Pope Francis has warned against allowing the lower numbers of people entering Catholic religious life to influence decisions about who is healthy and able to take lifelong vows as a priest, brother or sister.
On Saturday, the pope told a meeting of an estimated 1,200 formation directors for religious orders they must be “lovingly attentive” to those they are guiding so that “the eventual crisis of quantity does not result in a much graver crisis of quality.”
“Vocational discernment is important,” Francis said.
He continued: “All the people who know the human personality — may they be psychologists, spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers — tell us that young people who unconsciously feel they have something unbalanced or some problem of mental imbalance or deviation unconsciously seek strong structures that protect them, to protect themselves.”
“There is the discernment: to know to say no,” said the pope, referring to formation directors who tell young people that religious life may not be for them.
But Francis also encouraged the directors not to “chase away” such young people.
“Like you accompany the entry, accompany also the exit, so that he or she finds their way in life, with the needed help,” he said.
Francis spoke Saturday to the participants of a meeting hosted last week by the Vatican’s religious congregation, one of several events the congregation is holding to mark the Year of Consecrated Life.
On Saturday, Francis offered thanks to the religious formation directors for their work, calling it a “humble and discrete service” that involves much listening and “time devoted to the accompaniment and taking care of each of your young people.”
Courtesy: Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reproter.
Picture: Pope Francis greets nuns and priests Saturday during a meeting with participants in an international congress organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (Courtesy: CNS/Catholic Press Photo/Massimiliano Migliorato)