The nun who sounded the one discordant note during the papal visit here by turning her welcome of Pope John Paul II into a challenge of the church's attitudes toward women appears to be headed for a special audience with the pope soon.
With the blessing of the ecclesiastical chain of command stretching from here to the Vatican, Sister Teresa Kane said yesterday she is confident that the interview she had sought during the papal visit here last month will be granted "in the near future." Her request for an audience with the pontiff has been approved by the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in this country, Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco; the Vatican's personal representative to the United States, Archbishop Jean Jadot, and the head of the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, which regulates religious orders of women and men, Cardinal Eduardo Pironio.
Kane, who heads the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the official umbrella organization of orders of nuns in this country, touched off a controversy in the Roman Catholic church by her introduction of the pope during his meeting with several thousand nuns at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last month.
On that occasion, she urged the pope to consider the 'pain" she said Catholic women suffer because they are barred from full participation in the church's ministries, including the priesthood.
Last week, Kane and three other officers of the leadership conference were at the Vatican to make their report to the Sacred Congregation. Dates for the meeting were set well before the papal visit here.
Sister Mary Dooley, immediate past president of the leadership conference, called the meeting with Cardinal Pironio last week "most gratifying."
She said that Pironio offered no criticism of Kane's comments here. "He only asked, was there another channel through which (Kane) might have raised that topic," Dooley said.
"We explained the background out of which she spoke," Dooley said. The women requested an interview with the pope during his American visit but received no response. Dooley explained that Kane made her decision "after prayer, reflection, out of our experience, out of fidelity to the church, out of fidelity to the truth."
Dooley said Pironio had not talked with the Pontiff since his return from the American trip and therefore said he did not know the pontiff's reaction to Kane's remarks. She said the pope himself was tied up with a meeting of the world's cardinals during the time the women were in Rome, and there was no opportunity to meet with him.
Because of their offices in the leadership conference, Dooley and Kane are official observers at the semi-annual meeting here of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Many of the bishops appear to be going out of their way to greet Kane during coffee breaks and between sessions. Dooley said they had experienced "nothing but cordiality from the bishops."