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For religious orders, survival is not enough, Pope says

February 02, 2017

Celebrating Mass on February 2 for the World Day for Consecrated Life, Pope Francis warned religious against the “temptation of survival”—a tendency to retrench rather than bearing prophetic witness.

Established in 1997 by St. John Paul II, the World Day for Consecrated Life is observed on the feast of the Presentation. At Mass in St. Peter’s basilica, Pope Francis encouraged the religious in attendance to learn from the day’s Gospel, and the example set by Simeon and Anna in the Temple. These two prayerful witnesses of the Presentation, he said, represent the faithful who cherish the dreams of their ancestors, waiting for the Messiah. The Pope said that religious, too, should hold fast to the dreams of past generations.

That attitude, the Pope continued, “will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival.” He went on:

An evil that can gradually take root within us and within our communities. The mentality of survival makes us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions. It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today.

Consecrated religious, the Pope said, should be bold in proclaiming the Gospel—“not on the defensive or motivated by fear, but with our hands to the plow.”


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  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Feb. 02, 2017 6:26 PM ET USA

    It does not seem like his diagnosis of religious life's ills has changed since the 1960s, since this was the prevailing way of speaking then. To state the obvious, "reactionaries" is a smear term specifically associated with marxism. Why use this language? Doesn't it make it painfully easy for Francis' critiques of backward-looking, change-resistant religious with "preconceived notions" to be dismissed as essentially marxist and thus ideologically hostile rather than friendly and constructive?