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Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities [Hardcover]

By Ann Carey (Author)
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Item Number 129821  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   367
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.32" Width: 6.31" Height: 1.11"
Weight:   1.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1997
Publisher   Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN  0879736550  
EAN  9780879736552  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"WOMEN RELIGIOUS, WHO ONCE were revered as models of deep spirituality and Christian virtue, now have a reputation as the most rebellious group within the Church. The names of sisters are prominent in organizations which challenge the Church on issues such as abortion rights, women's ordination, and internal authority structures of the Church. In many orders of women Religious, sisters no longer live together, pray together, or work together. Sisters, who once were the backbone of Catholic institutions, have left those institutions in growing numbers to pursue 'ministries' in the secular sphere that have little to do with the Church or the vows they profess as consecrated women.

Publishers Description
Ann Carey looks behind the depressing figures to find the causes, and maybe the solutions as well for the drop in vocations.

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More About Ann Carey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ann Carey is a veteran journalist who specializes in bioethics and Catholic women religious. Her work has been published widely in periodicals such as Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, Crisis, and Catholic World Report. She has received Catholic Press Association awards in news and feature writing as well as investigative reporting, and has taught writing and journalism at the college level. Ann and her husband live in South Bend, Indiana, where they enjoy the company of their children and grandchildren.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General   [5549  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Counting the trees and missing the forest  Jan 4, 2007
I had been looking forward to reading this book because of research I'm doing on a related topic. I'm not a Catholic and certainly not a nun but I am definitely a Christian and interested in how the Good News intertwines with American history.

I was so disappointed in Ms. Carey's approach that I felt downright cheated as a reader. As another reviewer notes, Ms. Carey looses her journalist perspective in this book...if there ever was any, I would add. Certainly by page 15, last sentence of the second paragraph, it is gone entirely. Too bad, because she has done respectable research. I wondered who was paying for the book since the slantedness is so pronounced. The tragedy for the reader is that the more complete, compelling and difficult truths are washed out in easy-to-swallow platitudes.

The section on the Sister Survey has tremendous 'meat' in it, and Carey should be commended for bringing data forward. She fails, however, to put a context on the data beyond "he said/she said" and leaves the reader to pick up on all the well-placed inferences from previous chapters. In short, there is no in-depth thinking and, as another reviewer points out, she reveals clear personal contempt for the 'change-sisters' as a basis for those conclusions she does draw.

For me, the most significant shortcoming of the work is the lack of adequate consideration to what was happening TO the sisters, to the church as a whole in the U.S. (its overall relationship to European mothershouses and even to Rome) and to the communities that the sisters had been serving. Significant poltical, economic and social upheavals in the post WWII America cannot simply be wisked away as 'new age' stuff. It is inconceivable that these upheavals failed to act upon the individual and the community characteristics of religious women any less than they left their mark on Americans as a whole...where/how we lived, our values, our music, our hopes or lack thereof. The notion that the decline of religious sisters' groups is due to internal struggles between persuasive 'change sisters' and apparently passive 'traditional sisters', albeit sparked by Vatican II, is so naive as to be stunning. Yet, that is the message that Ms. Carey brings home more than once.

Even viewed with the narrow inward-looking perspective that dominates the book, no serious consideration was given to the problem of how women religious communities were faring economically, what had caused their economic crises and the impact that community economics had on the outlook of the sisters. Blaming the dilemmas on changing from traditional habit to secular clothes is not a sufficiently comprehensive answer for me.

One psychologist (not a reveiwer) has suggested that one of the possible reasons why social justice was of such interest to many of the 'new' sisters is because their own situation was so unjust. Delve into the on/again-off/again -- mostly WAY off -- support provided to women religious vs priests in some diocesan areas and one wonders how justice was served at all. Clearly that's a whole book unto itself.

Finally, Ms. Carey's work seems to belie a preference for Euro-dominated orders as the ideal - although never stated like that. If that is correct, then it helps make some sense of why 'change sisters' are so abhorent in her view. Sort of like some British still preferring to think of us as 'the colonies.'

Not coming from that tradition, I'd have to say that I don't share her notion. I feel that Ms. Carey put together a goodly amount of data and then proceded to count the trees instead of seeing the forest or well beyond.

Slanted view point  Aug 3, 2005
The book is very negative and slanted. It fails to take into account the numerous women who lived through the chnages in religious life and are living healthy, vibrant and God centered lives of prayer and ministry.
sobering statistics  Jun 10, 2005
Ann Carey deserves much credit for this carefully researched work on the crisis in female religious life in the USA. The statistics presented are sobering. The dramatic decline of teaching sisters from 104,000 in 1965 to fewer than 13,000 in 1995 is a major turn of events in US Catholic history. With the skill of a seasoned journalist, Ann Carey explores the reasons behind this 88% drop in just 30 years. While Vatican II called for an appropriate renewal of religious life, many religious congregations embraced forms of experimentation that were sincere but ill-conceived. Some went even farther and began to manifest open resistance to ecclesiatic authority. For those who are trying to understand the sources of conflict in the post-Vatican II Church, this book is highly recommended.
What Happened to the Good Sisters  Jul 9, 2003
After I read Carey's work, I finally understood why the majority of nun's communities were marching toward extinction. Whenever there is an article in a periodical about the decline in vocations, religious are quick to claim that their numbers are declining because "society has changed and there are more opportunities for women" or "young people are more materialistic and do not want to make sacrifices." At no time does one hear them admit that the reason they no longer attract new members is because they have lost their communal and distinctive identities and life style. Surprisingly, there are orders of nuns in 2003 who have retained the essentials of religious life (communal prayer, religious garb, community life and a corporate apostolate) and they are thriving. These are the women who will lead the people of God into the next century.
Painful Truths  Sep 10, 2000
This is by far the finest and best-documented study of the collapse of the Catholic orders of religious women in the postconciliar period. The author provides immense documentation (much taken from original archival sources) to illustrate how these orders collapsed when they pursued a path of renewal that clearly contradicted the documents of Vatican II and the postconciliar directions indicated by the Vatican. It may seem superficial, but the decision to abandon the habit, communal prayer, corporate apostolate, and the convent has spelled death for many of these orders. And the bitter New Age theology (often tinged by anti-Catholicism) adopted by some of these groups only indicates the spiritual depth of this suicide.

The story is painful to read, but Carey documents how one once-vigorous order after another chose the path of self-destruction. And the treatment of nuns who wanted to follow the authentic path of renewal remains a scandal.

The book is weaker when it tries to get at the causes of the decadence of religious orders. I'm not so sure that the "elites" of LCWR were really that much different from the average nun back in the school or the hospital. I also don't think that the key Church documents on reform of religious life were somehow hidden from nuns. Most of these documents were published in the local diocesan paper or could be easily picked up (at modest cost) from a Catholic bookstore. Many nuns simply chose to move in a different direction---and they and the church are immensely poorer for it.


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