BY SCO Admin | February 2 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-POPE-SYNOD-FAMILY

Pope speaks from heart to religious on vocations crisis

Pope Francis has said the Church must respond to the crisis of vocations with intensified prayer, not despair or a lax admissions process.

Speaking to male and female religious at a meeting to mark the end of Year for Consecrated life, he said he is tempted to lose hope, too, asking God, ‘What is happening? Why is the womb of consecrated life sterile?’ But he warned against fast fixes, saying some religious ‘congregations experiment with ‘artificial insemination’, in which they accept anybody, leading to a host of problems.

The vocations process must be done ‘with seriousness, and one must discern well that this is a true vocation and help it grow,’ he told members of religious orders, secular institutes and consecrated virgins last night in the Vatican audience hall. The Pope met with some 5000 men and women taking part in events in Rome to mark the close of the Year for Consecrated life, which began November 30, 2014, and ends today, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Jubilee of Consecrated Life.

Handing his written text over to Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Institutes for Apostolic Life, Pope Francis said he preferred to speak from his heart ‘because it’s a bit boring to read’ a prepared talk.

Both his prepared text and his impromptu talk highlighted the three most important ‘pillars’ of consecrated life: being prophetic; being near all people; and having hope. It is important to be obedient while being prophetic, which is always about following God and reflecting his divine love, he told his audience.

Obedience for a religious is not the same as ‘military obedience’, he said; it’s about giving one’s heart and seeking to discern what is being asked. If the rules or requirements are not clear, then one must speak with one’s superior and always obey the final word, he said. “This is prophecy—against the seeds of anarchy, which are sown by the devil.”

Likewise, the Pope said, if members of a religious community are asked to obey something that doesn’t sit well, then—he gestured taking a big pill and gulping it down.

‘Since my Italian is so poor I have to speak sign language,” h said with a smile, adding that ‘one must stomach that obedience.’

Being prophetic is telling and showing the world that ‘there is something truer, more beautiful, greater and better that we are all called to,’ he said.

The Holy Father also said backstabbing and gossip are a danger to religious life, he said.

“Whoever gossips is a terrorist,” he said, because they drop harmful words like bombs against others, leaving behind destruction while the attacker walks away unscathed.

“During this Year of Mercy, if each one of you were able to never be a gossip-terrorist it would be a success for the church, a success of great holiness. Be brave!” he said.

The Pope thanked religious men and women for their work, especially consecrated women.

“What would the church be if there were no sisters?” he asked, recalling their presence in Catholic hospitals, schools, parishes and missions around the world.

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

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