If this criticism had come from the Prefect of the Clergy in the 1960s, and had it been enforced by the supreme pontiff with penalties for the non serviam milquetoast phalanx, then the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Franc Rodé, would not be finding it necessary, fifty years after religious houses and seminaries were first unhinged from all that is sacred, to be unloading his indignation at this present time, when what’s left of religious life is scarcely alive anywhere, except perhaps in some of the new traditional (pardon the oxymoron but it works) congregations and institutes. All respect to the zealous cardinal, but when inspecting the fruit, look to the source of the corrupted produce, if you want to apply a cure. There is no discipline in religious life because there is no Faith. If one can be saved believing in whatever one wants to believe in, or not believe in, then where’s the motive to strive for spiritual greatness? It’s as if our Lord never warned His Church about the “way to destruction” and the “way to life,” one being “wide,” the other “narrow.” I remember in the late sixties visiting a Franciscan house in Boston. There was plenty of booze and a TV in every room. That soft indulgence was a symptom of a deeper disease. If one can be saved outside the Church, why not?
Here are some relevant clips from the Catholic News Agency article:
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2008 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- A top Vatican cardinal complained on Thursday that members of Catholic religious congregations are perceived as worldlier, less obedient and increasingly reluctant to wear a cassock due to the influence of secular values.
Absorbing the values of western society, many religious are also less and less interested in prayer and community living and more interested in personal freedom, said Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said in a conversation with ANSA (Italian News Agency).
“A drift towards bourgeois values and moral relativism are the two great dangers that weaken religious life,” said Rodé, who heads the Vatican Dicastery which is in charge of monks, nuns and priests not attached to parishes.
“The biggest problem today is the climate of secularization present not only in western society but also within the Church itself,” he said. Without citing any names or specific episodes, Rodé listed a number of ways in which this change was visible among priests and members of religious communities.
They were: “Freedom without constraints, a weak sense of the family, a worldly spirit, low visibility of religious clothing, a devaluation of prayer, insufficient community life and a weak sense of obedience”.