Challenges for Women Religious
Fox, Thomas C., National Catholic Reporter
Women religious remain in the news. In this issue we look at various aspects of their lives. We report:
* The projected cost of a three-year study of U.S. women religious congregations is now being set at $1.1 million, with the Vatican asking U.S. bishops to provide funds to offset these expenses (see Page 1). "We have a projected budget of $1,100,000 for the three years which the total work of the apostolic visitations will require," Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rode, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, told the U.S. bishops in a July letter. This news is unlikely to make critics of the study any happier.
* Speaking at the 40th anniversary conference of the National Coalition of American Nuns in St. Louis, Mercy Sr. Theresa Kane offered a stinging rebuke to the Vatican for its treatment of women in general and of women religious in particular (Pagel7). Referring to the Vatican investigation of U.S. women religious initiated last December by Rode, Kane called it "a sign of impotence in the church hierarchy." She went on: "Regarding the present interrogation, I think the male hierarchy is truly impotent, incapable of equality, co-responsibility in adult behavior," she said. "In the church today, we are experiencing a dictatorial mindset and spiritual violence." This Mercy sister calls it as she sees it.
* The once banished and forgotten foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Jeanne Jugan, will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 11, receiving the fullness of recognition she was denied in life (Page 7). It turns out that a priest, Fr. Auguste le Paitleur, who had been a spiritual advisor for some of the women during the early days of the order's founding, usurped Jugan, installing another mother general. He then sent Jugan out begging for funds. Eventually she returned to the motherhouse where younger novices did not know the isolated Jugan was their foundress. Jugan died at age 86, pretty much offeveryone's radar. A Jugan biographer, Paul Milcent, writes thisof Paflleur: "The Abbe le Pailleur's behavior has something odd about it, pointing to some kind of psychological disturbance. …