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America’s Orthodox Catholic Nuns Under Fire from Daily Kos

Posted on July 17 2010 9:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.
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Educated and faithful Catholics who are veterans at navigating the political world understand all too well that the Catholic Left thrives on continuous arguments against clericalism and orthodoxy in the Roman Catholic Church. Daily Kos diarist Sherman De Brosse provides plenty of fodder with his dire prediction of “eventual near-extinction” of America’s Catholic religious sisters.

Two questions immediately come to mind in examining the accuracy of De Brosse’s claims. First, who is De Brosse to decide what would spur an increase in religious vocations? Secondly, what data is he relying on?

De Brosse, a retired history professor who once referred to conservative churches in America as “religious Republican club houses,” holds a certain level of animosity toward conservatism in both religion and politics that is not merely a matter of record. It’s something that he has dedicated his life to discussing, including “seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s.” While such a background may invoke notions of credibility among the readers of Daily Kos, others might rightly consider that a hidden agenda is at play.

In regard to DeBrosse’s gloomy prediction that American Catholic nuns “are facing eventual near-extinction,” one can only wonder where he finds his data. While an official accounting of the overall numbers of religious sisters in America indicates a decline of 16% in the most recent year, according to VISION’s Report on Trends in Catholic Religious Vocations, there is “a 125 percent increase in the number of inquirers contacting religious communities” and “a 19 percent increase in those entering religious life.” It would seem that the once aging population of nuns is well on its way to being offset by newcomers.

Finally, what are we to make of DeBrosse’s claim that orthodoxy is an impediment to having a healthy population of nuns?  VISION’s study indicates the opposite is the case.

Those considering religious life (discerners) identify strongly with the teachings of the Catholic Church, with 66 percent of all respondents saying they are most drawn to religious life by a “desire to live a life of faithfulness to the church and its teachings.”

While attacks on orthodoxy and clericalism may serve as a good hook for the leftist Daily Kos, DeBrosse’s claims simply do not hold water.  Further, attacks on orthodoxy in the context of vocations amounts to a full-on assault on the thousands of Catholic nuns across America who embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church and dedicate their lives fully to that service.


Lisa Graas is a Passionist Oblate Associate and administrator of Parents’ Duty, a vocations site for Catholic parents.  Follow Lisa Graas on Twitter and visit her blog at

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