Sisters object to secrets of Vatican probe

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has issued a statement [.PDF] objecting to the fact that church authorities will not disclose who has funded a Vatican investigation of women religious in the United States.Comments the apostolic visitator, Mother Mary Clare Millea, made to Catholic News Service on July 31 raised many more questions than they answered:

Mother Clare ... declined to discuss specifics related to the study's cost, including how it is being financed. She said, however, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not funding the effort."Anyone who has contributed has not wanted their name to be publicized," she said. ... "We are welcoming the support of individual dioceses, individuals or groups who would be willing to help defray the expenses."

Nor would Mother Clare identify the bishops and others who developed the questions submitted to the religious orders. "We feel it's prudent to let them remain anonymous," CNS quoted her as saying.But actually, it would be prudent to have reasonable disclosure. The larger issue lurking here is the extent to which major donors wield outsized influence in the Catholic Church. That is a story that would really take off with the right opening.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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