Fascinating interview by John Allen of Cardinal Seán O’Malley. The stuff on sex abuse and cover-up was interesting enough. The visitation of women religious has been off the radar for a few month. It’s not going well, concedes the Archbishop of Boston, who serves on the curia’s Congregation for Religious Life:
I’m very concerned that it’s being received so negatively. My hope had been that it would be like the seminary visitation: It gave people an opportunity to look at themselves in preparation for the visitation, what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, and how they could do things better. I got together with all the major superiors in Boston and tried to encourage them. I wrote them a letter and listened to their questions and fears.
Cardinal O’Malley insists that bad things are not on the horizon. He is an optimist. But he also concedes he wasn’t even consulted about the visitation before it launched. Hmm. The only American cardinal who’s in the curial department dealing with religious life. Clueless. (To be accurate, it might be Cardinal Franc Rodé is clueless–not even discussing the matter with one of his own.)
Some analysis of women’s religious life:
After the Second Vatican Council, a lot of our religious communities, I think, evolved into something like secular institutes. People might have a lay job, living in an apartment. They live the vows, they live good lives, but it’s something different from traditional religious life with its stress on community and a common spiritual life. The secular institutes have never had many vocations. It’s always been a very small cohort in the church. I think that some of our religious communities went that way, and they lost the ability to recruit a lot of young women who are really looking for community.
Cardinal O’Malley’s thoughts on the breach of trust between women religious and the Catholic hierarchy are worth considering–the history, the craziness of bishops of the past. It’s understandable women would want nothing to do with bishops that, admittedly, are not always the most supportive or communicative. And if Rome isn’t even communicating with its bishops, why would people many steps removed from the college of cardinals, from the bishops, from Holy Orders, and separated by an ocean think anything good is behind this effort?
The archbishop doesn’t give his congregation a perfect report:
I do think they kind of rushed it. I think there could have been more build-up and better preparation, better consultation beforehand. This is so complicated, and there’s such a spectrum within religious life.