable.
Sexual abuse is a horrific crime, and the horror is so much worse when committed by persons in whom society has placed its trust and confidence. Equally difficult to comprehend is the culture within the church hierarchy that tolerated the abuse, left children and vulnerable adults subject to further abuse, and created practices that covered up the crimes and protected the abusers.
We call upon the church leadership to implement plans immediately to support more fully the healing of all victims of clergy abuse, hold abusers accountable, and work to uncover and address the root causes of the sexual abuse crisis. We believe that the work to implement the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its subsequent revisions has been an important and effective step in addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. We have watched the Conference of Major Superiors of Men diligently work to assure the protection and safety of children and youth and applaud its efforts. However, it is clear that more serious action needs to be taken to assure that the culture of secrecy and cover-up ends.
We also call upon church leaders to attend to the severe erosion of the church’s moral standing in the world. Its members are angry, confused, and struggling to find ways to make sense of the church’s failings. The church leadership needs to speak with honesty and humility about how this intolerable culture developed and how that culture will now be deconstructed, and to create places where church members can express our anger and heartbreak. We call on the leaders to include competent members of the laity more fully in the work to eradicate abuse and change the culture, policies, and practices. We are committed to collaborate in the essential work of healing and transformation that our church so desperately needs.
Finally, we recognize that the vast majority of priests have not committed abuse and are suffering greatly because of the actions of some of their brothers. We offer them our prayer and support as they continue their ministries in these very challenging times and as they too struggle to understand the complexity of factors that led to this deplorable situation.
LCWR Disappointed in Court’s Decision to Uphold President Trump’s Muslim Ban
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
The Leadership Conference of Woman Religious is deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of President Donald J. Trump v. State of Hawaii that challenged the legality of the Trump Administration’s third attempt at a Muslim ban. The court’s flawed ruling adds to the climate of fear and anti-Muslim sentiment in this country and threatens the values upon which our national community is built.
As women of faith, as Catholic sisters, we believe that all people are created in God’s image, all are worthy of respect, and all are entitled to the protection of their human rights and religious liberty. We strongly object to President Trump’s continued attempts to use his authority to create policy by fiat, particularly when that policy is used to deny access to our Muslim sisters and brothers because of their religion. Such discrimination violates our deeply held faith beliefs and is inimical to the principles upon which this nation was founded.
LCWR joined other faith-based groups in filing amicus briefs in this case challenging the government-imposed anti-Muslim discrimination. When religious-based discrimination is permitted, especially when sanctioned by those at the highest levels of government, the free-exercise of religion by members of all faiths is threatened.
We will stand with the Muslim community and all who are subjected to the deeply troubling discriminatory policies of this administration. We call on Congress to exercise its power to challenge the President’s offensive and dangerous policy and ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are upheld.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. LCWR has nearly 1300 members, who represent approximately 38,800 women religious. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.
Our prayers go out…
Mourning is Not Enough: LCWR Calls for Action to Prevent Gun Violence
Leadership Conference of Women Religious, February 23, 2018
On February 14 a very troubled 19-year-old took an AR-15 assault rifle to Marjory Stoneman High School and opened fire killing 14 students and three staff members. The shooting was a horrible tragedy that has become all too familiar to students, teachers, and parents across the country.
The heartbreak in Parkland, Florida is far too common. A recent study of World Health Organization data published in the American Journal of Medicine found that, among high-income nations, 91 percent of children younger than 15 who were killed by bullets lived in the United States. Guns are linked to roughly 33,000 deaths in the United States per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; about two-thirds of them are suicides.
Where is the outrage? Have we become immune to the horror? Why are elected officials unwilling to confront the epidemic of gun violence that is sweeping the nation? When will the killing stop?
Our hearts and prayers go out to those in Parkland even as we continue to mourn with those in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Charleston, Newtown, Columbine, Sutherland Springs, and in countless other cities and towns across this nation who have lost loved ones to gun violence. We grieve with mothers and fathers whose children were victims of senseless killing made easy by the proliferation of guns and the pervasive culture of violence.
