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Vatican Report on US Nuns – Feared as Witch Hunt – Is Mild

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 12:04 PM

Six years in the making, the Vatican's report on U.S. nuns was released Tuesday and seemed to pull its punches, soothing fears that Rome's investigation was a witch hunt against the women's religious orders.

"Sorry, folks, this is not a controversial document," Mother M. Clare Millea, an American nun who directed the investigation, told The New York Times. Instead, it turned out to be a report on the state of nunhood across America.

The investigation was originally launched by Pope Benedict XVI, who gave little explanation for it. Officially known as an Apostolic Visitation, the measure is usually reserved for investigating serious problems and scandals, so its announcement was met with resistance and distrust from many of America's roughly 50,000 nuns, which comprise 341 religious orders.

During the investigation, the orders were sent questionnaires about their numbers, prayer schedules, living arrangements, financial assets, and property. 90 communities were visited by investigators, with various levels of compliance and resistance. Some orders, for instance, did not disclose all the information asked of them — perhaps fearing appropriation of their assets.

During the six years of the investigation, Cardinal Rodé said he was concerned about "a certain secular mentality that has spread in these religious families and, perhaps, also a certain feminist spirit," leading many nuns to believe they would be persecuted for not teaching against abortion, homosexuality, and other politically explosive issues.

Those fears may not have been entirely unfounded, as the mostly positive report did recommend that nuns "should carefully review their spiritual practices and ministry to assure that these are in harmony with Catholic teaching."

Reuters reported that the report illuminated a numbers challenge for America's nuns going forward, as their numbers have declined by more than half since their peak in the 1960s, when they were 125,000 strong. The average age of nuns has at the same time increased to 70.

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Six years in the making, the Vatican's report on U.S. nuns was released Tuesday and seemed to pull its punches, soothing fears that Rome's investigation was a witch hunt against the women's religious orders.
vatican, report, us, nuns
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2014-04-16
Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 12:04 PM
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