LCWR

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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Update (July 2002)

LCWR Executive Makes Annual Visit to Rome

The LCWR delegation – President Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP, Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM; Past-President Mary Mollison, CSA and Executive Director Carole Shinnick, SSND  -  and the CMSM Executive Committee was in Rome, April 28  - May 4, 2002 for the annual visitation to Vatican Congregations and Councils.  For the past eleven years, LCWR and CMSM officers have made a joint annual visit to Rome to present an overview of women's and men’s religious life from the perspective of each conference in the U.S. 

During the week, the following Vatican offices were visited by LCWR and CMSM:  Pontifical Council on Healthcare Workers; Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace; Pontifical Council on Inter-religious Dialog and the Congregation for Education. In the case of certain congregations, it was more appropriate that LCWR and CMSM attend meetings separately.

“In each congregation, we framed our report with the two key realities impacting religious life in the U.S. since our last visit – the events of September 11 and the crisis in the American Church because of widespread allegations of clerical abuse,” recalls LCWR Executive Director Carole Shinnick, SSND, in reflecting on the Rome Visitation. "Officials in all offices listened attentively and compassionately to our reports.  We were always graciously received.”

On Thursday, May 2, the delegations from CMSM and LCWR had a meeting with the joint executive committees of the Union of Superiors General (USG – men) and the  International Union of Superiors General (UISG – women).  Terming the meeting “successful,” Carole Shinnick added, “The conversation was informative and lively, focusing on mutual concerns of religious around the world.”

On May 3, the LCWR delegation met with members of Rome-based General Councils with congregational members in the U.S.  The delegates summarized the Rome visits, and updated the attendees on situations impacting religious life in the U.S.

“The LCWR visits to the Roman congregations are a significant way in which the aspect of the conference mission of, 'fostering dialogue and collaboration among religious congregations within the Church and in the larger society' is enacted,” noted the LCWR Executive Director. “Each year, despite jet lag and sore feet, the LCWR delegates agree, 'It was worth the trip!'”

LCWR Observers Present at USCCB Dallas Meeting

Ed.'s Note: LCWR Executive Director Carole Shinnick, SSND, reflects below on the experience of the recent bishops' meeting in Dallas.

Twice a year the three members of the LCWR Presidency and the Executive Director participate as observers at the meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  However, the meeting in Dallas from June 13-16, 2002, was a most extraordinary event, and the LCWR observers felt that they were truly at an historic moment.  One indicator of the unusual nature of this meeting was found in the number of media accreditations. Usually, the USCCB provides 30 press passes for meetings.  This year, 750 passes were issued.

The opening day was very powerful.  Bishop Wilton Gregory’s presidential address clearly named all the elements that had brought the American Church to a critical state, called the assembly to act unmistakably to protect all children, and apologized profoundly to all who had been hurt in any way by representatives of the Church who abused children.

Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, editor-in-chief of Commonweal, addressed the bishops from the point of view of laypersons, scholars, and “the person-in-the-pew.”  Four survivor-victims of clerical sexual abuse shared from personal experience, the impact of sexual abuse on their lives.  And Dr. Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, a psychotherapist addressed the same topic from a clinical viewpoint.  The text of all of the presentations is available on http://www.usccb.org, the website of the Bishops’ Conference.

Charges Filed Against SOA Activists

Charges have been filed against 43 SOA Watch activists out of the 10,000 who gathered at Fort Benning in November 2001 to call for the closure of the School of the Americas/ Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The 43 nonviolent protesters face up to six  
months in federal prison and $5,000 in fines. A trial date has been set for July 8, 2002,  in Columbus, GA. For more information, visit www.soaw.org.

Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem Sends Thank You to CMSM-LCWR

In a letter received last month at the CMSM-LCWR national offices, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah expressed his appreciation for CMSM-LCWR’s “solidarity during the hard times we lived these past days.” He made particular reference to a CMSM-LCWR letter to President Bush from Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP, and Canice Connors, OFMConv, regarding peace in the Middle East.  He noted that “military incursions and human hardships for the population are continuing….We pray and hope that the Lord might open the hearts and intelligence of leaders, Israelis and Palestinians, and the international community, so that they decide to take the true path of peace, for the good of the two peoples, Palestinian and Israel."

2002 LCWR Assembly Materials Available on Website

With the recent postal rate increase, LCWR has decided to make pre-Assembly materials such as the LCWR nomination and election candidates and the proposed 2002 Assembly resolutions available to members on the LCWR website, www.lcwr.org. This decision will eliminate the need to mail out paper copies of these documents, and is in keeping with LCWR’s efforts to be both ecologically and fiscally responsible in the use of our resources. If any member does not have access to the web site, please contact the office at 301-588-4955 for a copy.

