Religious life as prophetic life form

This is part one of a five-part essay by Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders on the meaning of religious life today. In this part Schneiders, professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, sets the context for “Religious Life as Prophetic Life Form.” These installments run from Jan. 4 through Jan. 8.

Why they stay(ed)

Essay

Two sets of questions concerning U.S. women religious are roiling the waters in and outside the church today: 1) Why are religious disturbed about the apostolic visitation? 2) What is the real motivation for this investigation?

Why are religious disturbed about the visitation?

Some laity, and even some (mostly more conservative) religious, wonder why religious would be upset at the invitation of Vatican officials to a discussion of their life with a view to encouraging and supporting the quality of religious life today. After all, no life is perfect and sometimes helpful outsiders can see things insiders miss.

Many religious (members and leaders) as well as Catholic laity and some priests and bishops are disturbed by the Apostolic Visitation currently being conducted for two reasons: the fact of the investigation; the mode of the investigation.