He noted that Francis' first appointment to the Vatican bureaucracy was that of the Rev. Jose Rodriguez Carballo as the No. 2 in the Vatican's congregation for religious orders. Rodriguez Carballo had been superior of the Friars Minor branch of the Franciscan order that was founded by the pope's namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who devoted himself to helping the poor.
Martin said it would have been unusual for Francis to undo a process that has been years in the works and that as a Jesuit he is "naturally going to be sympathetic" to the challenges faced by members of religious orders, such as those represented by the nuns' conference.
As part of its imposed reforms, the Vatican appointed Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and two other bishops to oversee a rewriting of the conference's statutes, to review its plans and programs, approve speakers and ensure the group properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual.
The conference represents about 57,000 sisters, or 80 percent of U.S. nuns. It has argued that the Vatican reached "flawed" conclusions based on "unsubstantiated accusations." The group's officers have said they would participate in discussions with Sartain "as long as possible" but vowed they would not compromise their group's mission.