Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo flags the Wednesday release of a four-year-long study of women religious.

Even the most casual observer knows that many female orders are, well, in disorder. A particular virulent version of the post-Vatican II flu ran through various orders of nuns, and there has been a catastrophic  decline in vocations.

The Vatican has named Archbishop Peter Sartain to the job of overhauling the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Although there are certainly some vital communities of women religious in the United States, far too many are moribund, often because they are dominated by an aging leadership that is far more liberal than even the ordinary liberalism of many lay Catholics—and often aggressively and bitterly so. That’s not a way to attract vocations.

Archbishop Sartain faces a tough job, and we should all be praying for success. The further renewal of the Church will turn on the renewal of religious life, including and perhaps especially religious life for women. In fact I’d say the same for renewal of culture in the West. We are heading into a crisis of sex, gender, and reproduction. Women in habits may be a very important witnesses in the midst of this crisis.

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