Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Book Rebukes Renewal, Nuns Rebuke Book

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Book Rebukes Renewal, Nuns Rebuke Book

Article excerpt

U.S. women religious, facing a sharp decline in numbers in recent years, are paying the price for an overzealous reform movement, according to a new book.

The book, Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities, was written by Catholic journalist Ann Carey and published in April.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive committee, however, responded that they do not see their membership as "sisters in crisis," but rather "sisters in service, whose charism has never been long-range survival, but rather service for the needs of the times."

Carey said she was inspired to write the book after reporting on national meetings of women religious for Our Sunday Visitor. She said her hope was to present a "historical document" to get the renewal of women's religious orders "back on track."

Carey researched the University of Notre Dame archives, poring through documents from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the National Assembly of Women Religious.

She said she was distressed to learn that changes implemented by U.S. sisters over the past 30 years did not follow the guidelines stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Reforms mandated by Vatican II for religious women included modernizing habits, eliminating meaningless rules and regulations, enriching spiritual experiences and applying apostolates to contemporary needs.

Reform did not call for transforming the basics of religious life, such as community life and prayer, or developing more secular lifestyles, she said. …

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