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Curial official: over 3,000 religious leave consecrated life each year

October 30, 2013

The secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said in an October 29 address that over 3,000 men and women religious leave the consecrated life each year.

In the address – a portion of which was reprinted in L’Osservatore Romano – Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo said that statistics from his Congregation, as well as the Congregation for the Clergy, indicate that over the past five years, 2,624 religious have left the religious life annually. When one takes into account additional cases handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the number tops 3,000.

The prelate, who led the Order of Friars Minor from 2003 until his April 2013 curial appointment, said that the majority of cases occur at a “relatively young age.” The causes, he said, include “absence of spiritual life,” “loss of a sense of community,” and a “loss of sense of belonging to the Church” – a loss manifest in dissent from Catholic teaching on “women priests and sexual morality.”

Other causes include “affective problems,” including heterosexual relationships that continue into marriage and homosexual relationships, which are “most obvious in men, but also present, more often than you think, between women.”

The world, the prelate continued, is undergoing profound changes from modernity to postmodernity – from fixed reference points to uncertainty, doubt, and insecurity. In a market-oriented world, “everything is measured and evaluated according to the utility and profitability, even people.” It is “a world where everything is soft,” where “there is no place for sacrifice, nor for renunciation.”

In a culture of neo-individualism and subjectivism, he added, “the individual is the measure of everything,” and people feel “unique in excellence.” “Modern man talks a lot” but “cannot communicate in depth.”

The solution, he said, is a renewed attention to the centrality the Triune God in religious life, which in turn “brings with it the gift of oneself to others.” There must be a clear emphasis on the “radical nature of the Gospel,” rather than the “number of members or the maintenance of works.”


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  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2013 9:16 AM ET USA

    Archbp. Carballo's last comment says it all: it is the "radical nature of the Gospel" that is the message and mission of our Church. If we don't communicate that, what's the point of our baptism? Fortunately, Carballo is not blind to reality and perceives the threat not only to the Church but to humanity at large. Thank you, Elizabeth D, for handing on the wake-up call! I would add that we need better formation in bishops and priests on how to handle opposition.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 30, 2013 4:05 PM ET USA

    It's past time for some radical changes. What we are doing now is producing nothing but an expensive failure. ElizabethD (another comment here) seems to know what she is talking about. Let's listen to women like her.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Oct. 30, 2013 10:11 AM ET USA

    I wonder if he has looked at my recent book that I sent recently to his dicastery, which gives detailed examples of much of what he says. I am happy to hear the things he is saying, it sounds like he understands. The need for better formation and orthodox information (catechesis in all stages of religious life) is acute, as is return to traditional features of religious life like living in community