Pope Francis calls upon Catholic women religious, whose members live in cloistered communities, to a greater engagement with the world.
Vatican City (KNA) Pope Francis calls upon Catholic women religious, whose members live in cloistered communities, to greater engagement with the world. The life of prayer and contemplation should not be lived as a "retreat into itself," but must "embrace all mankind", according to a papal decree, which the Vatican published on Friday. The nuns should pray for prisoners, refugees, the persecuted and unemployed, so Francis. At the same time the Pope recognizes the indispensability of contemplative religious. They are a prophetic sign for all Christians.
Among the most famous contemplative women religious are the Carmelites or Poor Clares. They live strictly shielded from the outside world in their monasteries, which they may leave only exceptionally. Canon law recognizes four different forms of strict cloisters. Contemplative female orders will in future decide on one of four forms of cloister. According to the decree, there can be varying decrees within an order.
The so-called Apostolic Constitution of Francis bears the Latin title "Vultum Dei Quaerere - The Search for the Face of God". With the letter he wanted to take into account the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the face of a changing social and cultural context, the Pope explains. The last such piece of legislation dates back to the 1950s.
Francis is attempting with the decree to reverse the loss of members at any price. "The recruiting of candidates from other countries with the sole purpose of establishing their own monastery should be absolutely avoided," it says in the text.
In the comprehensive 35-page letter (Italian version), the Pope deals with twelve points of religious life. Besides the cloister there is training, prayer, the role of the biblical texts, the Eucharist and Confession, community life, autonomy, work, silence, communication and asceticism. Contemplative woman orders will in future decide on one of four forms of cloister accordingly.
Francis emphasized the autonomy of the monasteries. It should be not only a canonical status; moreover, a "true autonomy of life" is necessary. A condition for this is a minimum number of nuns in a convent. Other conditions are that there is no aging populations and the dignity of liturgical life as well as ensuring the ability to economic survival. Otherwise, solutions will be sought in regard to the monasteries in question according to which the Pope will commission representatives of the local Church, the Vatican and the Order. At the same time, the Pope states that in future each monastery must belong to
an association, or a federation.
All previous Church legislation or previous decisions on religious life contrary to the new decree, Francis has abolished.