Pope Francis today spoke to the Plenary Session of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
world ruled by a culture of the transient and money, consecrated
persons should shy away from the "logic of worldliness" and instead
"maintain the freshness and novelty of the centrality of Jesus,”
something to offer to young people.
Francis pointed out that consecrated people must maintain fidelity
even when it is tested. He noted that statistics show that the Church is
“haemorrhaging”, which is weakening consecrated life and the Church
herself. Given the number of dropouts, there is every reason to be very
concerned, and to wonder why it is happening.
First, he said, there are the factors that "affect fidelity in this
era of change”. Indeed, “We live immersed in the so-called culture of
the fragment, the provisional, which can lead to living 'a la carte' and
be slaves to trends. This culture induces the need to have ‘side doors’
always open to other possibilities; it feeds consumerism and forgets
the beauty of a simple and austere life, and in many cases causes an
This “also produces a powerful practical relativism, according to
which everything is judged in terms of a self-realisation that is often
extraneous to the values of the Gospel."
"We live,” he added, “in a society where economic rules replace those
of morality; laws that dictate and impose their own frames of reference
at the expense of the values of life; a society where the dictatorship
of money and profit proposes a vision of existence in which those who do
not contribute to it are discarded."
In this situation, "it is clear
that we must first be evangelised and then engage in evangelisation.”
Francis then turned his thoughts to "the world of youth, complex but
at the same time rich and challenging”. For him, "there are many
wonderful young people. Yet, even among young people, many are the
victims of the logic of worldliness, which can be summarised as the
quest for success at any price, for easy money and for easy pleasure.”
“This logic seduces many young people as well. We must commit
ourselves to stand by them so as to infect them with the joy of the
Gospel and [a sense of] affiliation with Christ. This culture must be
evangelised if we do not want young people to succumb."
The Holy father noted a third negative factor that comes "from within
the consecrated life itself, where alongside great holiness", there are
"situations of counter-witness that make fidelity hard to uphold.”
These include "routine, fatigue, heavy bureaucratic structures,
internal divisions, the quest for power [. . .], parvenus, [. . .] a
worldly manner of running institutions, a service by authorities that
sometimes becomes authoritarianism and other times is laissez-faire."
Yet, "If the consecrated life wants to maintain its prophetic mission
and appeal, continuing to be a school of faithfulness for those near
and those afar (cf. Eph 2:17), it must maintain the freshness
and novelty of the centrality of Jesus, its spiritual attractiveness,
and the strength of mission” as well as “show the beauty of following
Christ and radiate hope and joy. [. . .] When hope is missing, there is
no joy, and things are ugly."
Francis went on to stress that we must "especially take care" of
"fraternal life in community." This "must be nurtured by community
prayer", and "active participation in the sacraments", as well as "mercy
towards brothers or sisters who sin, and share responsibilities."
All this must be "accompanied by an eloquent and joyful witness of
simple life alongside the poor and a mission that privileges existential
peripheries." At the same time, we must defend themselves "from trends
and the culture of the ephemeral" and continue "to walk firm in the
"This means that we too must keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, always
careful to walk according to the logic of the Gospel and not succumb to
worldly criteria. Many times, great infidelities take small detours or
distractions. In this case too, it is important to make our own Saint
Paul’s exhortation: "it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep' (Rom 13:11).”
The pontiff ended his address emphasising the importance of
accompaniment. It is necessary, he warned, that "the consecrated life
invests in training qualified guides to this ministry."
Such accompaniment should "not create dependency," but it has to help
This, he noted, is not solved only by "choosing between
good and evil, but between good and better, between what is good and
what leads to identification with Christ."