Pope warns against accepting unbalanced people into orders

Pope Francis has warned religious orders against letting low numbers of new vocations influence whom they accept into religious life.

The Pope was speaking to a conference of religious formation directors in Rome on Saturday.

He told the 1200 directors that they must be “gravely attentive” to those they are guiding.

This is so that “the eventual crisis of quantity does not result in a much graver crisis of quality”.

“Vocational discernment is important,” Francis said, according to an article in the National Catholic Reporter.

He continued: “All the people who know the human personality – may they be psychologists, spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers – tell us that young people who unconsciously feel they have something unbalanced or some problem of mental imbalance or deviation unconsciously seek strong structures that protect them, to protect themselves.”

“There is the discernment: to know to say no,” said the Pope, referring to formation directors who tell young people that religious life may not be for them.

But Francis also encouraged the directors not to “chase away” such young people.

“Like you accompany the entry, accompany also the exit, so that he or she finds their way in life, with the needed help,” he said.

Pope Francis said it is sad when a young person who has been considering religious life chooses another path, and “this is hard.”

“But it is also your martyrdom,” he told the directors.

“And the failures, these failures from the point of view of the formation director, can foster the continuing path of formation in the director.”

“Some say that the consecrated life is paradise on Earth,” the Pope joked.

“No. If anything, [it is] the purgatory! But go forward with joy, go forward with joy.”

In a report last year, the Vatican stated that the higher numbers of people in religious life in the United States in the 1960s was an historical aberration.


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