‘Listen to the heart of our people,’ Sr. Teresa Maya tells US bishops

by Soli Salgado

A lesson for U.S. bishops lies in an oak tree in San Antonio — one with a healthy exterior but a rotten core unable to sustain its own branches, a core that will cause the slow death of an otherwise beautiful tree.

Contemplating the connection between this tree and the church, Sr. Teresa Maya, past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, offered this cautionary image to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, whom she addressed on the first day of their Nov. 12-14 general assembly in Baltimore. The bishops convened amid a resurgence of the sex abuse crisis, with the issue front and center at the annual gathering.

Maya, a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, told the bishops that she accepted their “courageous invitation” to speak at their general assembly out of her “deep love of our church.”

But she zeroed in on her love for “those who have been hurt by our church, who clamor for a listening heart and our courage to own the truth.”

“I am here for all of them. Because, brother bishops, this church, this faithful people, holds so much pain, so many questions, so much grief. For months, I personally have found the words of the creed — one, holy, catholic, apostolic — painful to pronounce. I confess I was even tempted to mount my personal boycott by remaining silent for that part, until something concrete happened. Then I realized: This was my church. And wondered what was mine to do.”