From David Usborne @ the Independent:
American nuns could be said to have their habits in a twist in the face of two investigations by the Vatican into whether they have come to espouse lifestyles and views on the Church that may just be a tad too modern. Except that many don't wear habits any more. They wear regular clothes, even jeans.
Many nuns have stretched beyond the cloistered life to enter professions like teaching, the law and social work, and often eschew convents in favour of living alone. But, for the Vatican, it seems that American nuns may have strayed a bit too far from the traditional path.
There was a warning shot in March when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a decree telling Catholics that they should desist from practising Reiki, an ancient Japanese healing technique increasingly favoured by nuns involving the laying-on of hands, and very far from the traditional approach that Rome seems to prefer.
Pressure on the nuns, whose numbers in the US have dwindled in the last four decades from 180,000 to just 60,000, has grown however since the launch of a so-called Apostolic Visitation ordered by the Vatican. With interviews and questionnaires, this is a formal inquiry into the activities of women's religious institutions being conducted by Mother Mary Clare Millea, an American nun who lives in Rome.