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Fifty years ago, nearly 200,000 religious sisters worked in Catholic schools, hospitals and other institutions throughout the United States. American Catholics honored these women of faith who founded and built these flourishing works of mercy. Then came the ideological shifts and moral upheavals of the 1960s, and ever since, most women's orders in the United States have been in a state of crisis. Now the sisters are aging, with fewer and fewer younger women to take their place. Perhaps related to this demographic shift is the continuing doctrinal confusion that has come under the scrutiny of the Vatican. Using the archival records of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and other prominent groups of sisters, journalist and author Ann Carey shows how feminist activists unraveled American women's religious communities from their leadership positions in national organizations and large congregations. She also explains the recent and necessary interventions by the Vatican. After examining the many forces that have contributed to the crisis, Carey reports on a promising sign of renewal in American religious life: the growing number of young women attracted to older communities that have retained their identity and newly formed, yet traditional, congregations.
Rev. ed. of: Poverty, chastity, and change.
Ann Carey looks behind the depressing figures to find the causes, and maybe the solutions as well for the drop in vocations.
The year 2015 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council, which aimed to align the Church with the modern world. Over the last five decades, women religious have engaged with the council’s reforms with unprecedented enthusiasm, far exceeding the expectations of the Church. Addressing how Canadian women religious envisioned and lived out the changes in religious life brought on by a pluralistic and secularizing world, Vatican II and Beyond analyzes the national organization of female and male congregations, the Canadian Religious Conference, and the lives of two individual sisters: visionary congregational leader Alice Trudeau and social justice activist Mary Alban. This book focuses on the new transnational networks, feminist concepts, professionalization of religious life, and complex political landscapes that emerged during this period of drastic transition as women religious sought to reconstruct identities, redefine roles, and signify vision and mission at both the personal and collective levels. Following women religious as they encountered new meanings of faith in their congregations, the Church, and society at large, Vatican II and Beyond demonstrates that the search for a renewed vision was not just a response to secularization, but a way to be reborn as Catholic women.
From 1962 to 1965, in perhaps the most important religious event of the twentieth century, the Second Vatican Council met to plot a course for the future of the Roman Catholic Church. After thousands of speeches, resolutions, and votes, the Council issued sixteen official documents on topics ranging from divine revelation to relations with non-Christians. But the meaning of the Second Vatican Council has been fiercely contested since before it was even over, and the years since its completion have seen a battle for the soul of the Church waged through the interpretation of Council documents. The Reception of Vatican II looks at the sixteen conciliar documents through the lens of those battles. Paying close attention to reforms and new developments, the essays in this volume show how the Council has been received and interpreted over the course of the more than fifty years since it concluded. The contributors to this volume represent various schools of thought but are united by a commitment to restoring the view that Vatican II should be interpreted and implemented in line with Church Tradition. The central problem facing Catholic theology today, these essays argue, is a misreading of the Council that posits a sharp break with previous Church teaching. In order to combat this reductive way of interpreting the Council, these essays provide a thorough, instructive overview of the debates it inspired.
The international media spotlight on the tension between the Vatican and the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious necessitates a comprehensive study of religious life for women in America. This book answers the call by examining contemporary religious life, particularly among women who have entered religious institutes in the United States since the end of the Second Vatican Council. Using two in-depth surveys of the entire population of women who became sisters during this period, the study presents a rich, multilayered portrait of women religious, highlighting the voices of those generations who entered after 1965. It provides up-to-date demographics for women's religious institutes in the United States; a summary of canon law locating religious life within the various forms of life in the Church; and data on the views of post-Vatican II entrants regarding ministry, identity, prayer, spirituality, the vows, and community. Beginning each chapter with an engaging narrative, the authors explore how different generations of Catholic women first became attracted to vowed religious life and what kinds of religious orders they are seeking. The book concludes with recommendations for further understanding of generations within religious life and within the Church and society. Because of its breadth and depth, this book will be regarded by scholars, the media, and practitioners as the definitive sociological study of religious life in the U.S. for many years to come.

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