The nuclear-review committee of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops will wait until after next month's U.S.-Soviet summit to evaluate the Reagan administration's progress toward reducing the threat of nuclear war, Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin said here yesterday.

But Bernardin, the committee chairman, said "there is no sign" that the administration has heeded the 4-year-old pastoral letter in which the bishops condemned virtually every form of nuclear warfare.

The bishops' letter gave "strictly conditioned moral acceptance" to the policy of nuclear deterrence and directed the committee to monitor the international arms situation.

"It is necessary to emphasize that a basic concern of {U.S.} involvement in the nuclear question, the intensification of the nuclear arms race, continues," Bernardin said yesterday.

Intermediate-range missiles, the subject of an arms-control treaty being negotiated for the Dec. 7 summit, "constitute a small percentage of the nuclear arsenals of the superpowers," he said. "But the symbolic significance of the first arms agreement in 15 years, and the substantive fact that this would be arms reduction, should not be missed."

Bernardin said the committee, in making its report next March, would consider such technological developments as "changes in the accuracy of weapons, the advances in antisatellite weapons and . . . space-based defensive systems." The latter, he said, "will be a major topic of our report." He said the committee is concerned about "what would happen to humanity in a large-scale nuclear exchange" and "what already does happen daily to the poor and the vulnerable . . . because of the diversion of massive sums of money and much human energy in building arsenals which no sane political leader, American or Soviet, would ever want to use."

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the second day of its annual meeting here, also voted overwhelmingly

to launch a 10-year nationwide fund- raising program to ease the financial plight of tens of thousands of elderly nuns and priests.

Until fairly recently, formal pension systems were rare, especially in the more than 500 religious orders of women. Nuns, once the backbone of the parochial school system, were paid as little as $30 or $40 a month, from which they paid their living expenses and sent a share to the motherhouse to care for the elderly. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, thousands of young women left their orders and few replaced them.

Sister Mary Oliver Hudon, who heads the bishops' program on elderly nuns and priests, said yesterday that about 44,000 of the nation's 114,000 nuns are over 70 and that the median age of all American nuns is 65.

The problem is less acute among the nation's 20,000 priests and brothers. Their median age is 56, and 18 percent are over 70, she said.

A study completed last year estimated the deficit in religious orders' retirement funds at $2.5 billion, but the bishops appeared to back away from that figure yesterday.

"I hesitate to use the $2.5 billion figure," Bishop John R. McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., said. "We're not certain, to tell the truth, but it certainly is a very large figure."

The bishops approved a collection in every Catholic church for the next 10 years to meet retirement needs. That brings to 12 the number of special annual collections taken in the church for a variety of causes including black and Indian missions, Catholic University of America here and the Vatican.

McGann, treasurer of the bishops' conference, reported that the group suffered a $6.7 million "paper loss" in the October stock market crash. But he assured the bishops that "the conference's investments are carefully monitored."