Saturday, November 28, 2009

Religious Visitation & Resistance

It appears that the very reason many feel the Vatican ordered an inquiry into American congregations of women religious—that many of the orders have been in an active position of dissent against the Church, especially the papacy, for years—is being validated in the orders response to the inquiry, as reported by National Catholic Reporter.

An earlier post looks at the dissenting faction within the American Church from which the dissenting orders draw support.

The Church is blessed that many of the newer orders, retaining full habit, are deeply orthodox and growing strongly. while the dissenting orders continue their decline.

An excerpt from the article in the National Catholic Reporter.

“The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions.

"There's been almost universal resistance," said one women religious familiar with the responses compiled by the congregation leaders. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity."

“The deadline for the questionnaires to be filled out and returned to the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitator, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Mary Clare Millea, was Nov. 20. On that day, according to an informed source, congregation leaders across the nation sent Millea letters and, in many cases, only partial answers to the questionnaire. Many women, instead of filling out the forms, replied by sending in copies of their Vatican -approved orders' religious constitutions. A religious order's constitution states its rationale, purpose and mission.

“The Vatican initiated the study in January, saying its purpose is to determine the quality of life in religious communities, given the decline in vocations in recent decades. From the outset, the women have complained they were never consulted before Vatican officials announced the investigation and there is no transparency in the process. Some have called the effort demeaning and intrusive.

“The decisions by congregation leaders not to comply follow nearly two months of intensive discussions both inside and across religious congregations. They follow consultations with civil and canon lawyers, and come in the wake of what some women religious see as widespread support by laity for their church missions.”