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Influential nun calls for 'non-violent resistance' against Vatican apostolic visitation March 04, 2009

An influential American nun has called for "non-violent resistance" against a Vatican investigation of women's religious orders. In an email message to colleagues that has now been published by the National Catholic Reporter, Sister Sandra Schneiders, who teaches at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, says that the apostolic visitation recently announced by the Vatican will be "aggressive and dishonest." She acknowledges that American religious orders cannot prevent the Vatican inquiry. However, she recommends:

But we can receive them, politely and kindly, for what they are, uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house. When people ask questions they shouldn't ask, the questions should be answered accordingly.

Sister Schneiders, a members of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, argues that most women's religious orders have found an entirely new way of living their vocations since Vatican II. "So, let's be what we are," she writes: "Religious who are not cloistered and ministers who are not ordained." She rejects criticism that was aired last year at a seminar held at Stonehill College, at which Cardinal Franc Rodé-- the prefect of the Congregation for Religious-- warned that some orders seemed to "have simply acquiesced to the disappearance of religious life or at least of their communities." That conference, Sister Schneiders said, was "a pep rally for those convinced they are right and can only be right if people not like them are wrong."