Skip to comments.U.S. nuns face shrinking numbers and tensions with the Vatican
Posted on 08/10/2014 4:45:01 AM PDT by NYer
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which includes representation from more than 80% of American nuns, is set to hold its annual assembly next week in Nashville. The meeting comes as the organization continues to draw scrutiny from the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, and also at a time when there has been a steep decline in the number of nuns.
The Vatican first began taking a hard look at some organizations of U.S. nuns about five years ago, eventually ordering an investigation and a doctrinal assessment of the LCWR and a plan for organizational reform.
While the churchs specific concerns with the nuns are complex, a few major areas were highlighted in a 2012 Vatican document, which said the LCWR was silent on the right to life from conception to natural death and that Roman Catholic views on the family and human sexuality are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. The document also raised concerns about radical feminist themes at programs sponsored by the LCWR, and cited addresses at LCWR assemblies that manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors.
More recently, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the prefect of the Vaticans Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized the LCWR in an April address before a meeting with the organization and reiterated the Vaticans intention to require approval for speakers and awardees at LCWR events.
In addition to Vatican scrutiny, nuns also face a big challenge in their dwindling ranks. The total number of nuns, also called religious sisters, in the United States has fallen from roughly 180,000 in 1965 to about 50,000 in 2014 a 72% drop over those 50 years according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. While the total number of priests (diocesan and religious) also has fallen over that period, it has done so at a much slower rate (from about 59,000 to 38,000, a 35% drop).
Globally, the number of nuns also is declining, but not nearly as fast as it is in the U.S. In 1970, U.S. nuns represented about 16% of the worlds religious sisters; now, American nuns are about 7% of the global total (just over 700,000), also according to CARA.
A 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that U.S. Catholics were widely satisfied with the leadership of American nuns and sisters. Half of the Catholics surveyed (50%) said they were very satisfied, while an additional 33% said they were somewhat satisfied with nuns leadership. Only 4% said they were very dissatisfied.
A separate survey we conducted in 2013 asked U.S. Catholics, in an open-ended question, to name the most important way the church helps society: helping the poor part of the core mission of the LCWR or other charitable works, was by far the most popular answer (27%).
What a surprise! (/sarc)
Right. For those who don’t yet know: LCWR sisters are the liberal, “gotta be free, gotta be me, Kumbaya, let’s welcome gay marriage and Obamacare” sisters. The numbers of the conservative, faithful, orthodox, full-habit-wearing (as opposed to the LCWR polyester pant-suit) sisters are *booming*, with waiting lists to get in.
Post of the day. Sums it up perfectly.
LCWR represents the carpet munching faux nuns.
Don’t hear anything about marriage
TLM: Now what year are we talking about, roughly?
COULSON: '66 and '67. There's a tragic book called , which documents part of our effect on the IHMs and other orders that engaged in similar experiments in what we called "sensitivity" or "encounter." In a chapter of , one former Immaculate Heart nun describes the summer of 1966, when we did the pilot study in her order-
TLM: "We" being you and Rogers?
COULSON: Rogers and I and eventually 58 others: we had 60 facilitators. We inundated that system with humanistic psychology. We called it Therapy for Normals, TFN. The IHMs had some 60 schools when we started; at the end, they had one. There were some 615 nuns when we began. Within a year after our first interventions, 300 of them were petitioning Rome to get out of their vows. They did not want to be under anyone's authority, except the authority of their imperial inner selves.
TLM: Who's that on the cover of that book ?
COULSON: This is Sister Mary Benjamin, IHM. Sister Mary Benjamin got involved with us in the summer of '66, and became the victim of a lesbian seduction. An older nun in the group, "freeing herself to be more expressive of who she really was internally," decided that she wanted to make love with Sister Mary Benjamin. Well, Sister Mary Benjamin engaged in this; and then she was stricken with guilt, and wondered, to quote from her book, "Was I doing something wrong, was I doing something terrible? I talked to a priest--"
Unfortunately, we had talked to him first. "I talked to a priest," she says, "who refused to pass judgment on my actions. He said it was up to me to decide if they were right or wrong. He opened a door, and I walked through the door, realizing I was on my own."
TLM: This is her liberation?
COULSON: This is her liberation. Now, her parents had not delivered her to the IHMs in order for her to be on her own. She was precious to them. She describes the day in 1962 when they drove her in the station wagon to Montecito, to the IHMs' novitiate. How excited they were, to be delivering someone into God's hands! Well, instead they delivered her into the hands of nondirective psychology.
THEY NEED TO SUPPLY THEM WITH FREE BIRTH CONTROL.
Please, sisters, dig out your habits and go back to your vows AND practice them.
Hey NYer I don’t know about hood
In my part of the country we have group of convent of Asian American sisters I think they are Vietnamee they been coming to sometime I see them at 7am mass or 9am mass
Maybe in back east somewhere it dropping the membership in Covnent
Like I say in my previous post these sister I mention are wearing tradiontal nun habit way back in da day
They are cool
Notice that these dissident nuns do not talk about Jesus. It is obvious that they are not what is known as “intentional disciples.”
Pray for their conversion...or reversion as the case may be.
It’s easy to compare the dissident nuns with authentic nuns. The differences are stark. The Dominican sisters I know are all full of JOY. Their joy and happiness is contagious....and they are happy women of a wide range of ages. They are also finding themselves with the need to build additional facilities to handle all the new young women who feel called by Jesus in the same way. You hear “JESUS” frequently in their conversations. They are vibrant and full of a holy enthusiasm. I could add more...but you get the idea.
