Report on U.S. Sisters Due at Year's End

More than 400 reports on the status of U.S.-based religious congregations of women will be sent to the Vatican by the end of the year by the apostolic visitator overseeing a years-long study of American religious life. Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the apostolic visitator appointed by the Vatican, said she started compiling the reports in September with the goal of completing them by Dec. 31. The reports—the fourth and final step in the visitation process—will summarize information obtained from multiple sources, including the 90 onsite visits to religious communities that concluded in December, she said. Mother Clare also planned to send a separate report offering an overview of U.S. religious life to the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Some of the 405 reports will include comments from individual members of religious congregations who offered observations and comments outside of the official visits, Mother Clare said. "We got some," she said when asked how many individual responses were received. "Some were very interesting," Mother Clare added, declining to elaborate. Responses from a questionnaire sent to the congregations in late 2009 as well as information Mother Clare obtained in earlier discussions and correspondence with superiors of religious communities also will be included in the reports. The visitation was initiated in January 2009 by Cardinal Franc Rode, who has since retired, to learn why the number of members in religious communities of women in the U.S. had declined since the late 1960s. The visitation also was to examine the quality of life in the communities for some 67,000 religious women.

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