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Catholic church investigates U.S. nuns

July 2, 2009 at 6:13 PM

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- The Vatican is investigating the conduct of U.S. nuns through two "visitations" of religious orders and an umbrella organization.

Several nuns told The New York Times they fear the church is trying to restore old traditions such as wearing habits, living in convents and working in church institutions.

"They think of us as an ecclesiastical work force," said Sister Sandra M. Schneiders, who taught at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Calif. "Whereas we are religious, we're living the life of total dedication to Christ, and out of that flows a profound concern for the good of all humanity. So our vision of our lives, and their vision of us as a work force, are just not on the same planet."

The more extensive Apostolic Visitation is being done by Mother Mary Beth Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a U.S. native now living in Rome.

The other visitation is an assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella organization that says it has 1,500 members from most U.S. orders. Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the conference it has failed to promote church teaching on homosexuality, the men-only priesthood and holding the Catholic church to be the only means to salvation, the newspaper said.

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