These are the images of religious life that Pope Francis held up today in his speech to Korean religious orders. The LCWR just got some more gray hairs over this, as though they needed more!
I post the text of Pope Francis' speech to the Korean religious orders below my comments. In a nutshell the following is my interpretive, reading between the lines, summation of the Holy Father's words:
NO TO BACHELOR FORMS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE, THAT OF LIVING IN AN APARTMENT ALONE, OF WEARING SECULAR, WORLDLY DESIGNER CLOTHES, MAKE-UP AND JEWELRY, SUCH AS EARRINGS AND NECKLACES AND YES TO COMMUNITY LIFE, VISIBLE HABITS AND A JOYFUL EMBRACE OF POVERTY, CHASTITY AND OBEDIENCE!
These are the Holy Father's exact words which I paraphrased above: "The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and
women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the
souls of the faithful and harms the Church. Think, too, of how dangerous
a temptation it is to adopt a purely functional, worldly mentality
which leads to placing our hope in human means alone and destroys the
witness of poverty which our Lord Jesus Christ lived and taught us."
As many of us know, some religious orders, especially that of the LCWR ilk have reinterpreted or "re-imagined" as they like to say, the vow of obedience to mean just about the opposite of what the Church teaches this vow means for individual religious and the orders to which they belong. These groups believe their purpose is to be a pararell magisterium opposed to the Pope and bishops of the Church, especially what they like to call "patriarchy." Basically these groups are men-haters.
Here is the Holy Father's complete speech with my "bold" highlighting of the most important:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet you all with affection in the Lord. It is good to be with you
today and to share these moments of communion. The great variety of
charisms and apostolates which you represent wondrously enriches the
life of the Church in Korea and beyond. In this setting of the
celebration of Vespers where we have sung the praise of God’s infinite
goodness and mercy, I thank you, and all of your brothers and sisters,
for your efforts to build up God’s Kingdom in this beloved country. I
thank Father Hwang Seok-mo and Sister Scholastica Lee Kwang-ok, the
Presidents of the Korean Conferences of Major Superiors of Men’s and
Women’s Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, for their
kind words of welcome.
The words of the Psalm, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the
strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26), invite us to
think about our own lives. The Psalmist exudes joyful confidence in God.
We all know that while joy is not expressed the same way at all times
in life, especially at moments of great difficulty, “it always endures,
even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when
everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii
The firm conviction of being loved by God is at the center
of your vocation: to be for others a tangible sign of the presence of
God’s Kingdom, a foretaste of the eternal joys of heaven. Only if our
witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ. And this joy
is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word
of God, the celebration of the sacraments and life in community. When
these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the
joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey.
For you, as men and women consecrated to God, this joy is rooted in
the mystery of the Father’s mercy revealed in Christ’s sacrifice on the
cross. Whether the charism of your Institute is directed more to
contemplation or to the active life, you are challenged to become
“experts” in divine mercy precisely through your life in community. From
experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a
providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to
expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced.
Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to
grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity.
The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community,
must shape all that you are, all that you do. Your chastity, poverty and
obedience will be a joyful witness to God’s love in the measure that
you stand firmly on the rock of his mercy. This is certainly the case
with religious obedience. Mature and generous obedience requires that
you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned
obedience through what he suffered (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 14). There
are no shortcuts: God desires our hearts completely and this means we
have to “let go” and “go out” of ourselves more and more.
A lively experience of the Lord’s steadfast mercy also sustains the
desire to achieve that perfection of charity which is born of purity of
heart. Chastity expresses your single-minded dedication to the love of
God who is “the strength of our hearts”. We all know what a personal and
demanding commitment this entails. Temptations in this area call for
humble trust in God, vigilance and perseverance.
Through the evangelical counsel of poverty you are able to recognize
God’s mercy not only as a source of strength, but also as a treasure.
Even when we are weary, we can offer him our hearts burdened by sin and
weakness; at those times when we feel most helpless, we can reach out to
Christ, “who made himself poor in order that we might become rich” (cf.
2 Cor 8:9). This fundamental need of ours to be forgiven and healed is
itself a form of poverty which we must never lose sight of, no matter
how many advances we make in virtue. It should also find concrete
expression in your lifestyle, both as individuals and as communities. I
think in particular of the need to avoid all those things which can
distract you and cause bewilderment and scandal to others. In the
consecrated life, poverty is both a “wall” and a “mother”. It is a
“wall” because it protects the consecrated life, a “mother” because it
helps it to grow and guides it along the right path. The hypocrisy of
those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live
like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the Church.
Think, too, of how dangerous a temptation it is to adopt a purely
functional, worldly mentality which leads to placing our hope in human
means alone and destroys the witness of poverty which our Lord Jesus
Christ lived and taught us.
Dear brothers and sisters, with great humility, do all that you can
to show that the consecrated life is a precious gift to the Church and
to the world. Do not keep it to yourselves; share it, bringing Christ to
every corner of this beloved country. Let your joy continue to find
expression in your efforts to attract and nurture vocations, and
recognize that all of you have some part in forming the consecrated men
and women of tomorrow. Whether you are given more to contemplation or to
the apostolic life, be zealous in your love of the Church in Korea and
your desire to contribute, through your own specific charism, to its
mission of proclaiming the Gospel and building up God’s people in unity,
holiness and love.
Commending all of you, and in a special way the aged and infirm
members of your communities, to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the
Church, I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of enduring grace and
peace in Jesus her Son.