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Why Liberal Nuns Are Dying Off

Take a look at that video, as much of it as you can manage without laughing so hard you pee your pants. The speaker is a California New Age guru named Barbara Marx Hubbard, who apparently survives on kombucha and pot brownies. This dear old thing descended from the clouds to be the keynote speaker at this week’s annual conference of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main organization of U.S. Catholic nuns, whom the Vatican is trying to bring back to reality.

Note well: this was their keynote speaker. I defy you to watch BMH and to tell me what she’s talking about. The words sound like English, but they don’t mean anything. I think she must be the mother of the late space-cadet magician Doug Henning.

The poor pope, bless his heart, is trying to save these American kooks from themselves, and is getting nothing but grief for it. Nuns who actually take a screwball like Barbara Marx Hubbard seriously are to be pitied, but the Vatican should just relax. I don’t think there’s any danger that they will be a threat to anybody in the future. Because they won’t be around:

The number of sisters in the majority of religious communities of women in the United States has been in fairly rapid decline over the past five years, dropping from 60,642 in 2007 to 46,451 today.

That loss of 14,191 sisters was reported by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious during its annual assembly in Garden Grove, Calif., last month. The conference, whose members lead 95 percent of the sisters in communities in the U.S., projects the loss of another 2,787 sisters in 2012.

This dramatic diminishment is the result of the death of women who joined the communities during the heyday of vocations in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, as well as fewer new members over the past 30 years.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reported in 2009 that 91 percent of women religious with final vows were at least 60 years old and that a majority of those under the age of 60 were in their 50s. Additionally, CARA reported that more than half of the women in initial formation in LCWR institutes are 40 or older.

You know what I’d like to see? Triumph the Insult Comic Dog covering the LCWR convention. But seriously, if you want to know why liberal American nuns are a dying breed, watch a couple of minutes of that video and contemplate that this is who they chose as their top conference speaker.

(Via Father Z.)

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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