US nuns urged to 'bend their charisms' to serve justice
To survive, US women religious must avoid a "mindless openness to everything" while modifying their specific missions to deal with contemporary problems, especially justice issues, according to the keynote speaker at the annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
While some newer religious groups are expanding, most congregations reached "a peak of cohesive community identity in the 1950s and early 1960s," said Sister Mary Maher, Northeastern provincial leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame last week.
"Since the Second Vatican Council, renewal and diminishment have gone hand-in-hand," said Sister Maher. "Renewal and diminishment have been the two faces of our experience, vying with one another for which will have the last word," she added.
"I believe we are at the critical point which follows a breakdown period where we are faced with the decision between refoundation or death," she said. "As leaders we are challenged to enable our congregations to bend our charisms, our ministerial options, our community life, the fundamental direction of our efforts, in the service of the new justice," she said.
The new justice includes "making the ideals of human dignity, human rights, freedom and equality realizable goals for all peoples," she said. "The world today is fractured by its racial differences, by conflicts among different ethnic groups and nationalities, different lifestyles, orientations and philosophies of life, different cultures and religions," she said.
"The inability to deal with difference except with hostility and violence is destroying families, cultures, societies, indeed the planet itself," she said.
Modifications in religious life must be done while remaining true to "the ancient wisdom of Christianity," she said.
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
23 Aug 2002