Thursday, February 04, 2010

Rodé: Consecrated in "Crisis"

Fresh off the church's annual celebration of consecrated life -- and with the US' womens' communities already facing top-level scrutiny -- the Vatican's lead overseer of religious made a fresh batch of pointed comments yesterday on the state of the professed.

First given at a Naples conference, the key points from Cardinal Franc Rodé CM were given an added amplification on their appearance in the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano... and from Rome, CNS' John Thavis brings the story home:
A top Vatican official said religious orders today are in a "crisis" caused in part by the adoption of a secularist mentality and the abandonment of traditional practices.

Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life [CICLSAL], said the problems go deeper than the drastic drop in the numbers of religious men and women.

"The crisis experienced by certain religious communities, especially in Western Europe and North America, reflects the more profound crisis of European and American society. All this has dried up the sources that for centuries have nourished consecrated and missionary life in the church," Cardinal Rode said in a talk delivered Feb. 3 in Naples, Italy.

"The secularized culture has penetrated into the minds and hearts of some consecrated persons and some communities, where it is seen as an opening to modernity and a way of approaching the contemporary world," he said.

Cardinal Rode said the decline in the numbers of men and women religious became precipitous after the Second Vatican Council, which he described as a period "rich in experimentation but poor in robust and convincing mission."...

In any case, he said, "big numbers are not indispensable" for religious orders to prove their validity. It's more important today, he said, that religious orders "overcome the egocentrism in which institutes are often closed, and open themselves to joint projects with other institutes, local churches and lay faithful."
Of course, an assessment of the sort from the Slovenian Vincentian is nothing new -- Rodé blasted what he termed a "pseudo-aggorniamento" on the part of many communities at a 2008 conference on religious life held at Massachusetts' Stonehill College.

That gathering is believed to have played a key part in the cardinal's subsequent call for an Apostolic Visitation of Stateside communities of women, which was announced four months later. In comments last fall, the prefect said the two-year study of American sisters was motivated by perceptions of "a certain secularist mentality that has spread among these religious families, perhaps even a certain 'feminist' spirit."

Named to head CICLSAL in 2004, the cardinal reached the retirement age of 75 in September.