U.S. nuns under Vatican investigation

Nuns fear push back into convents, religious garb

As more American nuns adopt a modern lifestyle—leaving convents to live independently, opting for non-religious garb, or embracing new forms of work like academia—they now find themselves under scrutiny from the Vatican, the New York Times reports. While some are glad the Vatican is paying attention (the number of U.S. nuns has dropped from 180,000 in 1965, to 60,000 today), others worry it’s an attempt to draw them back in to a more traditional religious lifestyle. Of the two investigations being conducted, the more extensive is what’s known as an Apostolic Visitation, which is usually ordered after a church institution has gone seriously astray—following the priest sex abuse scandal, for example. In this instance, it has the declared purpose of looking “into the quality of the life” of women’s religious institutes, and will include questionnaires and visits to specific congregations. The investigation was ordered by Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican office that deals with religious orders. Speaking in Massachusetts last year, Cardinal Rodé criticized U.S. nuns “who have opted for ways that take them outside” the church. Considering this, Sister Sandra M. Schneiders, professor emerita of New Testament and spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, in California, is urging nuns not to cooperate, and emphasizes that investigators should be treated as “uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house.”

The New York Times

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