There is much to mourn, but mourning is not enough. Prayers and condolences are not enough. The killing must stop. It is well past time that we enacted sensible gun violence prevention legislation. This is not about protecting the second amendment. It is about protecting the most precious resource we have, the gift of life.
We call our elected officials to immediately take up legislation that:
- requires universal background checks and mandatory waiting periods for all gun purchases;
- bans civilian ownership of high-capacity weapons and magazines; and
- makes gun trafficking a federal crime.
We commend the young people of Parkland for taking up the important work of gun violence prevention. We will stand with you as you advocate for legislation that will save lives. We will join you in the March 24 “March for Our Lives.” We will walk with you as together we seek to put an end to violence and follow the path of peace.
In this Lenten season as we recall the life Jesus, the Christ, let us pray for the grace to embrace his way of nonviolence and let us never doubt that the deep darkness of these days will be overcome by the radiant light of our lives and actions lived in love.
The following statement regarding Climate Control is from the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. We, the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, embrace wholeheartedly the statement in its entirety.
The Benedictine Sisters of Erie will continue to take action on Climate Change
As prioress I speak for the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. We are disheartened and concerned by the announcement of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the global agreement to combat Climate Change.
Care for the earth has been integral to the Benedictine Charism since our very foundation in the 6th century. The Erie Benedictines have consciously and deliberately included this responsibility in our community’s Corporate Commitment and have taken significant steps. Both as community and as individuals, we have deepened our understanding and been intentional in our actions toward sustainable living.
Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si, clearly lays out the crisis that our planet faces and calls all of us, all nations, all religions, all people, to find a common solution to Climate Change. “Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference., nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity…All of us can cooperate as instruments of god for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents (Laudato Si, 14).
The decision of President Trump is deeply disturbing, but it strengthens the resolve of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie to be faithful to the responsibility we embraced when we signed the Paris Pledge in November 2015. We believe that all of creation is sacred and to be reverenced; to this end we will continue to uphold our commitment to a 50% reduction of carbon pollution by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050.
As individuals, as religious communities, as Church, we must increase our efforts to do what we can. We urge everyone to make his/her/their own commitment to reduce carbon pollution through energy conservation, purchasing electricity from a “green provider,” and making use of renewable energy products and sources. If we expect nations to commit to significant energy policies, then we should do so ourselves at home, in the workplace, in our churches, and in all the places that touch our lives. Now is the time to take decisive steps in our commitment to environmental sustainability. Now is the time to protect our common home. Now is the time to lead by example. “While the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference (Laudato Si, 179).”
Sister Anne Wambach, Prioress
PLEDGE TO END DEATH PENALTY
Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, August 18, 2017
National Catholic Pledge to end the Death Penalty
“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom” – Pope Francis
In response to Pope Francis’s call, I pledge to educate, advocate, and pray for the end of the death penalty:
I will educate myself and my community about the injustices of the death penalty, including the ways it risks innocent life, fails victims’ families, and contradicts the Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching.
I will fulfill the call to discipleship by advocating for the dignity of all life, including those who are on death row and awaiting execution, and by actively working to end the death penalty in my state and in my country.
I will pray for mercy and healing for all who are involved in the criminal justice system: victims of crime and their families, those in prison and on death row, communities where crimes are committed, and all who work in the legislative system.
God of mercy, help me to remember your loving compassion as I go forward to work for an end to the death penalty. Allow me to be a vessel for your mercy, so as to heal the broken and welcome the outcast. Amen.
STATEMENT OF CORPORATE STANCE ON RACISM
Leadership Conference of Women Religious, August 16, 2017
LCWR Condemns Racism in All Forms
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious condemns racism in all its harmful forms whether the violent acts of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacist groups or the daily acts of hate and discrimination that diminish us all.
We grieve with the citizens of Charlottesville and all people of goodwill. We mourn with all who have lost loved ones, with all who live in fear, with all whose dignity is threatened by hate and violence. We lament the racism that continues to afflict our communities and threaten the values that we hold dear.
We acknowledge our own complicity in institutional racism. We commit ourselves to cleanse our hearts and rid our land of this evil. We promise to pray for our country and to continue to use our voice and our energy to build God’s beloved community where all are one in Christ Jesus.
LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.
STATEMENT OF CORPORATE STANCE ON RACISM
Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, February 4, 2017
In the spirit of the centuries-old Rule of Benedict which urges us to listen with the ear of the heart and to respect the gifts of each person as unique individuals, we, the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, recognize the injustices caused by racism in our society. Our communities have made many efforts to address this injustice as a social sin in which we take part. We recognize that our society, culture, and country are at a time when many implications and effects of racism are emerging on every side. The conversion called for is pervasive. In solidarity with other religious/faith leaders, we recognize that racial injustice is social sin –
To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of a human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s (and corporate) sin in some way affects others. …Every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family.” Pope John Paul ll, December 2, 1984.
Therefore, at this time in our history, we join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and with all people of faith to commit ourselves to:
- Examine the root causes of injustice, particularly of racism, as a consequence of unacknowledged white privilege, and our own complicity over the years in this societal reality;
- Work to effect systemic change that will promote a society that respects all people and that recognizes the equality, human dignity and human rights of all.
We commit ourselves to use our collective voice, resources, and power in collaboration with others to establish racial justice which reflects God’s abundant love and mercy.
We recognize the value of:
- Racial solidarity training;
- Creating safe spaces for truth and reconciliation processes;
- Training in nonviolent conflict transformation;
- Programs training unarmed civilian peace makers in our regions;
- Ongoing de-escalation training for police;
- Dialogue with people of color and varied origins.
- Our prayer;
- Educational efforts;
STATEMENT OF CORPORATE STANCE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Conference of Benedictine Prioresses
Committed to the Benedictine motto of PAX and to personal and social transformation of our culture of fear to a culture of love and right relationship, the membership of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, a group of fifty-seven monasteries representing 2620 women religious, denounce the practice of human trafficking and commit to the work of bringing about the elimination of this evil practice. We invite all who are drawn to this cause to join with us by continuing to learn and to raise the awareness among family, friends and co-workers.
STATEMENT OF CORPORATE STANCE ON IMMIGRATION
We, the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, join our voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), with Network, and with the bipartisan legislative effort to create a comprehensive immigration reform.
As immigrants themselves, our Benedictine foremothers understood the needs of immigrants coming to this country. They served well and nurtured faith in this new land. In our time of numerous migrations, we acknowledge the rich contribution made by immigrant people and decry the unjust treatment they are too often compelled to endure.
Rooted in the wellsprings of Christian Scriptures, we recall the migrations of our forebearers – Sara and Abraham, who left their homeland (Genesis 12:1-3) as well as Moses, who led the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10), and we hear the clear gospel call to welcome the stranger into our midst (Mt. 25:35).
As Benedictine monastic women, we listen with the ear of our hearts (Prologue of the Rule of Benedict) as we call for compassion and justice for all immigrant people. We are animated by our Rule which bids us to welcome, as Christ, all guests who present themselves (Rule of Benedict 53:1). Hospitality is a core value of Benedictine spirituality as well as a sacred duty and trust. Because we know that it is God whom we receive in the “other”, we dare to speak out, even in this age of violence and fear of the stranger. We are compelled to raise our voices in an effort to transform the culture of fear and exclusion into one of peace and inclusion where the “stranger” becomes friend.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The central features of any immigration reform need to be:
- a clear and secure path to legal documentation and citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who are currently in the United States ,
- a family-based reunification system that keeps families together.
- a revision of the current visa system especially for migrant workers.
- protection for all workers’ rights,
- a speedy enactment of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act with an option for community service in lieu of military service.
- reform of the detention and deportation system with due process.
- a fair and expedient process for asylum seekers.
As people of faith and citizens of the United States of America , we urge our country to establish compassionate and just policies to offer newcomers opportunities to participate fully in our society, to satisfy their basic human needs, to share their many gifts with us, and to live according to their human dignity.
