Rome: Drop in Carmelite Vocations, Pope Francis Insists Against “Defensive Strategies”

Source: FSSPX News

A Carmelite church and convent in Cuenca, in Spain

From April 14 to 20, 2024, the superiors and delegates of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the whole world met at the Ad Gentes House of the Verbite Missionaries in Nemi (Italy), to work on revising their Constitutions. Pope Francis received them in audience on April 18.

As a matter of fact, the order finds itself facing a drop in vocations, and it is forced to make painful choices about closing convents. The reflection on the new constitutions aims in particular to harmonize the rules related to the suppression and merging of communities.

In front of the nuns, the Pope expressed concern about seeing “defensive strategies” emerge in the face of new situations. “Defensive strategies are often the fruit of a nostalgic longing for the past – that does not work, nostalgia does not work –” he emphasized.

“[W]hereas evangelical hope grants us joy in contemplating our history up to the present, but also empowers us to look ahead to the future with those roots that we have received. And that is called preserving the charism, the dream of moving forward, and that really works,” Francis insisted.—In other words: the joy of running straight into the wall of lost vocations, without a nostalgic return to the past!

“Evangelical hope differs from illusions based on human calculations,” highlighted the Pope. He said that “It entails surrendering ourselves to God, learning to read the signs he gives us to discern the future, having courage to make certain bold and risky decisions, even without knowing where they will eventually lead.”

Pope Francis continued, “Above all, it means not thinking only in human and defensive terms when reflecting on whether to preserve or close a monastery, on structures of community life, on vocations.”

The congregation includes around 10,000 Discalced Carmelite nuns and 4,000 Discalced Carmelite friars. The term “discalced” means that, as a sign of austerity, the religious remain barefoot in sandals.