Religious orders are in modern ‘crisis’ – Cardinal
The Prefect of the Congregation for Religious has said he believes religious orders today are in a “crisis” caused in part by the adoption of a secularist mentality and the abandonment of traditional practices.
Speaking in Naples, Cardinal Franc Rode, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, 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”, he said.
“All this has dried up the sources that for centuries have nourished consecrated and missionary life in the church,” Cardinal Rode said.
He warned that secularised culture had “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”.
Referring to the decline in vocations amongst religious orders after the Second Vatican Council, he described the post-Vatican II era as a period “rich in experimentation but poor in robust and convincing mission.”
Faced with an aging membership and fewer vocations, many religious orders have turned to “foreign vocations” in places like Africa, India and the Philippines, the cardinal said.
He added that the orders need to remember that quality of vocations is more important than quantity.
The Slovenian Cardinal’s office is currently overseeing the apostolic visitation of women’s religious orders in the United States which the Vatican has said is to help the sisters and to respond to concerns for their welfare.