Vatican releases document underlining importance of religious brothers

Franciscan Brother Juan Turios of Action Network prays in 2013 with immigration reform advocates in Washington (CNS)

In the past 50 years, the number of religious brothers has decreased drastically

To help appreciate and better promote the vocation of religious brothers, the Vatican has released a 50-page reflection on the importance of their life and mission of evangelisation, fraternity and sacrifice.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church” in five languages on Monday as a guide for the whole Church.

Benedict XVI asked the congregation in 2008 to draft an instruction in order to underline the importance of the vocation of lay brothers, especially given “the challenges they must face” in today’s world, said Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation. He spoke at a Vatican news conference presenting the document on Monday.

At the time, the former prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Franc Rode, had said the steep decline in the numbers of religious brothers was a clear sign “something must be done.”

“We think one of the reasons for the decline in these vocations is due to a certain lack of attention on the part of the Church” to brothers, who are mentioned only in passing in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and Vatican documents published later, he told Vatican Radio in 2010.

While the numbers of religious in every category have dropped in the past 50 years, the number of religious brothers decreased most drastically. For example, the Christian Brothers had 16,000 members in 1965 and have fewer than 5,000 today.

The number of religious brothers around the world totalled more than 55,250 at the end of 2013, according to recent Vatican statistics. However, the total number of priests — diocesan and religious order — around the world was nearly 415,350, with a steady increase in diocesan priests in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and a continued decline in Europe.

Archbishop Rodriguez said the document is meant to highlight “the richness and necessity of all the vocations in the Church, especially the vocation of lay religious life for men and women.”

He said it was hoped the reflection would help all members of the Church become more aware and better appreciate the service and gifts of religious brothers, and help encourage and guide them in living their vocation “with authenticity and joy.”

The instruction underlines the importance of serving like the Good Shepherd in order to make Christ present in the world and to enlighten, bless, raise up, heal and free humanity.

So many people are experiencing a “thirst for spirituality,” it said, and religious brothers, especially those living in monastic or contemplative communities, should offer themselves as guides for those seeking deeper meaning, inviting people to prayer, reading Scripture and bridging faith and culture.

The text urged religious brothers to see no human situation as “alien” to their presence. Whether they engage in manual labor, defend human rights, teach, work in health care or serve in other ways, religious brothers must accept God’s invitation to go to the world’s peripheries and lead people to salvation.

“Today more than ever, the world needs consecrated persons who, from the heart of secular realities and of human life itself, bear witness to knowing and loving the God of life.”

The document said religious brothers can be the “prophets for our time” which is witnessing “great social change.”

What is needed, it said, is “the prophesy of hospitality,” in which all people are welcomed; a “prophesy of the meaning of life” that helps people discover the essential; a “prophesy of the affirmation of feminine values,” which supports and appreciates the presence and vision of women; “the prophesy of the care and protection of life” and creation; and “the prophesy of the wise use of new technologies,” which is attentive to letting information and communication benefit those who are disadvantaged.

The document called for improving relationships and a sense of “equal dignity” in so-called “mixed” religious institutes whose members include lay brothers and religious priests. It said priests and the Church hierarchy should promote and better appreciate the vocation of lay brothers and sisters, ensuring they can “participate actively in the organs of consultation, decision-making and implementation within the local Church.”

Archbishop Rodriguez said his congregation will ask Pope Francis to establish an ad hoc commission to look into the role of religious brothers in mixed or clerical institutes and their “participation in local, provincial and general governance” and administration.

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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One Response to Vatican releases document underlining importance of religious brothers

  1. There is only ONE way to solve all the problems of rot / corruption and indifference in our Church
    ABOLISH this breed of Secular / Diocesan clergy — If these persons REALLY want to devote their lives to SERVICE and NOT TO FEATHERING THEIR OWN NESTS — they must be willing to SWEAR / TAKE the VOW of POVERTY
    Till these vermin are not removed from our clergy — nothing will improve !!!
    Presently this breed are the most in numbers — and are in a position to influence decisions and sway opinions in their favour —
    Weirdly after so many years along comes a simple man — a JESUIT religious priest — and he is elected as POPE FRANCIS — He is everything that is completely opposite to all that these rotten
    ” PRINCES of the Church ” — Is this not a DIRECT ACT OF GOD ??? — where a simple man — without GUCCI shoes is chosen to lead us ???? GOD surely must have realized that the TIME HAS COME to STEM THE ROT

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