The election materials may be found by clicking at the top of the home page on “Assembly Information” then follow the link to “LCWR Nomination and Election Candidates." The Assembly resolutions will be on the website shortly.

Global Concerns Committee Reflects On Interconnectedness of Creation

The Global Concerns Committee met May 24-26, 2002, in Newport, RI.  The group reflected on the interconnectedness of all creation as a lens through which to view their work. They revised the 2002 Assembly resolution on peace in response to regional feedback, prepared a process for Assembly participants to share with one another their actions regarding welfare legislation, planned future issues of Resolutions to Action, and worked on current projects. In November they will meet in Brownsville, TX, giving special attention to immigration issues.

Incoming members Barbara Moore, CSJ, and Peggy Nolan, BVM, joined the current members Mary Brigid Clingman, OP; Marie Cooper, SJC; Shalini D’Souza, SCN; Toni Harris, OP; Maria Elena Martinez, OSF; Aline Marie Steuer, CSC; and Judy Cannon, RSM (staff).

Assembly Resolutions Updates

Ed.'s Note: At each LCWR Assembly, members endorse resolutions that help direct the work of LCWR. As we prepare for the 2002 Assembly, the following articles provide updates on issues that were adopted as LCWR Assembly resolutions in recent years.

1997 Assembly Resolution on CEDAW 

The first official governmental action regarding LCWR’s 1997 Assembly resolution to promote the U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) took place June 13, 2002, with a hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. As a treaty, CEDAW requires Senate approval. The committee had approved it in 1994 but it was not brought tothe full Senate at that time. To date 169 countries have ratified it, and the U.S. is the only democratic industrialized nation that has not ratified.

At the hearing supporters described the convention as an affirmation of women’s rights as human rights. Women throughout the world can use it to seek to own or inherit property, establish credit, overcome poverty, improve healthcare, and protect themselves against violence. U.S. ratification would not require legal changes, as the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws already comply.

Some opponents expressed concern that the Convention might be used to promote abortion; however, it does not mention abortion, and in 1994 the Committee on Foreign Relations stated that nothing in the treaty shall be construed as creating any right to an abortion. 

The next step is a vote in the Foreign Relations Committee. 
  
  

Days Of Contemplation 2002  
Monthly Reflection:  
Constance Phelps, SCL

The wise tell us that God abides  
in silence— 
that God speaks in the silent serenity 
of the heart. 
Let us not speak of silence;  
rather, let silence speak to us  
of God.

Together, 
let us enter,  
through the door of serenity, 
the silence of our heart.

(adapted from the Benedictine Foundation of the 
 State of Vermont, Inc)


2001 Joint Assembly Resolution on Immigration

In May Congress restored eligibility for food stamps to legal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. at least five years, as well as immigrant children and disabled people regardless of when they arrived. President Bush signed the provision into law in the nutrition section of the farm bill. CMSM and LCWR members called for the restoration of food stamps in their 2001 Joint Assembly Resolution on immigration.

Regarding another section of the Assembly Resolution, 70 Mexican migrants died attempting to enter the U.S. in the first 14 weeks of 2002, according to a Mexico City newspaper. Most drowned in the Rio Grande river or dehydrated in the U.S. desert. U.S. officials announced that at least 14 migrants died in scorching heat while crossing southwest of Tucson June 5-10, 2002. Though immigration policy has become stricter since September 11, the flow of migrants seeking work to support their families has not decreased. Increased U.S. vigilance at legal crossings prompts many to try illegal paths of entry, often with fatal results.

2001 Joint Assembly Resolution on Human Trafficking

Three organizations with web sites offer information to LCWR members for implementation of the 2001 Joint Assembly resolution on trafficking.

(1) On June 7 the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the Congressional Children’s Caucus held a briefing on trafficking in children. Discussion included the State Department’s 2002 report to Congress assessing actions to address the problem in 89 countries. This report is available on the web site www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2002/.

(2) Anti-Slavery, a group based in London, is circulating a petition to all governments of the world to make combating trafficking a priority. To sign on, visit the web site www.antislavery.org and click on “Take action.” The site includes a very moving photo gallery.

(3) The Protection Project, a legal human rights research institute based at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, documents and disseminates information about trafficking worldwide, with a focus on law and foreign policy. Visit www.protectionproject.org. The site includes video clips.

LCWR Invites Members to Endorse The Earth Charter

In August 2002, LCWR Assembly participants will vote on a resolution on peace, which has endorsement of the Earth Charter as one of its specific actions. Congregations of religious are invited to endorse the Charter before the Assembly. We recognize the leadership role that several congregations are already exercising in educating their members and others about the Charter.

