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Vatican Asks U.S. Bishops to Help Fund Nuns Probe

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has asked U.S. Catholic bishops to fund a $1.1 million investigation of American nuns ordered by church authorities in Rome.
“We have a projected budget of $1,100,000 for the three years which the total work of the apostolic visitations will require,” Cardinal Franc Rode, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, wrote in a July 14 letter to bishops, first reported by the National Catholic Reporter.
“I am asking you, my brother bishops, for your help in offsetting the expenses which will be incurred by this work for the future of apostolic religious life in the United States,” Rode added.
The Vatican in January announced an “Apostolic Visitation” of U.S. women’s religious orders, the first review of all 400 communities of American women religious, which include a total of 68,000 members.
The investigation was prompted by a steep decline in the number of women entering the Catholic sisterhood in the U.S. Between 1945 and 2000, the number of religious sisters in the U.S. dropped by 54 percent, from 122,159 to 79,876, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which runs a popular yearly fundraiser for retired nuns, learned of the investigation just hours before it was announced on Jan. 30.
The visitation is running parallel to a separate Vatican investigation of the leadership of American women’s religious congregations. That investigation seeks to ensure leaders’ fidelity to Catholic teaching on controversial questions of ecumenism, homosexuality and an all-male priesthood.
The Vatican is also conducting a probe of the Legionaries of Christ, a growing conservative movement in the church, after recent revelations that its late founder fathered at least one illegitimate child, and long-standing accusations that he sexually abused boys and young men under his authority.
By Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • Henrietta22

    This title of article makes the Nuns sound like fugitives. 😉

  • pagansister

    What a total waste of time and energy. Not only does Benny want to make sure the nuns are following orders, he wants the U.S. Bishops to help him pay for it???? The church has enough problems with money thanks to the priests who couldn’t keep their hands off the kids, now he wants them to pay for women who might be thinking for themselves. Benny can sell some of his property and pay for the investigation! Yes, Henrietta, it makes the nuns sound like “bad” people!

  • Tom

    What property do you think “Benny” owns, PS?

  • nnmns

    Doesn’t he have control of the Vatican and a lot of art and who knows what all else there?
    I can maybe understand wanting to know why they are no longer getting cheap female labor. A lot of school systems probably regret their loss there, too. But the investigation into the religious correctness of US nuns seems somehow desperate.

  • pagansister

    Tom, can’t tell me that Benny hasn’t some say over finances in the Vatican. There are many, many valuable things they could sell…The Vatican wants to investigate nuns in the U.S. they should pay for it. All I’m saying. I suspect the American Bishops really don’t care what happens in the convents.

  • jestrfyl

    Gee – does anyone think that the huge drop in enrollment might have anything to do with the diminished stature of women in the RCC? Could it have anything to do with the rise of women as ordained pastors in other denominations? I get the feeling they will be looking at the trees and neglecting to take in the view of the whole forest.
    I can’t imagine they will need to spend 3 MILLION dollars to learn what is happening. Or could it be that someone – like many other politicians – wants to justify an around the country junket.

  • babs

    Well, after all, if the U.S. Bishops had been doing their job the nuns would have never left the Faith & set up their oun church.

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