Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pope Benedict: Religious Communities Threatened by Modern Culture

By Cindy WoodenCatholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY (CNS) --Reforms undertaken by religious orders aimed at ensuring deeper fidelity to the Gospel, to the church and to the poor are threatened by too many adaptations to a modern, materialistic culture, Pope Benedict XVI said.The pope met May 22 with some 1,500 superiors of women's and men's religious orders representing hundreds of thousands of priests, nuns, brothers and consecrated virgins around the world.

"To belong to the Lord: This is the mission of the men and women who have chosen to follow the chaste, poor and obedient Christ so that the world would believe and be saved," the pope told the superiors.Consecrated men and women, he said, are called to be a "credible and shining sign of the Gospel and its paradoxes," which encourage humility, self-giving and the renunciation of earthly goods for the sake of spiritual goods. The Lord wants men and women who are free, not bound, able to abandon everything to follow him and who find everything only in him," the pope said.Following the Second Vatican Council, he said, religious orders revised their constitutions and their way of life with a "more evangelical, more ecclesial and more apostolic spirit."

"But we cannot ignore that some concrete choices did not offer the world the authentic and life-giving face of Christ," the pope said.A desire to modernize and to be able to speak to contemporary men and women sometimes allowed a "secularized culture" to penetrate the minds and hearts of some religious, he said."The consequence is that, alongside an undoubtedly generous commitment capable of witnessing and of total giving, consecrated life today experiences the danger of mediocrity, adopting bourgeois values and a consumeristic mentality," Pope Benedict said.

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