WASHINGTON (CNS) — The way 900 women religious “went about the decision” of responding to the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of their organization was almost as “historic and important as the decision itself,” said Dominican Sister Mary Hughes, a former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Hughes, addressing an Aug. 16 luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, said that although the sisters devoted a significant amount of time to the assessment during their Aug. 7-10 meeting in St. Louis, they did not have “fiery speeches” or discourse but instead primarily engaged in contemplative silence, listening and prayer. At the close of the four-day assembly, LCWR leaders, speaking on behalf of the entire group, said they would pursue “open and honest dialogue” with church officials about the assessment by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The assessment, issued April 18, said a reform of LCWR was needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, charged with overseeing the group’s reform, met with LCWR’s national board Aug. 11. He said in a statement after the meeting that he is “truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising church teaching or the important role of the LCWR.” The sisters’ decision to seek dialogue could be their “gift to the church,” said Sister Hughes, stressing the importance of listening to one another, which she said is so often missing in today’s polarized society.