The request came in a letter from Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Dated July 14, the letter was made public Sept. 28 by the National Catholic Reporter, an independent Catholic newspaper based in Kansas City, Mo.
The study, known as an apostolic visitation, was authorized by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2008 and was expected to last three years.
“Because this apostolic visitation is so very important for safeguarding and promoting consecrated life in the United States, it is also imperative that it be methodically and efficiently conducted,” Cardinal Rode wrote. “I am asking you, my brother bishops, for your help in offsetting the expenses which will be incurred by this work for the future of apostolic religious life in the United States.”
The cardinal said the $1.1 million budget would cover “the three years which the total work of the apostolic visitation will require.”
Part of the study of U.S. women religious involves a questionnaire distributed to 341 congregations Sept. 18. Included were questions about membership, living arrangements, the ministries in which members participate, and spiritual life, including the practice of prayer and the frequency of Mass.
“The questionnaire is an extremely important part of the process of the visitation requested by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,” wrote Mother Mary Clare Millea, the apostolic visitator charged by the Vatican with directing the study, in a letter accompanying the survey.
Mother Clare, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, said July 28 that answers on the questionnaire will help determine which congregations will receive a visit by an apostolic visitation team.
The visits are expected to begin in the spring and continue throughout 2010, Mother Clare said in the letter accompanying the questionnaire.
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