I love that so many young women are called to serve in full habit wearing, traditional God servants. One young woman left for a convent last year. She had such peace and joy radiating from her! After the Steubenville West Youth conference in Tucson at the U of AZ this month I was thrilled that 15 of our youth declared they were committing to discernment about becoming a religious. I pray at least one comes out of that group.
Meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Presidency of the LCWR
LCWR Announces Top Award for Theologian Criticized by US Bishops
Reforming the LCWR: Where Does It Stand?
Of the Viet Cong and Radical Feminist Nuns
New LCWR head says assessment is about Church's future
No real cooperation from women's religious group, author says
At the LCWR Woodstock in Orlando the sisters learn that we are stardust
Nuns in Arms! Sr. Fiedler runs down Archbp. Sartain as the LCWR Games begin
Religious women press for change (BARF ALERT)
Sr. Simone Campbell spins the CDF smackdown of the LCWR. Hilarity ensues
Pope Reaffirms Vatican's Call for Reform of U.S. Nuns' Group
The Honeymoon May be Over....
Communique of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...(lcwr report reaffirmed)
MSNBC Features Liberal Nun Slamming Catholic Church: 'One Of The Last Bastions Of Sexism'
NCR teams up with Ford Found backed entity to hide truth about Holy Sees Doc Assesment of LCWR
Bishop Robert Morlino Cracks Down on Madison Nuns for Espousing 'New Ageism' and 'Indifferentism'
Sister Simone Campbell, Nun from the Bus, rips Republicans at Democratic convention
The plot sickens (LCWR)
US nuns facing Vatican order to reform, quash dissent will hold talks with church leaders
Cardinal Burke on nuns group: If it cant be reformed, then it doesnt have a right to continue
LCWR Assembly Update: How did keynote speaker Hubbard do?
LCWR Assembly Begins. What their keynote speaker brings to the Nuns. VIDEO
LCWR assembly begins; Vatican representative told attendance 'would not be helpful'
LCWR Prepares to Discuss Response to Vatican Mandate to Reform
Bishop Explains Vatican's Criticism Of U.S. Nuns (promoting non-Catholic theology)
Sr Patricia Miller in op-ed canonizes St. Obama for his respect for religious liberty. No, really.
LCWR nuns: Catholic Church is pro-foetus but keeps silent on other essential issues
Analysis of NPRs interview of LCWR Pres. Sr. Pat Farrell: like a 7-y/os manipulative obfuscation
Biden brings cookies and ice cream to (dissenting) LCWR presidents motherhouse
Oh Sisters! Renegade Catholic nuns engage in media campaign (Nuns on Bus Alert!)
GUEST POST: the sisters chose to put this out there for the public
American Nuns Say Questions Not Defiance
Sister Keehan, CHA push dangerous compromise on HHS mandate (again)
Traditional Sisters Big Hit With Trendy Teens
LCWR reform is not criticism of religious orders, [Archbishop J. Peter Sartain] says
Sisters of Mercy doctors say LCWR is injecting politics into dialogue
Cardinal Sean P. OMalley Laments Discord on Nuns
Vatican Official Warns of 'Dialogue of the Deaf' with LCWR
Bishop Blair Pounds the Facts; LCWR Pounds The Table
Nun Who Leads Network Disparages Bishops, Hesitant to Call Herself Pro-Life
Analysis: Dispute With US Nuns Began Decades Ago
Vatican: LCWR under direction of the Holy See; must promote doctrine "taught through the ages"
The Biggest Distortion of All [LCWR vs CDF]
Nuns Brace for Vatican Meeting
Catholic Identity Once Again
Crisis of sisterhood: Radical U.S. nuns clash with Vatican doctrine guardians
Franciscan Friars Back American Nuns in Vatican Spat
Pastor Completely Loses It Over LWCR
Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA stands behind LCWR
Nun Too Accurate Reporting
Sisters of Mercy President Defends Farley, Criticizes CDF
Major Vatican Assault Coming in October, Says Former Maryknoll Provincial
Vatican Warns Against Errors in Mercy Nun's 2006 Book on Sexual Ethics
Priests Come to Nuns defense
Leaders of U.S. Catholic Nuns to Address Vatican Reprimand About 'Radical' Feminism
Toldya About the Lesbian Nuns in Leavenworth [Ann Barnhardt]
Split over nuns' role plays out online (LCWR nuns complain about blogosphere)
ANOTHER WAY TO BEAUTIFY THE CHURCH or 10 REASONS NUNS SHOULD WEAR HABITS (Warning-graphic images)
Dallas bishop communicating with nuns on their support for Gates global contraceptive campaign
When Reverend Mothers Cease Being Motherly
Nuns Issue Statement Defending Billionaire Contraceptive Campaigner Melinda Gates
Important Background Information About the CDF-LCWR Situation
Nuns Gone Wild: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Exhibit A for Explaining the LCWR Report
Vatican Crackdown on U.S. Nuns a Long Time Brewing
LCWR: getting to the truth of the matter (the blogosphere response to CDF document)
Radical feminist nuns group stunned by Vatican criticisms, reform plan
Vatican announces reform of US women's religious conference (more details)
Citing doctrinal problems, Vatican announces reforms of US nuns' group
In hard-hitting document Vatican launches clean-up of feminist nuns in United States
LCWR Having a Bad Day. Vatican Names Archbishop Delegate to Continue Watching LCWR and Network
Yes. Hope for the future.
Like in the 60’s movie, Where Angels Go Trouble Follows, with Stella Stevens?
I think that 40 years is likely more accurate.
The liberal orders have few under 80, very few under 70, and many over 80. I would guess an average age of about 80 for one and 40 for the other. As you point out, the median spread is probably even larger, and I would guess reaches 50 years (85 and 35).