Okay, I can see why some religious orders were called to update their habits, especially those that were non-cloistered and worked in schools, hospitals, and with the poor:
Mother Angelica prior to the Vatican II renewal:
Mother Angelica in the disintegration of Vatican II renewal:
Mother Angelica and the recovery of Catholic sensibilities:
Mother Angelica's temptation to join the LCWR:
Mother Angelic becomes a pirate:
MY COMMENTS FIRST: Dr. Jeff Mirus gives a good, brief account of why some women's religious orders needed renewal and Vatican II encouraged it. He also shows how a goodly number of these orders went from one extreme to the other and disintegrated into a post-Catholic feminism that legitimized "disloyal dissent" from not only the good of the order but from the faith, morals and canon laws of the Church. Of course even a 5th grader knows that there is no such thing as loyal dissent when it comes to the truths of God and the legitimate authority of the Church. In the areas of faith and morals of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church all dissent is disloyal.
There are parallels with this disintegration in women's religious life and in the seminary programs of the 1960's and 70's. Most of the problems can be traced to a grotesque iconoclasm of all things Catholic and substituting a post-Catholic ideology vapid and uninspiring. Hence the loss of new candidates uninspired by the stark ugliness of what so-called renewal replaced.
Even today, parishes that are leaning toward post-Catholicism may have lively parishes and worship like Unitarians do, but they aren't Catholic, they've become something else with a veneer of Catholicism. Just because there are pockets of post-Catholic (gnostic/pelagian)parishes is no indication of their success. Success in Catholicism is fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, living and deceased, Ordinary and Extraordinary.
Sisters in Crisis: The Definitive Guide
By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( August 27, 2013 5:38 PM
Among the more important books released by Ignatius Press recently is an updated edition of Ann Carey’s Sisters in Crisis. Originally published in 1997, the initial study closed before the more dramatic efforts of the Vatican to reform women religious in the United States. The new 2013 edition, Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal, brings the chronicle up to date, including the Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious and the response to it, and the investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
Carey’s work is no mere overview. It does not simply summarize the conclusions reached long ago by knowledgeable Catholic insiders. The author has done both comprehensive and meticulous research into the patterns of religious life in the United States between about 1950 and the present, enumerating the stresses and strains caused both by explosive growth in the mid-20th century and by the revolutionary secularization of religious culture as the century wore on. The reader gains a clear idea of why the Vatican was talking about the renewal of religious life even before the Second Vatican Council, why that renewal was very slow to be undertaken, and how a spirit of rebellion and dissolution overtook many religious communities after the Council, during the last third of the century.
Sisters in Crisis is divided into three parts. The first, “Post-Vatican II Sisters: Ready for Renewal or Revolution?”, portrays the state of religious life at the close of Vatican II. The second, “How Did All of This Happen”, explores the progressive indoctrination of women religious, the rise to dominance of those in rebellion against the Church, the first efforts of the Vatican to redirect this process through the spectacularly unsuccessful Quinn Commission in the 1980s, and the ultimate ideological transformation of mainstream religious leadership organizations. The third, “Where Do Sisters Go from Here?”, explores the triple crisis of contemporary female religious life in America (vocations, finances and the elderly), the apostolic visitation, and the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR—the text of which is included in an appendix...
...A juxtaposition of passages from earlier and later portions of the book will serve to illustrate the importance of the theme. First, religious life at the time of the Council:
…change was resisted by most women’s orders, which continued to follow practices needing reform. For example, in many orders, even in the early 1960s, sisters were required monthly to ask their superiors for permission to perform routine tasks such as bathing, obtaining toothpaste and soap, doing assigned work, and even praying. Some sisters needed permission for normal adult activities such as using the telephone, even when doing so was an implicit part of their job. Behind this practice of requesting permission was an interpretation of the vow of obedience in which everyday activities didn’t have merit unless they were done as acts of obedience. Thus, all actions, even daily routines that every adult must perform, came under the authority of the superior. (p. 30)
After this, some religious communities eventually began the long process of renewal called for by the Council and by subsequent popes. Carey identifies these groups as following a “traditional” model.
But a great many institutes flew off on an immense tangent of feminism and Modernism. Sadly, this won them the praise of the world while putting them at odds with the Catholic Faith and causing their numbers to plummet as dramatically as has ever been seen in history. Carey, who deliberately avoids unattractive labels, calls these groups “change-oriented”. Thus:
…the institutes of women religious that carried experimentation and renewal to extremes that were neither intended nor authorized by the Second Vatican Council are in decline. Statistics show that these change-oriented institutes have lost a greater percentage of their membership than the traditional institutes, for their average age is in the seventies. In these institutes, the lifestyle of the sisters evolved to a point at which it became impossible to distinguish sisters from their lay professional counterparts…. A myriad of problems have arisen in aging orders, including retirement funding, building maintenance, and even decisions about continuing the existence of the institute. Still, as these problems escalated in the twenty-first century, many leaders of women religious continued to be more willing to accept the inevitable demise of their institutes than to admit that they had made mistakes. (p. 325)
In between these two snapshots, an overworked and under-appreciated workforce of women religious lost nearly 75% of their numbers overall, including a whopping 96% of sisters who taught in schools. The path through this sweeping destruction was marked by countless horror stories, deliberate indoctrination in modern ideologies, a crushing loss of faith, and direct defiance of ecclesiastical authority.
And yet there is great hope for the institutes which, whether early or late, have followed the authentic path of renewal, and for new institutes founded upon the principles of renewal the Church has set forth. Almost uniformly, their vocations are growing rapidly. Their apostolates are, once again, expanding into the world.
It is all thoroughly chronicled and explained in this remarkable book. If you want to delve more deeply into the history of the life of women religious in the United States over the past sixty years, do not be deceived by propaganda from any other source. Ann Carey knows the real story, the complete story, and she tells it extraordinarily well.