The controversial investigations of U.S. women religious by the Vatican — and resulting tensions — stemmed largely from a "cultural chasm," the group's president said Wednesday.
But that chasm is closing, she said, and a new era of communion seems to have begun.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, told the group's annual assembly that behavior that is very normal for a woman in American culture -- such as asking questions and thinking critically -- might easily be perceived as disrespectful in another setting.
Holland understands one of those settings well: She spent 21 years as a canon lawyer in Rome, where she was one of the highest-ranking women in the Vatican. Now vice president of her community in Monroe, Michigan, and in her final days as president of LCWR, Holland gave the presidential address Wednesday morning to the approximately 800 LCWR members gathered here in Houston. The organization is made up of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States; communities in LCWR represent about 80 percent of the nearly 50,000 women religious in the United States.