Vatican Balks At American Catholic Sisters’ “Failure to Comply”

Benedictine sisters, Minnesota, 1900.
Benedictine sisters, Minnesota, 1900.

As part of the response to the Vatican investigation into American Catholic sisters’ communities, many groups decided to not fill out those pesky and intrusive and demeaning questionnaires. Instead, they sent Sr. Millea, the feminine face of the Vatican’s investigation, copies of their charters of institution–the basic documents that define their mission and organization that have already been approved by the Vatican.

It seems to be a polite, clear, and respectful response to an unasked for intrusion into their lives and ministries.

Apparently, Sr. Millea isn’t too happy with the sisters’ “failure to comply.” (The institution is never happy when it says jump and your response is walk away.)  She sent a letter on Jan. 12  regaling the communities with the lovely time she had in Rome over Christmas and requesting that the sisters do what she said and that the Pope agrees with her. I have no doubt that her’s is a futile task.

Here’s an excerpt from the news article in National Catholic Reporter:

The questionnaires, sent last year to the heads of some 325 religious communities, were to have been returned by Nov. 20. A substantial number of the religious communities — some women religious leaders saying the “vast majority” of the communities — refused to comply with an initial Millea request to fill out all the questions on the questionnaire and instead filled out only some or none. A number of religious communities chose, instead, to return to Millea their order’s Vatican approved constitutions.

The decisions by congregation leaders not to comply followed nearly two months last fall of intensive discussions both inside and across religious congregations. They followed consultations with civil and canon lawyers, and come in the wake of what some women religious see as widespread support by laity for their church missions.

Effectively, the acts of noncompliance were mechanisms by U.S. women religious to signal their collective displeasure at what they view as an unnecessary and ill-formed investigation of their religious communities.

Millea’s letter, dated Jan. 12 and placed this week on the official apostolic visitation web site , was the first official acknowledgement of the failure of religious communities to fully comply with the Vatican request for information about the religious communities.

Read the whole article here.

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