Dear God, tomorrow in Vatican City the leadership team from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will meet with Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Peter Sartain at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. God, I know that all of the men and women at this meeting are devoted to your Son and want to serve your church as best they can. As they discuss the future of the LCWR, and of the tens of thousands of generous women religious in the United States, give them the spirit of "mutual understanding" that the Vatican spoke of today. Most of all, pour out your Holy Spirit on them so that they may all discern wisely, listen carefully to one another, and be aware, awake and attentive to the workings of grace. Help them make each decision in a spirit of love, respect and charity. Amen. [my emphasis]What Fr. Martin emphasizes continually is that the people involved in these issues - all the people involved - are people who are endeavouring to serve and love God. They all desire what is best for God's church, even if they have differing visions. To give someone the benefit of the doubt is simply to understand that, first and foremost, these are people made in the image and likeness of God, immensely loved by God, who possess a surpassing value and limitless worth. Simply to dismiss them is not an option, nor is such a dismissal compatible with the development of a well-formed conscience to which the church calls us.
Fr. Martin's call to thoughtful and charitable dialogue as well as to the careful development of conscience needs to be heeded, and I look forward to reading more of his editorials and his books.
Fr. Martin's contributions to a blog on the America website can be seen here.