A far more interesting question than who left and why is, “Why did the ones who stayed, stay?” These are the women who, today, compose the largest cohort in religious life, the 60-80 year olds. This is not only the largest but also the most vibrant group in religious life flanked at one end with a small number of wonderfully courageous new entrants in their late 20s to 40s and at the other end, by a still numerous group of women in their 90s and beyond who continue to witness with stunning beauty to the joy and fruitfulness of a life totally given to God and God’s people.
Overall, it’s not been a good year for the Vatican. Schneiders picks up on some possible envies at work. American Catholics support their retired religious more than Peter’s Pence, or any other special collection. The Vatican seems to also be patting itself on the back for unprecedented surges in religious vocations in the middle of the last century, forgetting the sparse days that came before.
Sr Schneiders offers an apt question. Why is the Vatican asking questions of the ones who stayed, the ones who remained faithful?