FORT WORTH, August 23, 2004 ( – A speaker at the conference meeting of U.S. Catholic religious orders, meeting August 21 at the Forth Worth Convention Center, sent a message of defiance to American bishops and the Vatican. The theme of the conference was “No Longer Bystanders: Creating Peace in Violent Times”.  The heads of religious orders belonged to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM). CMSM represents 20,000 priests and brothers belonging to male religious orders, and LCWR represents 74,000 Catholic nuns in the United States.  Participants in one of ten workshops brainstormed about the numerous forms of violence and ways that they should be countered. The workshop took aim at the Pope and bishops, using violence rhetoric to describe the Catholic Church’s policies. The Rev. Michael Crosby of Milwaukee bemoaned what he called “the controlling power of the clergy” and called the Church’s unwillingness to compromise its doctrine a “sinful, structural and systemic violence.” Among the instances of violence cited by participants was the movement by bishops to refuse Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians and their supporters.  The Vatican has approved an alternative group to represent religious congregations; the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (see was established at the request of orders that were deeply concerned at the direction taken by LCWR.  jmo