Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pope Exhorts Religious Orders: Rediscover Original Mission

Vatican, Feb. 19, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has reported signs of a "providential reawakening" in religious life, in an address to leaders of the International Union of Superiors General.

Acknowledging a "difficult crisis" in many religious orders, the Holy Father said that the major features of that crisis include a drop in vocations and "a spiritual and charismatic weariness." The best response to this crisis, he said, has been shown by those orders that have "chosen o return to the origins and live in a way more in keeping with the spirit of the founder."

A fresh commitment to their original charisms has given many religious communities "a promising new ascetic, apostolic, and missionary impulse," the Pope said. He urged the same approach for all religious orders. "We are all aware how, in modern globalized society, it is becoming ever more difficult to announce and bear witness to the Gospel," the Pontiff told the religious leaders. "The process of secularization which is advancing in contemporary culture does not, unfortunately, spare even religious communities."

However, he said, "the Holy Spirit blows powerfully throughout the Church, creating a new commitment to faithfulness, both in the historical institutes and, at the same time, in new forms of religious consecration that reflect the needs of the times." Today, he said, the main mark of energetic religious orders, old and new, are "a radical form of evangelical poverty, faithful love of the Church, and generous dedication to the needy-- with particular attention to that spiritual poverty which so markedly characterizes the modern age."

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