Monday, October 29, 2012

Religious vows should be rethought

Superiors should ensure innovations in mission, decision making and lifestyle so as to be faithful to their Religious calling, was the main theme of talks during the first day of the Conference of Religious India (CRI) national meeting.

About 550 Superiors General and provincials of various congregations are meeting Oct 28-31 in Hyderabad for their triennial assembly. 


The delegates are deliberating on innovations to give consecrated life greater effectiveness. Approximately 80 percent of those attending are women.

“Mission ought to shape Religious life and not the other way around,” said Montfort Brother Varghese Thechanath during his talk on innovation in mission.

Move away from Religious-shaped mission life to a mission-shaped Religious life, he told the superiors present.

Brother Thechanath also called on them to dictate the shape of the Church and Religious life by bringing about a “refounding of Religious life as mission.”

He pointed out that it becomes necessary to “move from evolutionary innovations to revolutionary innovations” since innovation is the process by which an idea is translated into a service.

On the other hand, Holy Spirit Sister Elsie urged Religious superiors present to opt for “communal discernment and consensus building in decision making” so as to bring about a more authentic life worthy of their calling.

In order that this is done she provided the gathering with a strategy where faith sharing by individuals was the basis for all proper decisions so that those in leadership might arrive at the truth without blame or regret.

This must also take into consideration individual preferences so that Religious superiors in particular would be open to the outcome of arrived decisions.

“Pray also to be delivered from the temptation of yearnings for the great leaders of the past and even of a positive outcome,” Sister Elsie said.

Such a disposition will tend to bring about a communal discernment whereby ideas of divergence give way to ideas of convergence.

She pointed out that respecting differences, equal access to information and integrity of dialogue must not be the prerogative of only Religious superiors and must be the means for all major concerns to be communicated.

Do away with the tyranny of the majority or minority and listen to everyone she said. This might very well give way to a new way of religious life that is both theoretically sound and practical was her opinion.

Claritian Father Xavier Manavath in his talk about innovations in lifestyle of Religious, called on the superiors to re-mission things so as to be visionaries.

He pointed out that historically speaking innovations is not new to Religious life and that innovations was continual as seen through various periods and situations were Religious brought about change in the way “we live our lives and organize ourselves.”

He however warned that innovations should be a process in creative fidelity and not be only for newness in lifestyle. This said, there should be a need to revision current ways and traditions by opening up new horizons, he added.

He said that Religious leadership must “rethink and reground Religious values” as past values and behaviours may have been based on erroneous assumptions.

That is why the Religious vows of chastity, obedience and poverty should be “rethought and based on contemporary scholarship and new worldviews” as “some current structures and traditions may be to ill for meaningful and relevant existence today.”

In order that they live a more authentic life, Religious must be ready to “break the moulds as authentic values can be reinterpreted to current contexts in a variety of forms.”

The CRI has a total of 334 congregations and 822 major superiors. It represents more than 125,000 Catholic brothers, priests and nuns in India. Most of the schools, hospitals, social service centers and other institutions of the Catholic Church in India are managed by this group.

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