Vatican Steps Up Scrutiny of American Nuns
Nuns fear church heirarchy is seeking to return them to strictly traditional ways
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2009 1:57 AM CDT
Nuns from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity from Seattle, Washington, pray and sing while waiting for Pope Benedict XVI to come by along 5th Avenue in New York last yer.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Vatican has launched two major probes into the lives of America's 60,000 nuns, the New York Times reports. Many nuns have stopped wearing habits, moved out of convents, and found work in academia or political advocacy in the last few decades, and some fear the investigations are part of an effort from Rome to reel them back in to more traditional religious lifestyles.

The church hierarchy sees nuns as an "ecclesiastical work force,” a view that one nun says is “not on the same planet” as the more all-encompassing role spirituality plays in the lives of her contemporaries. No single cause appears to have provoked the investigations, but experts believe some nuns' involvement in groups calling for church reform may have been the last straw for the church's male hierarchy.