Ever since the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference issued their recent highly critical report of the advocacy organization NETWORK and the Leadership Conference of Women Religion, the association representing the majority of Catholic women’s orders in the U.S., both women’s organizations have received thousands of letters and phone calls supporting their social justice actions and questioning what individuals and groups can do in support.
NETWORK was founded 40 years ago by Catholic sisters and over the years it has maintained a close relationship with LCWR. It does not, however, have any formal links with the Catholic Church and it is an organization for political advocacy, not a religious organization. NETWORK has been “stunned” by the Vatican's actions. In a nationwide conference call last week, more than 150 persons called in to speak about their support for Catholic Sisters and NETWORK. They wanted to know what they could do.
Here are 11 steps to take to support Catholic Sisters and their witness to the gospel:
2. Stay connected with NETWORK and make your faith voice heard in the public square.
3. Participate in Election 2012: Catholics Vote for the Common Good by signing the National Preamble.
4. Tell the stories about the work Catholic sisters are doing.
6. Use Twitter hashtags #SupportOurSisters and #WhatSistersMeanToMe
7. Write something about NETWORK on the Great Nonprofits website.
8. Write letters-to-the-editor to local newspapers and/or national magazines and respond to articles about the needs of people showing how Catholic women are taking action. Find media contact information HERE.
9. Write to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and express your support for Catholic Sisters (3211 Fourth St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20017) or directly to Archbishop Peter J. Sartain (c/o Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104) who the Vatican has assigned the leadership role as the Archbishop Delegate in the investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
10. Whether you are Catholic or not, you can write to the Catholic bishop in your area—click HERE for addresses.
11. Follow what’s happening at the National Catholic Reporter’s Sisters Under Scrutiny site for the latest news and further action.
During the national conference call, Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, said she took it as a “badge of honor” that NETWORK was singled out for “being on the side of the poor.” On NETWORK’S blog, it states: “We will continue our solidarity as we continue to serve people who are marginalized, and advocate for human dignity and the common good. We do not know what the future holds, but we will not let our voice be silenced.”
Sr. Janet Gottschalk, director of the Alliance for Justice, has been a Medical Mission Sister for 61 years. She lives at N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C.