IMAGE: CNS/Nancy WiechecBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to help contemplative
women religious renew their life and mission in the church and the world, Pope
Francis issued a series of new rulings dealing with formation, assets, prayer
life, authority and autonomy.
The new rulings include a mandate that "initially,
all monasteries are to be part of a federation" based on "an affinity
of spirit and traditions" with the aim of facilitating formation and
meeting needs through sharing assets and exchanging members. Monasteries voting
for an exception from joining a federation will need Vatican approval.
All institutes of contemplative women religious will need
to revise or update their constitutions or rules so as to implement the new
norms and have those changes approved by the Holy See.
Titled "Vultum Dei Quaerere" (Seeking the face
of God), the document focuses on the life of contemplative women religious.
Dated June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, it was released by the Vatican
July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.
The 38-page document contains 14 new articles ruling on
various aspects of life within monasteries and their jurisdiction, including a
regulation outlining the criteria needed for a monastery to retain juridical
autonomy or else be absorbed by another entity or face closure.
The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated
Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is now charged with creating a new instruction
to replace what had been the current -- but now no longer in effect -- "Verbi
Sponsa" -- the congregation's 1999 instruction on contemplative life and
Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation,
told reporters July 22 that the new apostolic constitution is meant to fill the
legislative gaps that have become apparent since Pope Pius XII's apostolic
constitution "Sponsa Christi," issued 66 years ago.
The bulk of the new document outlines 12 aspects of
consecrated life that call for "discernment and renewed norms" in an
effort to help contemplative women fulfill their specific vocation and
"essential elements of contemplative life," the pope wrote.
The document also notes today's pervasive "digital
culture" and praises the potential of internet for formation and
communication. However, the pope calls for "prudent discernment" in
the use of new media so that they don't lead women to "wasting time or
escaping from the demands of fraternal life in community" or become
harmful to one's vocation or an obstacle to contemplative life.
The pope praised contemplative women and expressed the
church's long-held esteem for men and women who chose to follow Christ
"more closely" by dedicating their lives to him "with an
undivided heart" and in a prophetic way.
Underlining how much the church and humanity need their
prayers, self-sacrifice and evangelizing witness, the pope said it was not easy
for today's world to understand their "particular vocation and your hidden
mission; and yet it needs them immensely."
Like beacons of light, contemplative women are "torches
to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time,"
pointing the way to the new dawn and the truth and life of Christ, the pope
said. They are "like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, announce to us: 'I
have seen the Lord!'" and Mary, the Mother of God, who contemplates the
mystery of God in order to see the world "with spiritual eyes."
However, contemplative life can "meet with subtle
temptations" -- the most dangerous being: listlessness, falling into mere routine,
lack of enthusiasm and hope, and "paralyzing lethargy," he said.
To that end, the pope highlighted 12 aspects of contemplative
and monastic life that needed particular attention and renewed norms for women:
formation; prayer; the word of God; the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation;
fraternal life in community; autonomy; federations; the cloister; work; silence;
media; and asceticism.
The document includes clearer regulations saying that
maintaining juridical autonomy will entail having "a certain, even
minimal, number of sisters, provided that the majority are not elderly, the
vitality needed to practice and spread the charism, a real capacity to provide
for formation and governance, dignity and quality of liturgical, fraternal and
spiritual life, sign value and participation in life of the local church,
self-sufficiency and a suitably appointed monastery building."
If a monastery falls short of the criteria, then the Congregation
for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life "will
study the possibility of establishing an ad hoc commission made up of the
ordinary, the president of the federation, a representative of the federation
and the abbess or prioress of the monastery." The commission's aim will be
to find ways to revitalize the monastery "or to effect its closure."
Pope Francis repeats warnings he has made before in
speeches to consecrated men and women, against "the recruitment of
candidates from other countries solely for the sake of ensuring the survival of
Archbishop Rodriguez explained the church is "not closing
its doors" to its universal makeup, but that more thorough and careful discernment
must be made by superiors and candidates in reflecting upon their reasons for entering
The document, the archbishop said, also clearly states that
nuns charged with formation can receive continued formation for themselves even
outside the monastery, in a way that is consistent with their charism. The
importance of their own formation cannot be sacrificed, he said, just because
they have been called to live a cloistered life.
The other major change, the archbishop said is contained
in article 10, in which each monastery is to ask the Holy See "what form
of cloister it wishes to embrace, whenever a different form of cloister from
the present one is called for."
"Once one of the possible forms of cloister is
chosen and approved, each monastery will take care to comply with, and live in
accordance with, its demands," the document said.
Other mandatory norms each monastery will have to adhere
to: verify the centrality and place of prayer in daily life; provide for
"lectio divina" and eucharistic adoration; find ways to involve the
local church more; and provide "suitable moments of silence."
The archbishop said no document on the life of
contemplative men's orders was in the works or being considered.
He said work on the constitution began two-and-a-half
years ago when the congregation sent out a questionnaire to every monastery, about
4,000 around the world. The responses were compiled and considered in the
drafting process of the new constitution, he said, and contemplative women were
"greatly listened to."
