Pope warns gossiping priests, nuns to 'bite your tongue"
AFPVatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis told gossip-loving priests and nuns to bite their tongues on Monday, and warned those breaking their vow of obedience to fall into line sharpish. "If you get an urge to say something against a brother or a sister, to drop a gossip bomb, bite your tongue! Hard!" the pontiff said in an improvised speech to members of the clergy marking the end of the Year of Consecrated Life.
The Argentine warned against those abusing their religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, describing "anarchy" as the "daughter of the devil". And he bemoaned a drop in the number of people signing up for a religious life, but warned against taking just anyone.
"Why is the womb of consecrated live becoming so sterile?" he asked. "Some congregations experiment with 'artificial insemination'. What do they do? They welcome... 'Yes come, come, come'. And then there are problems," he said. "No. We must be serious about who we take. We must clearly distinguish if it is a real vocation, and help it to grow." The number of priests and nuns in industrialised countries is in sharp decline, though the Church still counts 693,000 nuns around the world and 55,000 priests.
My Comments: The elephant in the room is the excesses too many religious orders took when they were "renewing" themselves in the 1960's and 70's. They became a mere shadow of themselves and so many left disillusioned by the changes. The ones who stayed became invisible. The ones today simply want a nice retirement. The key to recovery of religious life is to go back to what worked but make things a bit more flexible and human. The successful religious orders who actually want new vocations from the pool of healthy candidates there are, are the ones like the various traditional Dominican Orders of women and men, the Nashville variety for women and the New York Province for men. Once again I have to reflect upon the Nun's Story. What attracted so many women to this way of life as it was practiced prior to Vatican II? It was serious, austere and the way to spiritual and moral perfection. It was rigorous and it was respected because of its seriousness and rigors and the good work that the nuns did. In a way, women's religious orders of yesteryear are like the specialized military units of today which are attracting women too. There are women marines, seals and Green berets not to mention the more rigorous units in the army. It is tough and no one cries out that it is too tough unlike the religious reformers of the 60's who did and softened the discipline and lost the vocations. Not even artificial insemination will bring numbers to religious life that has lost its way, its visible habit and the rigors of spiritual and moral perfection!