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“Investing in quantity over quality of vocations would be fatal to contemplative life”

Nov. 21 is “Pro Orantibus Day.” The Church will pray for people who devote themselves to contemplative life in monasteries. That day, the Vatican will publish a new document dedicated to them.

Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life

“We will present the new document made for them, the “Ratio Formationis.” It is the first document encompassing all forms of consecrated life. It is called 'The art of searching for God's face. Guidelines for contemplatives.'”

In recent years, the Catholic Church has seen a decrease in the number of vocations to religious life. The statistics refer to both contemplative life and religious life in general.

The latest Fides report shows that in 2017, the number of religious men, not including priests, decreased by 2.07 percent; and the number of religious women by 1.05 percent. 

The congregation has been working on this issue for a while. According to Carballo, the problem does not affect only celibate life. He explains the congregation will publish an additional document with guidelines to face this situation.

Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life

“The document has been thoroughly studied. Many people have collaborated on fidelity and perseverance, touching on the topic of abandoning religious life. . The existential crisis is global, with repercussions in all aspects of society. For example, even the family suffers, as seen in the alarming decrease in the number of marriages.”

José Rodriguez Carballo notes that the decrease in the number of religious is a reality that cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, he also warns against falling to “the temptation of numbers.” He says we must invest in quality over quantity.

Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life

“The important thing in this moment is we work on the ''significance' and we don't give in to the temptation of the number. If the Lord gives us quantity while maintaining quality, blessed be the Lord. However, if to obtain more numbers we lose quality, then this would be fatal for consecrated and contemplative life.”

The perseverance of the religious and the update of certain guidelines on contemplative life are not the only areas of religious life on which the Vatican is working.

They are also investing in the formation of leaders of religious congregations in areas like the management of the patrimony.

Italy and Spain are the two countries with the highest presence of contemplative life. However, they also have the highest number of convents close each year. One of the objectives of the congregation is to form abbots and treasurers so they can leave these buildings in good hands. That way they will retain their sacred nature.