2013-05-06 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) The need for improved relationships and a rebuilding of trust in the Church is the message that’s been emerging from a meeting of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, which opened here in Rome last Friday. The five day meeting brings together some 800 leaders of women’s religious communities worldwide and is focused on the theme ‘The service of leadership according to the Gospel”.
In a discussion session on Sunday with the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz spoke of recent tensions with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States, saying there’s need for a wide-ranging review of structures of power within the Catholic Church.
The UISG was established in 1965, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, to promote deeper collaboration between female religious congregations. Its current president is Sr Mary Lou Wirtz who talked with Philippa Hitchen on the opening day of the plenary assembly:
“Ever since Vatican II, the understanding of obedience and authority has taken on new nuances or concepts….so I think it’s important for us to look at what does Gospel leadership mean today….
As our Holy Father Pope Francis has said recently, power has to do with service to others, it’s not power for power’s sake…yes, we’re very hopeful that we will have more open dialogue in the future….
I think the LCWR are really using an approach of prayer and reflection, trying to open this channel of understanding from both sides….I think there are religious in other parts of the world who are watching to see how it will unfold…
I think women religious in the Church have been for centuries in the forefront of where the people are in need….and in many parts of the world have been initiators of the Church’s presence….
I think in some circles it’s been recognized, but I think from the circles within the Vatican we don’t hear that recognition….whether they believe or feel it’s there…but to hear and have it recognized is where it’s been lacking….but even if we’re not hearing it…. we continue our mission.”