"Women religious congregations across the country are engaged in difficult conversations about the future," NCR writes in our latest editorial. "While these discussions have gone on for years, in some cases decades, the need to address hard questions on what to do with buildings, institutions and ministries is getting more urgent as the number of women religious in the U.S. continues to dwindle even as new members enter. The stark reality of religious life in transformation means this reckoning can no longer be ignored."
While creating space for the future, some congregations are also reckoning with their past. Congregations such as the Adrian Dominicans, Religious of the Sacred Heart, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the Sisters of Loretto and others are examining their complicity in excluding Blacks from their membership, participating in the enslavement of people and perpetuating systemic racism.
The work of women religious in this space is an enormous contrast with the Napa Institute's most recent conference, during which speakers urged participants to reject the Black Lives Matter movement and critical race theory, developed by African American legal scholars in the 1980s to examine institutional racism throughout society.
"We could ask that the bishops follow the lead of LCWR and undertake a deep review of racism in the U.S. church — but that's been sought before with little to show for it," we write. "What is needed is for moneyed progressive Catholics to counter the influence of the Napa Institute adherents."
Spurred by a historian's address to the 2016 LCWR assembly, many women religious congregations' efforts to eliminate racism are beginning by addressing their own failures.
The Napa Institute hosted its annual conference in which speakers rallied participants to fight the culture wars, reject the Black Lives Matter movement, debunk what they called lies behind gender ideology and defend the church's teachings.
In response to the need to better recognize and celebrate the diversity of the Latino community, a conference designed to help Catholic colleges and universities better serve Latinx students, made an intentional effort to do just that.
Keynote speakers, campus ministers and students shared their various Latino backgrounds, including citizenship status, countries of origin, colors, language capabilities, class status and education level, during the Aug. 3-5 "¡El Futuro Is Here!: Cuentos y Recuerdos for the Journey," hosted by Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.
In her opening remarks, Jeanette Rodríguez, a professor of theology and religious studies and couples and family therapy at Seattle University, commented on the role of "mestizaje" (mixed race) when talking about race and culture.
"As a people, we are made up of any combination of this [mestizaje], that is, you're American, African, Indigenous, Asian, etc.," Rodriguez said. "It's such a beautiful contribution to humanity."
ICYMI: Former Vatican official Cardinal Raymond Burke has tested positive for COVID-19. He did not say whether he had been vaccinated for the virus.
ICYMI: In a decidedly unusual break from protocol, Pope Francis took a cellphone from an aide while standing at center stage in a Vatican auditorium for his weekly Wednesday audience with the public, chatting animatedly for a couple of minutes with whomever was on the other end.
ICYMI: Three First Nations are working with the Archdiocese of Vancouver to look for remains of at least 12 students who attended the former St. Paul's Indian Residential School.