Response of LCWR President Sister Constance Phelps, SCL
August 13, 2004
The issue of sexual abuse by members of religious communities is one that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its member congregations take quite seriously. Long before the media began to focus on the issue, many of our communities had already taken steps to respond to survivors of sexual abuse and prevent future cases of abuse. In particular, LCWR members have been working with the Legal Resource Center for Religious (LRCR), of which LCWR is a co-founder. LRCR has been working with our member communities around issues of sexual abuse. LRCR involves survivors of sexual abuse in their presentations and recommends that survivors of sexual abuse are consulted when communities are considering this issue.
Nearly all of our members have indicated a willingness to address this issue with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, focusing on aiding survivors in a manner that is consistent with our mission.
On July 13 SNAP held a press conference and picketed our offices, demanding an opportunity to address our assembly in Fort Worth, Texas which begins on August 19. Despite the vehicle with which they chose to initiate communication with LCWR, our organization’s leadership recognized that it was important to have an opportunity to listen to the concerns, personal stories and ideas offered by SNAP. However, we did not believe that the assembly offered an environment conducive for listening and dialogue.
Instead, we suggested a smaller meeting between SNAP and LCWR leadership. Both groups have agreed to meet on October 3, 2004 in Chicago. We look forward to this opportunity for a productive discussion focused on critical issues relevant to supporting survivors and preventing further sexual abuse.
For further information contact:
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM
LCWR Director of Communications