The Earth Charter is an international document affirming that humanity’s environmental, economic, social, cultural, ethical and spiritual lives are all interconnected. A global consultation process, concluded in 1999, preceded the circulation of the Charter as a “peoples’ treaty” promoting the values necessary to create a sustainable future. Signatures will be brought to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, August 26 - September 4, 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The summit will be a gathering of governments, UN agencies, multilateral financial institutions and NGOs to assess global change since the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

To read and endorse the Charter, visit the web site at www.earthcharter.org. For background information about the U.S. campaign visit www.earthcharterusa.org.

Special Report: Beijing +7 - Promises and Realities

Ed.’s Notes:  In this 2-part article for UPDATE, Mary Turgi, CSC, outlines the progress of women's issues in the U.S. seven years since the historic U.N. meeting for women in Beijing.

In September 1995, even as the world’s governments endorsed the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) with great fanfare, women’s organizations were calling for “concrete commitments” “mobilization of resources” “time-bound targets” and “accountability mechanisms.”  The BPFA contained the words, but activists knew that words alone would not guarantee women’s advancement.  Almost seven years later, how are women faring?  How faithful have governments been to their promises?  In this article, we give a brief assessment of the progress of women in the United States since Beijing; in a sequel, we will evaluate women’s progress globally.

The U.S. government’s implementation of the BPFA has been uneven at best.  The 2000 report Women’s Equality: an Unfinished Agenda, prepared by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), indicates that the U.S. response has been piecemeal, incremental, and inconsistent.  Although the Clinton administration made groundbreaking advances in the area of violence against women with passage of the Violence Against Women Act, increased funding for domestic violence victims, and establishment of the Violence Against Women Office within the Justice Department, other Clinton policies at home and abroad actually exacerbated women’s problems.  For example, changes in federal welfare programs reduced resources available to women and children, weakened/eliminated safety nets, and forced women to work in low-paying, insecure jobs.  At the same time, Clinton’s persistent pursuit of “free trade” policies undermined lower-income women’s job security and earning levels.  Predictably, the Bush administration has continued these detrimental “neoliberal” economic policies.

The WEDO report (available at www.wedo.org) identifies several other dramatic U.S. shortfalls:

• Although women make up 52 percent of the U.S. population and the majority of voters, they are still disproportionately underrepresented in decision-making bodies in all public arenas.  In terms of women in government, the U.S. ranks 42nd worldwide. 
• As a nation, the U.S. has failed to make children a priority – a fact evidenced by the government’s refusal to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In particular, this country has failed to provide adequate support and funding to improve the status of girls.  Issues of concern include affordable healthcare, gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive educational materials, leadership development, and skill-building experiences for girls. 
• The U.S. is the only industrialized nation, and one of only a handful of nations in the world, that still refuses to ratify the U.N.’s 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  [There is, however, renewed hope that the Convention will finally be ratified when it comes before the Senate in 2002, www.womenstreaty.org.]

After the Beijing Conference, the body officially charged with promoting U.S. women’s advancement was the President’s Interagency Council on Women.  That Council, which always suffered from inadequate staffing and limited resources, was disbanded by the Bush administration, leaving women’s organizations with little formal access to government.

One organization that continues to focus on Beijing follow-up is U.S. Women Connect, who are working to develop a “report card” that could be used by states and municipalities nationwide.  Information about the report card campaign and the group’s other projects can be found at www.uswc.org. 

For Your Information 

The Gannon Center for Women and Leadership invites applications for its newly formalized Visiting Scholar Program.  The Gannon Center for Women and Leadership is composed of Women and Leadership Archives, the Women’s Studies Program, the Institute for Women and Leadership and a heritage space honoring the former Mundelein College, a small, liberal arts women’s college that affiliated with Loyola in 1991.   The Visiting Scholar is awarded an office within the lakeside center, a computer and Internet access, and library privileges. For more information, contact the center at: Telephone: 773 508 8430; Fax: 773 508 8492; Email:  gannoncenter@luc.edu:  Website: luc.edu/orgs/gannon.

The Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace has written a new resource for communal reflection, “Casting Light on A Pathway to Peace:The War on Terrorism.” It provides information, faith reflection and critical questions to facilitate the advancement of justice in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace is a coalition of 43 congregations of men and women religious. To order the 30-page booklet, $4, write ICJP, 20 Washington Square North, New York, NY, 10011, phone 212-475-6677. Do not send payment; they will invoice you

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