ST. JOSEPH - The Vatican is going out of its way to mend fences with American religious sisters, thanking them for their selfless work.

A long-awaited report on the Vatican's three-year investigation into the U.S. women's religious order has been released. It also suggests ways to survive amid declining numbers.

Prioress Sister Michala Hedican of the St. Benedict's Monastery says their numbers are down, but they remain strong.

In the past, the Vatican had been critical of American nuns because of their stance on social justice issues, and had condemned them for having a feminist mentality.