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The Religious Life

VATICAN WATCH

By James Hitchcock | December 1983

In late summer, Pope John Paul appointed a commission to survey religious life in the United States, especially with an eye to determining why so many orders have experienced a catastrophic de­cline in numbers. Anyone familiar with religious life is aware of serious abuses that exist in many communities. Predictably, prominent women reli­gious began publicly denouncing the study, which they branded as “interference.”

Meanwhile, the Jesuit Order, which had been governed by a special “personal delegate” of the Pope for two years, elected a new general, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, a Dutchman who spent many years in the Near East and, when elected, was head of the Vatican’s Oriental Institute in Rome. At the time of his election he was largely an unknown quantity in the U.S. The fact that he — scarcely mentioned as a candidate prior to the elec­tion — was chosen on the first ballot, suggests that the electors received a signal from somewhere, al­though it was not immediately clear from where.

 

©1983 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved.

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