Holy Cross to Lead Discussion on Conflict Between Vatican and Nuns

January 17th, 2013 by 

Image by John Buckingham

The College of the Holy Cross will hold a panel discussion on the current conflict between the Vatican and the leadership community for American nuns on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, Smith Hall, at the College. The event, sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, is free and open to the public.

Last year, the Vatican released a critical report on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella organization representing 80 percent of American nuns, citing “serious doctrinal problems” and “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The report alleges that the nuns have focused too much on social justice issues such as poverty and have not taken a strong enough stance against same-sex marriage, abortion and the ordination of women. It appointed a team of U.S. bishops to overhaul the sisters’ governance and programs. The sisters rejected the takeover but have voted to open dialogue with the bishops and Vatican to seek a resolution.

The panel discussion at Holy Cross will consider the contributions of Women Religious in shaping American Catholic life, the changes that have taken place since Vatican II, and what strategies they have in place to move forward. Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Office of College Chaplains at Holy Cross, will moderate. The panelists are:

Sr. Donna Markham, vice president of behavioral health services at Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati. Sr. Markham is a past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and former prioress and general councilor of the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has consulted at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, and served as special assistant to the president at Georgetown University.

Sr. Jane Morrissey, co-founder and executive director of Homework House, Inc., a free after-school tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk students with three sites in Holyoke and Springfield, Mass. A sister of Saint Joseph of Springfield, Sr. Morrissey is a former president of her congregation and has worked among the poor in several Latin American countries and closer to home in Springfield. She has studied at Oxford University and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto and earned her doctorate in English from the University of Massachusetts.

Learn more and watch lectures online at www.holycross.edu/mcfarlandcenter.

About the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture:

Established in 2001 and housed in Smith Hall, the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture provides resources for faculty and course development, sponsors conferences and college-wide teaching events, hosts visiting fellows, and coordinates a number of campus lecture series. Rooted in the College’s commitment to invite conversation about basic human questions, the Center welcomes persons of all faiths and seeks to foster dialogue that acknowledges and respects differences, providing a forum for intellectual exchange that is interreligious, interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international in scope.  The Center also brings members of the Holy Cross community into conversation with the Greater Worcester community, the academic community, and the wider

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