Last evening (10/16/09), I caught several minutes of a Raymond Arroyo interview on my car radio. I recognized Ann Carey as the interviewee, long before I heard her name. Now 12 years old, "Sisters in Crisis" remains a scholarly, fascinating, and disturbing work. Even those who disagree with Ms. Carey's interpretations will have to be impressed by her scholarship.
As per a 2/15/09 piece by Ms. Carey, "The Vatican has launched an unprecedented examination of 'quality of [religious] life' in women's orders in the United States....The visitation's website cites the changes in apostolic works of U.S. women Religious, as well as their aging population and declining membership -- down to 59,000 from a high of about 180,000 in 1965. The visitation does not include cloistered, contemplative orders....The news came just weeks after the release of a report on an unrelated apostolic visitation of U.S. seminaries that had been prompted by the clerical sex abuse scandal....Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, talked about the Vatican's concerns for U.S. religious life last fall....'The history of the Church in the United States of America is rich with the contributions of consecrated men and women who have left an indelible mark on the culture'....'Despite this past greatness and present vitality'....'we know -- and it is one of the major reasons we are gathered here today -- that all is not well with religious life in America'" (Ann Carey, Vatican launches assessment of U.S. women's religious orders, Our Sunday Visitor, 2/15/09).
As to why there would be questioning of this Vatican examination - particularly in the secular press - I am at a loss. Aren't there secular management emphases on evaluations, re-evaluations, and improvement?
4/23/12 ADDENDUM: Ann Carey was certainly prophetic! "Carey told CNA on April 20 that ever since the LCWR revised its statutes in 1971, it has had a rocky relationship with the Vatican....On April 18, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that it had appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead reform efforts within the conference....Carey said that members of the LCWR have 'definitely' exhibited doctrinal problems and have also 'made it quite clear that they are intent on changing the nature of religious life'....Carey explained that many of the problems illuminated in the Vatican's assessment are the result of a 'misinterpretation of Vatican II documents'....while the council called for renewal by returning to the orders' original founding ideas & adapting them to modern times, many people misinterpreted this call and instead proceeded to 'totally throw off some of the essentials of religious life,' she said....'For vowed religious to be embracing teachings that are dramatically opposed to the official Church teaching is very scandalous and damaging,' she said" (Michelle Bauman, Author says women's conference should return to authentic religious life [...], 4/22/12).