The Vatican has released its final report on women religious in the U.S. The report was based on an apostolic visit that was carried out between 2009 and 2012.
All in all, this visitation included a 341 religious congregations and 50,000 female religious. It was a visitation that was ordered by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. At first, there was some resistance.
CARD. JOÃO BRAZ DE AVIZ
Prefect, Congregation Institutes of Consecrated Life
"We cannot ignore the fact that at first, there was some sisters did express apprehension about the apostolic visitation. It's also true that some institutions have refused to cooperate.”
Sister Mary Clare Millea was appointed to head the apostolic visitation. She was the nun who led the operation, but her team included an additional 80 female religious. She says that despite the challenges, the visitation opened a door of open discussion.
SISTER MARY CLARE MILLEA
"I affirm that the report given to us today reflects my findings in a concise and accurate manner.
I thank Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Archbishop Carballo for hearing our voices, our concerns and our goodwill, and for responding to us with sensitivity, respect and clarity.”
SISTER SHARON HOLLAND
President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
"There is an encouraging and realistic tone in this report. Challenges are understood, but it is not a document of blame, or of simplistic solutions.”
The report addresses some of the challenges women religious face in the U.S. Issues like the decline in female vocations, which in turn has affected efforts to promote additional vocations. There's also the lack of economic resources, especially in communities with elderly sisters.
Others issues include sisters who don't feel their work is fully appreciated by the Church. All these concerns are included in the final, which was reviewed by the Pope himself.
ARCH. JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ CARBALLO
Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
"We prepared this final report, with the support of Pope Francis. The notion that one should feel exempt from the plight of the poor and the need to promote social justice, is something that resonates deeply within religious life in the U.S.”
The report also calls for special attention in areas like spiritual formation, community life, respecting the vow of poverty and strengthening Communion and ties with the Church, especially with bishops.
It also calls for religious institutes to carefully review their spiritual practices and ministry, so they are in complete harmony with Church Doctrine, on issues like God, creation, the Incarnation and Redemption.
During the press conference, they also highlighted that the report is addressed to all religious in the U.S. Individual recommendations will be made to certain institutes, under the discretion of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.