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Thompson Weighs In on Relations Between US Sisters and the Vatican in Global Sisters Report

April 30, 2024

Global Sisters Report

Margaret Susan Thompson

Margaret Susan Thompson

The apostolic visitation of all women religious in the U.S. and the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious were controversial, with more progressive Catholics seeing them as an attack on women who had dedicated their lives to the church, and more traditional Catholics seeing them as a needed correction for religious who had become too secular.

Both ended nearly a decade ago and sisters say their relationship with officials in Rome is radically different.

"I think both (investigations) were less of a big deal than most American sisters feared they would be when they were initiated, and that is, of course, because of Pope Francis," says Margaret Susan Thompson, associate professor of history and political science. "The whole tenor of the Vatican, in particular toward religious life, changed radically."

Thompson says one of the biggest reasons for the changing relationship is that [Pope] Francis and other key decision-makers were members of religious congregations themselves. "I think that made a big difference," she says. "He was able to understand the complexities of the issues from the inside in a way Benedict and the bishops in the United States were not capable of doing."

Read more in the Global Sisters Report article, "'It's a different time': Relations between US sisters, Vatican have changed radically."

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