VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican’s evangelization dicastery paid particular homage to consecrated women, whose contribution it sees as crucial for spreading the Gospel.
Anticipating today’s 10th World Day of Consecrated Life, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in recent weeks had published, through its Fides news agency, a lengthy report to highlight “the precious contribution offered by the consecrated woman.”
“In a thousand ways, in every place of the earth,” it said, the consecrated woman “take[s] the joyful proclamation of salvation, above all with the testimony of a life entirely given to God and brothers and, consequently, with her painstaking charity,” at times unto martyrdom.
It continued: “The ‘weight’ of the contribution of feminine consecrated life in the evangelizing and pastoral activity of the Church is of such solidity that Pope John Paul II affirmed that ‘the future of the new evangelization (…) is unthinkable without a renewed contribution from women, especially consecrated women.'”
As of year-end 2003 there were 855,655 consecrated women “at the service of the Church and brothers, especially the neediest” in the world, according to the report, citing the Statistical Yearbook of the Church.
The number of women religious of active life, both of pontifical as well as diocesan right, reached 776,269. There were 56,409 in Africa; 222,643 in the Americas; 148,225 in Asia; 338,688 in Europe; and 10,304 in Oceania.
Those who belong to feminine secular institutes reached a worldwide total of 28,916. There were 474 in Africa; 5,763 in the Americas; 1,440 in Asia; 21,194 in Europe; and 45 in Oceania.
Also, within contemplative life, there are 3,589 convents with close to 50,470 nuns: 30,435 in Europe; 14,479 in the Americas; 3,400 in Asia; 1,926 in Africa; and 230 in Oceania.