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Vatican visits women’s religious orders in US

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Women in Catholic religious orders are pondering the reason for an apostolic visitation from the Vatican. That’s a check-up from a papal emissary to figure out whether a church institution is straying from approved doctrine or practice. The last visitation to the United States involved clergy sexual abuse scandals uncovered in recent years.

Sister Sandra Schneiders told KPCC’s "Patt Morrison" that the scrutiny perplexes her and other nuns.

Sister Sandra Schneiders: “Normally, an apostolic visitation occurs when there are credible, serious allegations of abuse of some sort. There have been no allegations against religious sisters, so we’re left to speculate about what exactly is the purpose of the visit, or what they’re trying to find out.”

Schnieders is retired from teaching the New Testament and spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. She suggested that one reason for the visitation may be that in the last 45 years the number of Catholic nuns in the U.S. has declined by two-thirds, to 60,000.