Nuns in Decline

News: US News
by Aidan O'Connor  •  •  August 9, 2022   

A liberal conference of women religious

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ST. LOUIS ( - An errant organization of nuns is hosting a "mystical" leadership event in hopes of gaining support.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious launched its annual assembly on Tuesday in St. Louis, Missouri. The event is titled "Mystical Wisdom: Following Spirit's Beckoning," and boasts the celebration of diversity, spirituality and "inner wisdom."

The event description claims:

The assembly will provide input into the mystical wisdom available to us and help us to recognize, share and celebrate the wisdom we each carry within ourselves. The fate of the world — with its multiple challenges — is calling for us to respond to this urgent need with these precise gifts that women religious possess.

Sister Carol Zinn, the group's executive director, gave insight into the conference's aim, calling it a "deeper dive" into a "mystical journey." She said the purpose is "not to go down there and stay there but to emerge from this space of deeper meaning-making to be of service to the life of the world."

Sr. Carol Zinn

Sister Zinn notes she is inspired by Pope Francis' exhortation to a "synodal journey" and, this year, will be asking members to bring a personal item symbolic of wisdom. The members will exchange their items with each other, so every participant can take home a "sense of collective wisdom."

Regions of the LCWR have already voted to extend the organization's 2019–2022 resolution for another three years. The resolution concentrates on the underlying causes of racism, migration and the climate "crisis."

To conclude the conference on Friday, the assembly participants will gather at Gateway Arch in St. Louis for a "15-minute ceremony that ritualizes three justice matters to which the leaders will commit themselves and the more than 30,000 sisters they represent — racism, forced migration and climate change."

The LCWR has a history of shilling a liberal agenda. In 2009, under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican launched an investigation into the LCWR for its errant positions on birth control and homosexual activity.

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Three years later, in 2012, the Vatican issued a report blasting the sisters for holding "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." Despite the Vatican listing "serious doctrinal problems" with the group, the nuns claimed their work for social justice was being misunderstood and underappreciated.

After a six-year contention with the Holy See, the sisters claimed they would "have due regard for the Church's faith," and the investigation ended in 2015 under the papacy of Pope Francis. One columnist noted, regarding the investigation, "The nuns won. ... What a difference a papacy makes."

Another theme on LCWR's assembly agenda for this year is "Where is the call for religious at this moment in time?" The LCWR is an umbrella organization that represents about 80% of Catholic nuns in the United States.

The number of Catholic nuns in the United States has been in free fall for over half a century.

According to the National Religious Retirement Office, the number of female religious in the United States has steadily dropped from over 180,000 in 1966, down to only 25,000 this year.

Similarly, data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate shows that the number of women religious was just under 50,000 in 2014.

Data on female religious from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

As the majority of orders under the LCWR are succumbing to modernism and declining numbers, many faithful orders are flourishing and attracting young Catholics.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist; the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal; the Sisters of Life; and the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa are just a few vibrant orders who appear to be embracing the Spirit of Truth, not the spirit of social justice.

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