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Religious life in crisis, say superiors

Commitment and class differences are major challenges

Religious attending the meeting in Hyderabad Religious attending the meeting in Hyderabad
  • Ivan Fernandes, Hyderabad
  • India
  • October 30, 2012
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The life of priests, nuns and brothers in consecrated life is passing through a crisis of commitment but this is just one among a wide range of pressing concerns, say religious superiors attending a national meeting of the Conference of Religious India (CRI).

About 550 Superiors General and provincials of various congregations are meeting October 28-31 in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh state, for their triennial assembly, which is focused on innovations to give the consecrated life greater effectiveness.

Delegates today spoke about the dwindling number of congregation entrants as well as the number of departures.

“The life of Religious is passing through a crisis of identity and commitment,” said Bambina Sr. Matilda Monteiro, adding “individualism has made members fragile.”

She also pointed out that one of the challenges Religious face is making their charism as relevant as it was for their founders as members “are not being up to the mark” in living out their charism.

Others spoke about finding it a challenge to combine spiritual wisdom with insights from human sciences and rebalancing a lopsided formation between fostering spirituality and developing skills.

Lack of media awareness among Religious and how to contact and communicate with media persons was another concern they face. This was a priority because of the fast pace of new interactive media, they said.

Superiors also pointed out the need for inter-congregational collaboration and networking. “What can be done together should not be done alone,” said Montfort Br. Mani Mekkunnel.

A concern was also raised that there are “unbreakable class walls” in India, not only among members within congregations but also among congregations themselves.

Jesuit Fr. Francis Serrao proposed that all – individuals and groups -- make an effort to “convert walls to bridges” to be faithful to their religious vocation.

Another concern was the often uncongenial relations Religious faced in their dealing with bishops. Much of this concerned land and property owned and administered especially by women Religious that were often arbitrarily appropriated by bishops.

The way to deal with this was to ensure proper, written and legal agreements between Religious congregations and bishops. Delegates also proposed that religious superiors know and understand the rights given to them by canon and civil law.

The CRI has a total of 334 congregations and 822 major superiors representing more than 125,000 Catholic brothers, priests and nuns in India. Most of the schools, hospitals, social service centers and other institutions of the Catholic Church are managed by this group.

Related reports:

CRI kicks off meeting with innovation call
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