One of the strangest features of the decline in Religious life in many areas of the Western Church – at least to those who are strangers to the study of social pathology – is the tendency of its representatives to deny that anything is wrong at all. The facts, however speak for themselves in that those Orders and communities which actually ing and recruit -in the United States, France and elsewhere – have taken precisely the opposite road from the kind of “renewal” Carey describes. They are brotherhoods or sisterhood (or in some cases double communities) where the heart of Religious life is taken be the invitation to love God with peculiar directness; where a classical identity based on the historic sources and norms of monastic and Religious lie is explicitly and unembarrassedly maintained; where a strong community life pertains, complete with common ritual practice, and where consecration (simply being a Religious) is prized as well as mission (what a Religious does).
That was written 10 years ago in “Christendom Awake” by Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P. and it is perfectly said and quite apt in consideration of the reaction to the Apostolic Visitation of American women’s religious orders.
There have been so many denials of anything being wrong from these struggling orders and the usual suspects of National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, America Magazine, and the statement issued by California bishops. How this happened shows a fail of leadership on almost every level. The Orders themselves let it happen or joined in, the local Bishops turned a blind eye, till it was left to the Holy See to finally respond long after much of the destruction had ever occurred.
The denials of there being a problem in the first place remind me of a couple of things. First the Black Knight scene in Monty Pythons Holy Grail where the Knight has all his limbs hacked off only to in the end admitting to a draw. That scene is a comedic masterpiece, but what happened to religious life in so many areas is not funny at all. The loss of so many religious is certainly akin to having all your limbs removed and those that stayed decided to enable even more flesh wounds.
It also reminds me of Baghdad Bob’s assertions “We have them surrounded in their tanks” and “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!” This is no different than all the whines about the Apostolic Visitation and framing it as a persecution or new inquisition. Rampant dissent with orders following a phony feminism and worship of creation without a mention of the creator. A social justice mission that is not a whit different than what is done by a county social worker.
For them the cure is worse than the disease. They can hardly fail to actually see the lessons of the vibrant religious orders that are faithful to the Church. Or maybe they see the growing of these Orders as some kind of punishment from God for their orthodoxy. They started by jettisoning the habit, but they did not stop there and jettisoned much of their faith. The path to repentance begins with the acknowledgement that we have sinned. These Black Knight denials are so very sad because of this.