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Vatican inquiry on US women religious concludes on-site visits

March 10, 2011

The apostolic visitation into the life of women’s religious orders in the US has concluded a new phase, wrapping up on-site visits to religious orders.

Mother Mary Clare Millea, who is conducting the apostolic visitation on behalf of the Congregation for Religious, met last weekend with the 58 people who had carried out the on-site visits, and encouraged them to share their personal insights as well as more formal reports. Mother Millea is preparing a full report on the life of women’s religious orders in the US, to be submitted to the Vatican by the end of 2011.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, the American-born secretary of the Congregation for Religious, attended the 3-day meeting that concluded this phase of the inquiry. Mother Millea said that the archbishop “expressed the continued support of the Congregation” for the “ongoing revitalization of religious life in the United States.”

The apostolic visitation has been dogged by controversy since its outset. Some prominent American nuns strongly objected to the Vatican inquiry, in some cases refusing to cooperate with the investigation, because they feared a Vatican crackdown on women’s religious orders. Defenders of the apostolic visitation have pointed to the steep decline in membership of traditional religious orders as clear evidence that some reform is necessary. But when he was appointed as secretary of the Congregation for Religious last year, Archbishop Tobin said that women religious should have nothing to fear from the Vatican inquiry.


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  • Posted by: tonydecker513018861 - Mar. 11, 2011 1:02 AM ET USA

    They should have nothing to fear from the Vatican inquiry because they should have nothing to fear from the Vatican, but we all know they do.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Mar. 10, 2011 5:20 PM ET USA

    I think this whole inquiry of womens' religious orders will wind up being a joke. Heterodox orders are not going to change their ways and the Vatican is powerless to do anything about it. It's been another exercise in futility.