Mother Mary Clare Millea answered a number of questions from NCR's John Allen recently, and the conversation is worth reading. Allen asks some great questions about the next steps, the cost of the visitation, and whether Cardinal Rode already has made up his mind about the state of Religious life in the United States.
The Vatican has estimated the cost of the visitation at around $1 million. Has that cost been covered?
We're not involved in the fund-raising. When we need money, we ask the Congregation for Consecrated Life. All I can say is that we're meeting our expenses. As our bank account gets low, I request funds from the Holy See.
So far, Rodé hasn't said you have to tighten the belt?
No. He has a copy of the budget, and I give him periodic updates on what we've spent. We still receive what we need.
Because Rodé's appeal was to the bishops, do you presume the bulk of the money is coming from dioceses?
I don't think so, but that's just an idea. I know that was a request for voluntary assistance. I don't know how much they received, but I believe it certainly wouldn't be covering the whole cost of the visitation.
You're presuming that the bulk is coming out of the ordinary operating budget of the Congregation for Religious in Rome?
I haven't asked that question, but I presume so.
Critics say part of the subtext of this visitation is to ensure that if women's congregations decide to give up their institutions, the church -- by which people usually mean the bishops -- keeps the property. Is that part of the agenda?
We had originally asked for some data about property and finances, and we've withdrawn that request in the face of reasonable objections. There is a canonical principle, of course, that any property that belongs to a religious congregation is essentially property of the church. For example, we have this beautiful mother house here on a 100-acre piece of property. If we were not able to use it, our superiors would have the obligation, before selling it to a developer, to make it known to the diocese. At the same time, there's no obligation to give away our property to a diocese. If we need the money to support our elderly sisters, for example, we can sell it and use the profit. But, there has to a dialogue with the church involved.
Is this visitation aiming to ensure that the sisters don't do those kind of transactions? No, that's not part of our purpose.
Read the rest here.