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Pope asks monasteries not to "recruit" foreign nuns to avoid closing their monastery

2016-07-22

Pope Francis updates Church standards for the monasteries of cloistered nuns. He does so with an apostolic constitution called "Seeking the face of God."

It was presented by the number two person from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican.

In the legal text, it is clear that if a monastery should experience a lack of vocations, they should not "recruit" candidates from other countries in order to ensure their continuance and survival.

MSGR. JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ CARBALLO
Secretary,  Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
"It does not mean closing the door to foreign candidates, but it means 'discerning.' When a monastery asks for vocations from other continents, one must ask: Why am I doing this? Because if it's just to keep the establishment, this is not an evangelical justification. If a nun goes to another continent, they should ask themselves: Why am I going? These two questions would clarify many things, and they are not often asked." 

Another point of the Pope's signed text is the request to the superiors to foster a "joy-filled environment of freedom and responsibility," so that religious communities can speak calmly about "what each member does, thinks and feels."

According to José Rodriguez Carballo, the news is that monasteries are invited to form a federation and collaborate with each other in the formation of new vocations or in decisions affecting its closure. This is so the religious responsible for training can also study outside the monastery for a time, to be better prepared so the legal autonomy of the monastery is strengthened and that each community decides which form of cloister it wishes to embrace.

MSGR. JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ CARBALLO
Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
"The fact that each monastery should reflect on how cloistered they want to live is a great responsibility for the monastery, and a gesture of great confidence."

The new rules are already in force, so the Vatican has asked each monastery to update its own rules based on this new law.

There are 43,500 cloistered nuns in the world in 4,000 cloisters. More than half of them live in Europe, especially throughout Spain and Italy.

The three most numerous are the Poor Clares, the Carmelites and then the Benedictines.


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