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Special Vatican meeting discussed problems of religious life

June 14, 2011

At a special June 13 meeting convened by Pope Benedict XVI, the leaders of the Roman Curia discussed several concerns about religious life, according to the leading Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli.

Tornielli—who has been consistently accurate in his reports on the inner workings of the Vatican—says that the topics discussed during the meeting included the importance of maintaining separation between men’s and women’s religious communities; the limits of lay leadership (especially over priests); and the pitfalls of excessive devotion to the founder of a religious congregation or to an apostolic movement. In discussing the excesses that should be avoided in religious communities, the dicastery leaders reportedly emphasized that the commitment to a religious congregation or movement should never work against the unity of the universal Church, the authority of the teaching magisterium, or the conscience of the individual member.

The conversation on this point appears to reflect the painful lessons learned from the crisis within the Legion of Christ. In addition to encouraging adulation of their founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Legionaries also followed a rigid system of discipline that included a rigorous ban on any criticism of a superior.


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