Vatican Orders Review of Women's Religious Orders
Source: The Associated Press
02/02/2009 10:20 am
The Vatican has begun a first-ever comprehensive study of women's religious orders in the United States, four decades into a steep decline in the number of Roman Catholic sisters and nuns in the country.
The study, ordered by a Vatican congregation in December and announced Friday in Washington, will examine ''the quality of the life'' of 59,000 members in more than 400 Catholic women's religious institutes, said Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, a spokeswoman for the study, which is called an apostolic visitation.
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Wow! An "apostolic visitation!" That sounds serious. But 40 years later? Seems like the Vatican has been like Little Boy Blue who failed to blow his horn even though the sheep were in the meadow and the cows were in the corn. Have the Holy Fathers been under the haycock fast asleep? Or do they just not give a damn about the women in their midst. Personal opinion, I think they have been too busy trying to make it OK for priests to rape and pillage their flocks even as they rape the sons and daughters and wives of the faithful. Just my humble opinion.
"The study is really to encourage the communities, to strengthen them, to help them grow in their vitality,'' she said, adding that ''women's religious communities have played such a significant part in building up the church and society in this country.''
I think the "Holy" Fathers are simply worried about losing their second class citizen maid servants and "girl fridays." Again, just my humble opinion.
The Vatican released results of a similar canvass of U.S. seminaries earlier this month in light of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. That review gave special attention to chastity and celibacy, and the Vatican found seminaries had largely been successful in rooting out ''homosexual behavior.''
Or maybe they just changed their seminarian's public sexual orientation for the duration of their seminary careers. Once more, just my humble opinion.
The reasoning behind the Vatican's focus on women's religious orders is less clear. A Web site on the visitation said the church wanted ''to safeguard and promote consecrated life in the United States.''
It also said ''many new congregations have emerged in the United States, while many others have decreased in membership or have an increased median age.''
The number of Catholic sisters in the U.S. declined from 173,865 in 1965 to 79,876 in 2000, according to Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. The average age of a member of a women's religious community was between 65 and 70 in 1999, the center says
''The numbers tell you everything one needs to know why they're undertaking an effort like this,'' said Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who called the church's interest ''very late in the game.''
''For many of these communities, the handwriting is on the wall. They're disappearing,'' he said..
Ah,now we get to the nub. I wonder if this has anything to do with the RCCs total lack of respect for the women in both their "orders" and their congregations? Do you suppose? Poor, stupid, irresponsible little women need to be "protected and directed" by the "Holy Fathers" whose total life experience as an adult is frequently being subservient to their "betters" until they achieve the status of being one of the "betters," served hand and mouth by the women in their congregations and "orders." Never actually having to earn a living but being totally supported by the church so long as they are "good little boys" and follow the orders of their "betters." Cast out of that environment, most of these "good little boys" would have a difficult time making a living, and the older one gets and the higher into the ranks one goes, the tougher it becomes to "speak truth to athority." Don't get me wrong. I know that being a true servant to their flocks for the priests and pastors who are those true servants, is as difficult as being a fine teacher or a good parent. But in my humble opinion these are few and far between. Most of the "good little boys" having become martinets totally devoted to maintaining their status quo and advancing in the ranks.
Historically, Catholic sisters concentrated on teaching and health care. Since the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, many sisters have become activists of social causes ranging from protesting nuclear weapons to marching with migrant farmworkers. Some also advocate for women to be ordained as priests or challenge church teaching against abortion rights or gay marriage.
In recent years, newly formed traditional orders -- whose members dress in habits, show fidelity to Rome and focus on education, health care and social work -- have reported growth. More established orders that tend to take more progressive social stances have seen their members' ages and numbers of vocations dwindle.
''The Vatican may be asking the question, 'Why is this happening, and is there something these more traditional orders offer that the more progressive orders can learn from?''' said the Rev. Jim Martin, editor of the Jesuit magazine America.
As the young people around me say when they hear a particularly stupid remark, "Well, DUH!!!" Sure, they could learn how wonderful it is to be obedient to "good little boys" after the sisters have learned a little or a lot about life in the real world. Who, may I ask, wants to "learn" that?!!
Well, I won't bore you who have read this far with anymore of my rant. But as for me, I am amazed that the RCC has any self respecting female members in their congregations or "orders." I could understand if girls were once again being told "to get thine self to a nunnary!" But girls and women today have a choice. And few that are intelligent and mature women make these choices, just as few mature and intelligent young men choose to go into the priesthood or... wait for it, wait for it, a... "monkery!" :-))