.- Responding to a pundit’s charge that Catholic nuns are “second class citizens” facing “inquisitions” for their “modernity” and “independence,” columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez has said there are many happy, young women in the convent today and that the Vatican investigations especially concern dying orders which have gone “off course.”
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently claimed that the Vatican apostolic visitation to American women religious institutes hopes to “herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.”
Dowd also criticized what she saw as bishops’ hypocrisy in rebuking dissenting religious sisters but apparently doing nothing in response to wayward and abusive priests.
Commenting on Dowd’s essay, Katherine Jean Lopez wrote in National Review Online that Dowd needs to meet some of the young sisters she has.
“Young women are willingly devoting their lives to the Church, with veils and all,” she commented.
“It’s becoming common that orthodox orders report waiting lists, as they see themselves filled to capacity with young postulants and their overjoyed older sisters.”
The Vatican investigation is necessary, Lopez wrote, because many orders are “literally dying.”
“They are not recruiting, and they’ve long lost their charisms.”
As evidence, she noted reports of a Dominican sister in Illinois who volunteers as an escort at an abortion clinic.
Many religious orders no longer live or pray in community and even openly dissent on Catholic teaching, she reported.
“The Vatican has taken action because there are ships off course. And the waters are rough; our culture can’t afford to have so many lost at sea,” Lopez wrote. “The fog has come because of surrender to the cultural chaos. Maureen Dowd’s answers involve more of the same — confusing faith with politically correct fluff.”
According to Lopez, Dowd wants the Church to remake herself in the image of conventional mores. However, this itself is the cause of the collapse of dying religious orders.
Pope Benedict XVI’s message is different from that of the New York Times, Lopez continued, but it is a liberating one, “much more liberating than the tired and angry gender politics that offers little hope to the anxious men and women of our time.”
On Tuesday Cardinal Franc Rode of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life announced that a report on the findings of the present apostolic visitation will be made public. He said he is “encouraged by the efforts to identify the signs of hope, as well as concerns, within religious congregations in the United States.”