We are living at a moment when society is discovering the vast breadth and depth of both the richness and the challenges inherent in the diversity that exists within the human family. That diversity entails a rich mix of differences and encompasses all the dimensions that make each person unique including: ethnicity, race, age, gender and gender identity, beliefs, sexual orientation, and more.
As the world community grapples to understand diversity, we, the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, wholeheartedly join in this exploration. We recognize that this is a difficult journey that requires enormous capacity to transcend ideas that may have shaped our thinking over the course of decades, if not millennia. We acknowledge our need to continuously educate ourselves to understand differences – informed by science as well as theology, to patiently listen in a non-judgmental way to people who suffer because of who they are, and to commit to an unceasing reconsideration of our own ethical judgments in light of new understandings. Furthermore, we recognize that we must grow in our capacity and willingness to experience the pain and struggle of people who have been excluded or subjected to violence by others because of who they are. We know that the more we can see life from the perspective of others, the greater will be our capacity to grasp what they experience and learn from it.
As we work to understand the differences among us, we also pledge ourselves to work towards both inclusion and equity. We believe that all people need to feel valued and connected, and that they belong. All people thrive in environments where their inherent worth is respected, and where they are safe to express their authentic selves. Inclusion helps us all know that we belong to something bigger – the reign of God, in our view as religious. At the same time, we will work to guarantee a society marked by fairness, equal access and opportunity, and justice for all people.
As we continue this lifelong work of non-judgmentally walking along side persons whose ways of being may differ from our own, we anticipate that at times we will fail. We ask for forgiveness when we close our hearts, unconsciously exclude, or speak or act in ways that disrespect another. Like many in society, we know that we do not yet fully understand the diversity among us and that we have much work ahead of us. We believe, however, that the work to comprehend and appreciate what it means to be human in all our glorious diversity -- each one made in the image of God -- may be one of the most important contributions we can make at this critical moment of evolutionary change and growth for the entire global community. As women of faith, we are committed to it.
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM -- LCWR Director of Communications