Catholic World News

Vatican cardinal responds to media criticism of apostolic visitation of US nuns

November 04, 2009

Responding to “many news reports” and “various inquiries” about the apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States, Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation of Institutes of Religious, released an English-language statement on November 3. He said that the visitation’s purposes are to “encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious” and “promote the Catholic identity and vibrancy of life of women religious.”

“For many years,” he said, “this dicastery had been listening to concerns expressed by American Catholics-- religious, laity, clergy and hierarchy-- about the welfare of religious women and consecrated life in general, and had been considering an Apostolic Visitation as a means to assess and constructively address these concerns.”

Cardinal Rodé revealed he moved forward with the plans for an apostolic visitation following his participation in a 2008 conference on religious life at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. During the congress, he analyzed trends in religious life, concluding, “I am convinced that if we adhere to what John Paul II taught us yesterday and what Benedict is teaching us today, we will emerge from the crisis of consecrated life into a new springtime of renewal in consecrated life in America.”

Cardinal Rodé added that currently “the major superiors in the United States are responding to a questionnaire that will present a comprehensive profile of each institute’s present reality and future outlook. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University is cooperating in the collection of information and will prepare a composite analytical report of the standard, objective data contained in Part A of the questionnaire. This report will be made public and should provide important information regarding likely future trends of religious life in the United States.”

“This dicastery,” he concluded, “will formulate no conclusions or plan of action, if any, until the final report of the Visitator has been evaluated. To date, I am encouraged by the efforts to identify the signs of hope, as well as concerns, within religious congregations in the United States, which are also likely to have implications elsewhere in the world. I ask all people of good will to unite in prayer for the fruitful outcome of this effort to promote the Catholic identity and vibrancy of life of women religious.”

 


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