Like the number of religious men and women, the number of
contemplative women religious has declined the past decade going from more than
48,000 women in 2000 to less than 39,000 in 2014, he said.
Europe remains the continent with the highest numbers of
contemplative women -- more than 23,000, followed by the Americas with more
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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, ReutersBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON
(CNS) -- Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of
a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into
public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both
citizens and police officers among those dead.
task force's charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging
problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and
disseminate supportive resources and "best practices" for their fellow bishops;
actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law
enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve
stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action
animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of
communication and mutual aid in our own communities," said a July 21 statement
from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.
addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Archbishop
Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to
be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.
Gregory is a former USCCB president. Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G.
Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social
Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of
the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of
Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee,
Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.
of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force's
formation, will "serve as a focal point for the work of the task force."
task force's work will conclude with the USCCB's fall general meeting in
November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations
for future work.
stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest
and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental
health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun
violence," Archbishop Kurtz said. "The day of prayer and special task force
will help us advance in that direction."
force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops
whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise
bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller
number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon
thereafter, the USCCB announcement said.
honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops,
individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path
toward peace and reconciliation," said Archbishop Gregory in a July 21
statement. "We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and
sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing. The suffering is not
somewhere else, or someone else's; it is our own, in our very dioceses."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: By Carol GlatzVATICAN
CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis goes to Poland to meet with an expected 2 million
young people from around the world, he's going with a firm idea of the dreams,
fears and challenges so many of them face.
knows what lies inside the hearts and minds of today's youth, not because of any
third-party polling or sophisticated survey, but because Pope Francis practices
what he's called an "apostolate of the ear."
takes patience and grace, he told disadvantaged university students in Rome in
June, to truly listen to what others have to say -- a call he repeated during
his Angelus address this month, warning that people's hectic lives were threatening an already
hobbled ability to listen.
pope, a busy
ministry that could easily lead to isolation or overscheduling, he has worked
hard to make the time to listen to people of all backgrounds in public and
private settings. And he has often broken with papal protocol to get an
unfiltered look at what today's youth think and feel.
will scrap pre-written speeches and ask his sometimes very young audiences what
questions they have. He also does interviews with young people, including those
who aren't Catholic or even religious, like when he welcomed six young students
and reporters from Belgium in 2014.
they asked why he agreed to do the video interview with them, the pope said
because he sensed they had a feeling of "apprehension" or unease
about life and "I think it is my duty to serve young people," to
listen to and help guide their anxiety, which is "like a seed that grows
and in time bears fruit."
latest sit-down with a group of young people came in May when he met with YouTube
personalities from different parts of the world. The popular vloggers have a
huge following of millions of young people themselves, and so they know beyond
their own personal experiences what many kids today are thinking and feeling.
full 50-minute video of that closed-door Q&A was uploaded recently with
little fanfare by one of the 11 young people and posted on the YouTube channel,
questions they ask and advice the pope gives offer a good indication of what
he's been hearing these past years and what he may hope to convey when he meets
with participants at World Youth Day events.
a brief look at their biggest concerns and how the pope responded:
Bullying, exclusion, intolerance: The pope said dial down aggression by showing
tenderness and humility.
is always a sign of insecurity," so try to neutralize the attack by
showing good manners, listening, softly asking questions about what the person
is trying to say and letting them vent their anger.
should never react to provocation. It's better to look stupid than respond when
you are provoked," he said.
encounters and dialogue that look for a sense of belonging that goes beyond
racial, religious, ethnic or group identities. "There is something far
greater" to which everyone belongs -- the human family, he said.
Identity and belonging: The pope said people have to feel they belong to
something, and if their family or community is broken, then a virtual belonging
online can help. Supportive peers online can create a circle of friendship and
belonging, and from there "craft a path of hope" for those who feel
lost or alone.
Helping those who feel hopeless or lost: The best thing to do is not to speak,
but hold their hand, he said.
have forgotten the language of gestures and actions" and have gotten too
used to words, which sometimes, especially when someone is in pain, "are
of no use."
Immigration and integration: Newcomers need to be able to hold onto their own
culture, he said.
has such a negative experience of migration because they did not develop healthy
policies that fostered integration while allowing people to keep their own
culture without being judged or rejected, he said.
Fostering empathy, understanding among religions in the face of negative media
messaging: The relationship between people of different religious beliefs needs
to be based on brotherly love because "we all have the same father,"
have to listen to each other and look at the positive things each religion
proposes in order to build that positive relationship, he said. Solely
underlining what divides one religion from another amounts to "putting up
a wall" and attacking each other, he added.
makes us attack, what divides us are fundamentalists," he said, in which
individuals think they themselves hold the truth and everyone else is wrong. Starting
with the awareness "we are all brothers and sisters," he said,
"leads to dialogue."
Taking a stand on controversial topics, how to fight for what is right: The pope
said he is not always successful in quelling the anger his position or words
may cause "so if I fail, I always say it is my fault."
said he looks at what went wrong -- not to invent an excuse, but to see where
dialogue can be built.
helps me is to listen," he said. Sit down and hear what others have to say
and talk according to the art of persuasion, not aggressive debate, he said.
