Women In Major Decision-Making Roles for Catholic Church: Ground-Breaking Study Results Released on International Women’s Day

 (Silver Spring, MD, 6 March 2002) – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) will hold a press conference March 8, 2002, to release the results of the first academic study of women’s experience in Catholic Church leadership roles. Following four years of research, this LCWR study provides empirical proof that Catholic women – married, single, and religious sisters - are already participating in the administration of the Catholic Church by making high-level executive decisions affecting Church personnel, property and policy. 

 “LCWR chose to release the Women and Jurisdiction study on International Women’s Day to acknowledge women and the ways in which their professional contribution in Church administration enriches the Catholic Church,” states LCWR president Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP. “Women and Jurisdiction builds on a vision of Church, which emphasizes the call of baptism as that which disposes the faithful to exercise influence and leadership within the Catholic Church.”

 Scholars have been equally impressed with the study. “This important study shows that while scholars have been busy debating whether lay people can exercise jurisdiction in the Church, lay people have been busy exercising jurisdiction,” says John P. Beal, Chair, Department of Canon Law at Catholic University of America. “Women and Jurisdiction provides a much needed look at the extent to which lay people are actually engaged in decision-making processes in the Catholic Church in the United States.”

 Entitled Women and Jurisdiction: An Unfolding Reality – The LCWR Study of Selected Church Leadership Roles, the study was commissioned by LCWR, the national organization that represents over 1,000 elected leaders of U.S. Catholic sisters, to “study the experience of the exercise of jurisdiction (the power of governance) by the non-ordained”. The study task force designed a two-phase study focusing on the experience of women in six roles within the Church: chancellor, tribunal judge, diocesan finance director, director of Catholic Charities, vicar/delegate for religious and pastoral director of a parish as described in Canon 517, paragraph 2.