VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Aging or declining membership should prompt members of religious orders to ask, “What do we do?” but not to despair, Pope Francis said.
Numbers are a real challenge, but “those who get caught up in pessimism put faith aside,” the pope told students and staff of the Claretian Institute of the Theology of Consecrated Life in Rome and its affiliated programs in the Philippines, India, Colombia and Nigeria.
“It is the Lord of history who sustains us and invites us to faithfulness and fruitfulness,” the pope insisted Nov. 7. “He takes care of his ‘remnant,’ looks with mercy and benevolence on his work, and continues to send his Holy Spirit.”
Pope Francis was helping the students and staff celebrate the 50th anniversary of the institute, which specializes in theology, spirituality and canon law specifically for and regarding religious orders.
“The more we approach religious life through the Word of God and the history and the creativity of the founders,” the pope said, “the more we are able to live the future with hope.”
The pope, a Jesuit, told the group that “religious life is understood only by what the Spirit does in each of the people called. There are those who focus too much on the external — the structures, the activities — and lose sight of the superabundance of grace that there is in the people and the communities.”
With most religious orders having elderly members, Pope Francis also used his speech to the institute to plead with religious communities to make sure that older members are not sent off to a home where they have no contact with younger members — “this is a crime,” he said.
“The young need to spend time with the elderly, talk with them and the elderly members need to be with the young,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103