Our 50-Year Justice Journey
Pope Paul VI dies, his successor, John Paul I, dies 33 days later. Archbishop Karol Józef Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland is elected Pope and takes the name John Paul II.
Three non-Sisters, Marie (Grosso) Dennis, Barbara Ann Stolz, and Josephine Zamora, are elected to NETWORK’s Board for the first time.
During Pope John Paul II’s visit to the U.S., LCWR president Theresa Kane, RSM asks the Pope to open all church ministries to women in her welcome speech; fifty-three sisters stand in protest during his remarks.
Ronald Reagan elected President. During the eight-year Reagan presidency, NETWORK lobbyists, organizers, and members worked to minimize the deep cuts to human needs programs, increases in military spending, and tax cuts championed by President Reagan. A 1984 poem by NETWORK member Alma Nieland illustrates the NETWORK community’s motivation: “Let me stop the wheels of oppression from grinding so hard as they otherwise would.”
Nancy Sylvester, IHM succeeds Carol Coston, OP as NETWORK’s second leader.
The ERA fails to receive the necessary number of states for ratification.
The Vatican’s 1983 Code of Canon Law takes effect, prohibiting religious men and women from serving in public office, affecting members of NETWORK, including foundress Elizabeth Morancy.
A Difficult Choice
When the Vatican prohibited religious men and women from serving in public office, two NETWORK Board Members were forced to make a painful choice: Elizabeth Morancy, a Rhode Island state Representative, and Arlene Violet, a candidate for Rhode Island State Attorney General. Both resigned from the Sisters of Mercy to serve in those positions. Previously, NETWORK with LCWR and other groups, had issued an Epistle in support of former Mercy Sister Agnes Mary Mansour, who had been forced to choose between her ministry as director of the Michigan Department of Social Services and her community by the Vatican.