"Persuasion can be peaceful. This is my way."
pope repeatedly shows through his gestures and words that "the root of
peace lies in our capacity to listen," as he said at his Angelus address
for the pope ends up being not just a method for gathering information for
helping people; the gesture of listening is itself an act of peace.- - -Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Jok Solomun, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS)
-- Pope Francis sent a high-ranking cardinal to South Sudan to urge a
peaceful end to the escalating violence in the country.
Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, met
with President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, July 19 and delivered two
letters on the pope's behalf -- one addressed to the nation's president and
another to the vice president.
cardinal said the letters, which the pope gave to him prior to his departure to
Juba, contained a message calling for peace in the country.
pope's message "can be summarized like so: 'Enough now, enough with this
conflict,'" Cardinal Turkson told Vatican Radio July 20.
Ghanaian cardinal noted that "the speed with which the pope reacted to the
need of sending a message of solidarity and to call for peace is amazing."
to him some time ago, he told me, 'I want to go.' These difficult situations are
always in the Holy Father's heart," the cardinal said.
to SIR, the Italian bishops' news agency, a local missionary priest confirmed
the pope's concern for the increasing violence in the country.
know that Pope Francis is following every evolution (of the crisis) very
closely. Cardinal Peter Turkson was sent by the pope here in these days to us
in Juba," said Italian Comboni Father Daniele Moschetti, superior of the
Comboni Missionaries in Juba.
nearly a year, South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by
political rivalry between Vice President Riek Machar and Kiir,
who represent different ethnic groups. Violent clashes spread across the city
and left tens of thousands of people dead since the beginning of their rivalry
in December 2013.
a cease-fire is currently in effect in Juba, Father Moschetti said the threat
of violence continues to loom large over the people and the church, which
includes 350 local and international missionaries.
climate, including toward the church, is changing: We are all at risk,"
SIR reported him as saying.
Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The CriterionBy Sean GallagherINDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- Violence
ripped through the country the first part of July with police shootings in Minnesota
and Louisiana and the killing of five police officers in Dallas.
A day after the July 7 shootings
in Dallas, violence ripped through the neighborhood surrounding St. Philip Neri
Church on the near east side of Indianapolis when two men were found shot dead
at an intersection.
On July 10, about 30 people took
action to replace the violence around St. Philip with peace by prayerfully
walking through the neighborhood, stopping at a makeshift shrine at the
location where the two men had been found two days earlier.
It was part of a series of nine
prayer walks on Sunday afternoons sponsored by St. Philip Neri Parish that
began June 5 and concludes July 31. Participants gather at the church and walk
along different routes in the surrounding neighborhood for about a mile,
praying the rosary in both Spanish and English.
"Peace has to start in our own
hearts," said Father Christopher Wadelton, St. Philip's pastor. "It will then
grow out from our church to our neighborhood and the whole world."
Father Wadelton got the idea for
the prayer walks from a similar effort made by St. Gabriel Parish in
Connersville two years ago after a spate of deaths by heroin overdoses sent
shock waves through the small southeastern Indiana town.
The priest explained that the
prayer walks sponsored by St. Philip began after similar drug problems and a growth
in violent crime in the neighborhood.
He said it was important that
the prayer for peace in the neighborhood actually occur on its streets, and not
simply in the parish church.
"God's presence is here in the
streets," Father Wadelton told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of
Indianapolis. "We're not just isolated in our church building at Rural and
North streets. We're out in the streets, bringing that visible presence of
Christ to the streets."
Many of the people who joined
Father Wadelton on the prayer walk July 10 said something important was missing
from the discussions and news coverage of the shootings and increased racial
tensions across the country -- God.
St. Philip parishioner Mary
Kendall said the walk was "a way to show that God should be more important than
anything else. There needs to be an awareness of God. Anger is not the answer."
St. Philip parishioner Martha
Torres focused on prayer as a means of fostering peace.
"It's important for peace, my
life, my neighbors -- everybody," she said. "Prayer is very important. You
might not see the effect now. But I put it in Jesus' hands."
Michael O'Connor sees the
violence in the neighborhood around his parish and the nation and feels like
changing it is out of his control. That's why he turns to God.
"A lot of things in our
country are beyond our control. No matter how many training sessions they have
for police officers, how many interactive dialogues they have, there's got to
be more change of heart," O'Connor said. "Prayer can do that. That's why I come
As the people in the
prayer walk moved on from the site where the two men had been found shot dead July
8, they turned onto another street and saw several Indianapolis Metropolitan
Police Department officers standing in the parking lots of a gas station and
neighborhood grocery store.
Matt Carroll, one of
those officers, was glad to see faith-filled people walking on the streets that
had been marked by violence.
"It's inspiring," said
Carroll. "It shows that people care. They're willing to give to their community
and do their part to assist."
Father Wadelton said that
showing care and hope to people in a neighborhood suffering from so much
violence and the despair of drugs was a goal in starting the prayer walks.
"Seeing a group of people
walking and faithfully praying makes people aware that Christ is in the streets
with them," he said. "There are people who care about what's going on. It's a
strong act of peace and prayer."
- - -
Gallagher is a reporter at The
Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.