I found this incredibly under-researched article in TIME.com from last August.
Writer Jo Piazza laments the declining number of U.S. Catholic nuns whose numbers are now in free-fall, and rightly reminds us of the many services and good things that they have and continue to provide. However, she writes that if the church must change to suit these sisters, it would be a mistake.
It is not news that the number of Catholic men and women entering vocations has been declining for decades. The problem began shortly after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s which liberalized much about the Roman Catholic Church and which coincided with the increasing secularization of American society, and the influence of the modern women’s movement.
While the overall number of US nuns is down considerably in just the last 10-years, this loss is from the passing of many elderly nuns from the “glory days” before Vatican-2, and the lack of young women who decided against following in their liberal footsteps over the last 30-years. What Mme. Piazza doesn’t seem to grasp is that the liberal Catholic orders are the one’s which are in real decline, while those young women who are now seeking out Catholic vocations, more often than not, seem to be drawn to conservative and traditional Catholic orders which live communally, celebrate the Mass together, and prefer to wear habits. Much the same can be said for Catholic men who have been exploring religious vocations, and together the new blood appears to be heavily tilted towards conservative Asian and Hispanic Catholics who are replacing the older white liberals. On a much smaller scale we see the same thing in Orthodox Christian monasteries in the USA where it is not unusual to have waiting lists because there is not enough room to house all the men and women wishing to explore new vocations.
It is my belief that when nature finishes taking its course over the next 30-years, there will still be Catholic sisters in this country, but they will be more traditional and conservative in their practices, and more closely resemble the American population of the future.
Here is the link to TIME: