As  Margaret J. Wheatley so aptly puts it:

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.” (p. 3) Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

And nothing exemplifies it better in recent days than this article from Solidarity with Sisters commenting on the ongoing conversations between the LCWR and the Vatican.

An excerpt.

In its statement after the August 2014 Assembly, LCWR has declared a hope far bigger than for wise resolution of the Vatican’s mandate for LCWR reform. LCWR boldly invites all of us — the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the CDF’s delegate bishops, you and me — to use the mandate as a foothold for grace for the church, for the good of the world.

Ever since the April 2014 meeting between LCWR and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I’ve been waiting to see how LCWR would respond to Cardinal Muller’s dictum that “following the August Assembly, it will be the expectation of the Holy See that Archbishop Sartain have an active role in the discussion about invited speakers and honorees.” To me, this felt like the beginning of the end… whatever the end would be.

With their typical creativity, LCWR has declared hope in the same space where I saw “no exit” signs. They are geniuses at taking one step at a time, with wisdom. They recognized that Cardinal Muller’s single specific instruction was to continue in conversation with Archbishop Sartain, and include discussion of the invited speakers and honorees for the future. So in their statement after the recent Assembly, LCWR affirmed that they will continue in conversation.

But LCWR did much more than simply assent. LCWR declared that the conversation itself is a pivotal act, an act of hope, an act that changes both parties, an act that can be a model within the church: “ongoing conversation with church leadership is key to building effective working relationships that enable both women religious and church leaders to serve the world…. We will continue in the conversation with Archbishop Sartain as an expression of hope that new ways may be created within the church for healthy discussion of differences.”

“Healthy discussion of differences” – amen! What a contrast to the closed processes that led to CDF critiques of LCWR and Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, among recent examples. What a contrast to the CDF’s lack of capacity to ask follow-up questions with genuine, respectful curiosity. Yet “healthy discussion of differences” is consistent with the example that Pope Francis gives, and with his commitment to a culture of encounter within the Church.

Retrieved August 27, 2014 from