Apostolic Visitation is moving forward despite ‘boycott’ reports

Mother Mary Clare Millea (center) with some of her fellow sisters
Mother Mary Clare Millea (center) with some of her fellow sisters

.- Responding to a report which claimed that the majority of women religious are not complying with the apostolic visitation, the Apostolic Visitation Office has said that “some congregations” have sent incomplete responses but the effort is moving ahead as planned. The National Catholic Reporter in a Nov. 24 article cited unnamed sources who claimed a significant number of religious congregations were not cooperating with the Apostolic Visitation.

“There's been almost universal resistance” said one unnamed women religious who reportedly was familiar with the congregations’ responses. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity."

Nov. 20 was the deadline for questionnaires to be returned to the apostolic visitator, Mother Mary Clare Millea, who is superior of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The National Catholic Reporter, citing “an informed source,” said many women religious submitted only partial answers to the questionnaire. Some sent in copies of their orders’ religious constitutions, arguing that this contained the information requested.

However, a statement from the Apostolic Visitation Office casts doubt on the extent of this uncooperativeness.

The Apostolic Visitation’s assistant for communications, Sr. Kieran Foley, FSE, responded to a CNA inquiry about the reported boycott.

She said the office continues to receive responses from major superiors to the questionnaires and has not yet completed its review of these responses.

“In a spirit of confidentiality, as I am sure you will understand, we are not at liberty to disclose how many we have received or from whom,” Sr. Foley told CNA. “While some of the congregations did send incomplete answers to the questionnaire, the Apostolic Visitation will be moving ahead as planned with the phases as described on the Apostolic Visitation web site, that is, at the completion of the data collection from the questionnaires (Phase 2), we will proceed to Phase 3, conducting selected on-site visits to congregations.”

On July 28 the Apostolic Visitation sent to congregation leaders a working document called an Instrumentum Laboris, which outlines the aims of the Visitation. The document presented “reflection topics” for all members of religious orders to consider in preparation for the visitation. Topics included the religious identity of the respondent’s order, its governance and financial administration, and its spiritual and common life.

Questions were presented concerning religious orders’ vocation promotion, admission and formation policies, and fidelity to and expression of their vows. The reflections also asked respondents about their concerns for the future of their religious order.


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