February 4, 2013
STATEMENT OF CORPORATE STANCE ON GUN VIOLENCE
A Statement of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, March 21, 2013
As Benedictine monastic women we stand united in a 1500 – year tradition, rooted in Gospel values of peace and non-violence. Our Benedictine way of life requires us not only to be people of peace but also “to foster peace in the society around us.”1 That peace is based on right relationships and mutual respect. Any violation of the rights and integrity of people, of the land, and of the environment is an act of violence. A definite culture of violence is pervasive in our society in movies, television programming, video games, music and advertisements. The proliferation of guns, both legal and illegal, has contributed to a significant increase in violence in the United States and in the drug wars in Mexico .
In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than 3 deaths each hour.2. In Mexico, 15,273 died in drug war gun violence alone that same year.3 Over 68% of the traced guns used in crimes in Mexico between 2007 and 2010 came from the United States. 4 The United States has the highest rate of gun-related injuries among developed countries, as well as the highest rate of gun ownership. Besides the deaths and tragedies for families, friends and associates, gun violence also affects society in other ways, including higher medical costs, reductions in quality of life because of fear of gun violence and stresses on the criminal justice system.5
To help create healthier environments in families, schools and communities and to reduce the impact of gun-related violence, the American Psychological Association recommends multiple approaches, among which are education, training, access to mental health treatment, program funding and research.6 The Conference of Benedictine Prioresses endorses their recommendations.
In his holy rule, our founder St. Benedict states, “Your way of acting must be different from the world’s way.”7 We, the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, are compelled to address the rampant culture of gun violence and disregard for human life. Therefore, in concert with statements issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops8 and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious9 we call on lawmakers to:
- Close loopholes and require every person who buys a gun to pass a criminal background check.
- Ban the sale of assault style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.
- Make gun trafficking a federal crime.
- Strengthen federal laws to stem the flow of American weapons that contribute to the drug trafficking violence in Mexico.10
- Fund robust care for those with mental illness, ensuring that health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid offer mental health benefits at parity.11
- Provide for early identification and intervention for children and young adults in need of mental health treatment.
- Increase the number of well-trained mental health professionals available for school and community gun violence prevention, intervention, threat assessment, and crisis management.
- End the freeze on gun violence research.12
- Address the growing use of violence as a means of entertainment in films, television program, video games, music and advertisements.
- Conference of Benedictine Prioresses “Of All Good Gifts”, 1980
- Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Gun Violence Statistics November 18, 2012 http://smartgunlaws.org/category/gun-studies-statistics/gun-violence-statistics Retrieved March 5, 2013
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/mexico-drug-war-deaths-2010_n_808277.html retrieved 3/17/13
- “Between 2007 and 2011, 68.5 percent of firearms recovered in Mexico and submitted to ATF for tracing came from the United States” http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/4/feinstein-new-atf-data-proves-overwhelming-majority-of-guns-recovered-in-mexico-come-from-u-s
- American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/gun-violence-prevention.aspx. Retrieved February 8, 2013
- American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/violence/gun-related.aspx Retrieved February 8, 2013
- The Rule of St. Benedict 4:20
- Testimony submitted before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary “Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the Second Amendment” February 12, 2013 http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/upload/USCCB-Senate-Testimony-Proposals-to-Reduce-Gun-Violence-2013.pdf Retrieved March 5, 2013
- LCWR: A Response to the Newtown Tragedy December 20, 2012 https://lcwr.org/media/news/lcwr-response-newtown-tragedy Retrieved March 5, 2013
- http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/4/feinstein-new-atf-data-proves-overwhelming-majority-of-guns-recovered-in-mexico-come-from-u-s. Retrieved March 17, 2013
- The APA states, “Mental health and substance use parity means that coverage for mental health and substance use benefits must be at least equal to coverage for physical health benefits… In other words, all of the financial requirements and treatment limitations applied to mental health and substance use benefits may be no more restrictive than those applied to physical health benefits”. A parity law became effective in 2010. Further information can be found at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/federal-parity-law.aspx Retrieved March 5, 2013
- For 17 years there has been a ban on government research into the public health effects of gun violence. Information about this can be found on the web: http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16532333-obama-plan-eases-freeze-on-cdc-gun-violence-research?lite Retrieved March 5, 2013