Monasteries of the Heart

Old Monk's Journal: Journal Entry 29

“We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see the world is rotten because of silence,” wrote St. Catherine of Siena. This a quote that Old Monk is meditating on as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious gathers for its annual assembly in Nashville, TN, Aug. 12-16.

Silence in the face of injustice is a crime, a sin, a heinous act that has been used by Church authorities over the centuries to kill questions and new ideas and to punish those who dare ask them.

So it broke Old Monk’s heart to read this sentence by Tom Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, in a commentary he wrote on the upcoming LCWR assembly. “A group (LCWR) that once prided itself on fearless leadership and modeling transparency is now more media restrictive than most other Catholic organizations, including the U.S. bishops.”

It is this kind of intimidation and fear that church authorities count on. Keep the abuse secret. Keep it behind closed doors.

Here is Old Monk’s prayer and plea, then, for the LCWR:

Dearest Sisters, you have done nothing wrong. It is your obligation as religious to ask the questions that need to be voiced. It is the holy responsibility of religious to stand with those who are most bereft. Be proud of the questions you have asked, the speakers you invited to your assemblies, the statements you issued, the liturgies you celebrated. Go to the microphone and say: We believe in feminist theology and in women’s ordination; we believe in the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender population and we will continue to speak aloud on these issues. Respectfully, we will not comply with the order to submit names of speakers to our annual assembly to Vatican representatives for approval. If this means that the LCWR is no longer recognized by church authorities, so be it. Though we have given our lives to the church, we have not given our consciences to anyone but God. Though we recognize the legitimacy of church law, we believe it sometimes conflicts with the Gospel. And our hearts—since we were young women--have been afire with the radical message and life of Jesus of Nazareth. To act otherwise would barter our integrity. As members of LCWR, we stand with our sister, Catherine of Siena in reminding the faithful, “We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

To read more by Joan Chittister and sign a petitions, click here.

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A blog by Mary Lou Kownacki
A personal journal captures what’s in the heart. Most of my adult life I’ve recorded my notes, brief reflections, poems, reactions to daily events in a journal. It is an ongoing source of monastic formation; the rich and raw material of life that helps shape my Monastery of the Heart. About a year ago, Old Monk began to appear on my journal’s pages. Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, is the Monasteries of the Heart coordinator.

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