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Now The Vatican Goes After The Contemplatives Nuns - By Father Bruno-Philip Penguine

“For there is no born Turk so cruel to Christian folk as is the false Christian that falleth from the faith – we shall stand in peril, if we persevere in the truth, to be more hardly handled and die a more cruel death by our own countrymen at home than if we were taken hence and carried into Turkey.”

Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, St Thomas More (1535)


The Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quarere (VD) and the Instruction “Cor Orans” (CO) have recently been presented by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, under and with the authority of the reigning Pontiff.

In addition, on 16th July 2018, the General of the Discalced Carmelites sent a Letter to Carmelite Nuns on the implementation of Cor Orans.

These three documents indicate a fundamental change in the way contemplative nuns are meant to understand their vocation, some having lived it already for half a century and more.

Without their assent they are now being directed under obedience to adopt what the documents themselves term “a novelty”.

There can be no mistake that Cor Orans is a diktat to be implemented immediately even though it is couched in newspeak language of accompaniment claiming that it “intends to clarify the dispositions of the law, developing and determining the procedures for implementing it.”

On page four the General states in his letter that Cor Orans "entails a new commitment to be welcomed with docility, humility and confident abandonment (…) for the necessary labor (sic) for the birth of a new reality, bringing life, communion and strength.”

This is the language of the English Reformation. Elsewhere the term “docibility”, a non-existent word in English, is code for blind obedience.

One has to ask why this has come about and why at this time. Was there a falling away of observance in the contemplative orders? If so, why hasn’t the already established system of visitation been conducted?

It is arguable that some institutes have needed more discipline in some countries.

But why impose new regulations across the board especially on those that have been observant and faithful to their charism?

It is also evident that the communities that have maintained fidelity to their constitutions are those that attract vocations among the young.

This last point is critical. Since the vocation to a contemplative existence requires being “hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3: 3), a young aspirant will seek out a monastery where its distinctive character of fidelity will nurture the young person’s vocation and allow it to flourish.

Not all monasteries of a single order are the same exactly.

Accordingly, to impose Federations which insist on compliance with a central bureaucracy, having a centralised novitiate and process of formation, robs the individual monastery of its unique character, and force-feeds a prospective novice into an establishment to which she is not particularly drawn and in which she will not ultimately live out her vocation.

This means the proposed formation will be defective in its essence.

One should enter the companionship of a specific community from the beginning, where the spiritual life is nurtured within that context, having its own distinctive spiritual ecology, especially when considered as a life with perpetual vows, protected by enclosure, and conducive to intimate union with Christ the spouse for the salvation of souls.

It must be stressed that in the places where Federations have been embraced or promoted there has been the greatest decline in the faithful observance of cloister and a corresponding lack of vocations.

The new directives of Cor Orans claim to have their origin in the Constitution Sponsa Christi Ecclesia of Pope Pius XII, yet despite asserting that Pope Francis did not intent to abrogate it although it was derogated in some points, it proposes that VD presents an “intense and fruitful path taken by the Church in the last decades, in the light of the teachings of the Council (Vatican II) and considering the changed socio-cultural conditions.”(n. 253)

It beggars belief that the path of the Church in recent decades has been "intense" or "fruitful".

In fact, the Church has become increasingly decadent in its hierarchy. The practice of the faith among laity in Western societies has fallen away dramatically.

It is impossible to conclude that the last fifty years, despite a plethora of synods and endless commissions, projects for “new evangelization”, conferences, institutes for leadership, et cetera, have seen an expansion and intensification of faith and observance.

To now impose a superstructure on independent communities will not inspire confidence but rather create new and unforeseen difficulties.

The astounding proposition that “juridical autonomy can become an obstacle and a danger”, is not the experience of the preceding centuries.

Pius XII's Verbi Sponsa decreed that “itis the duty, the responsibility and the joy of nuns to understand, maintain and defend, firmly and intelligently, their special vocation, safeguarding the identity of their specific charism from any attempt to alter it, whether coming from within or from without”.

Later in the document it determined that “with the prior authorization of the Holy See, meetings of nuns belonging to the same contemplative institute within the same nation or region can be organized, if motivated by a genuine need for common reflection, provided that the nuns freely agree and such meetings do not take place too frequently. These meetings should preferably be held in a monastery of the Order”.

By contrast, Cor Orans obliges superiors as well as “formators” to attend courses under threat of being reported to Rome if they do not comply!

One of the key innovations is the determination of the Holy See to impose affiliation on a monastery that is supposed to be precarious or having an asserted autonomy.

In such a case, the status of autonomy is suspended, the superior becomes subject to the superior of the affiliating monastery or the Federal President, novices can be accepted but must be formed in the affiliating monastery or another monastery of the Federation.

Surely this is a move designed to weaken rather than strengthen contemplative life because there is no mention of guidance towards or promotion of such vocations.

In addition, the current dearth of catechesis and apologetics in Catholic education will further lessen the likelihood that devout young women will be aware of the possibility of choosing such a profound life commitment.

Nor can it be overlooked that there is a not insignificant concern about assets and revenues deriving from the suppression of monasteries, shades of the Reformation again.

The final chapter of Cor Orans concerns formation. This instruction proposes that a young woman, having made her decision to embrace a life commitment normally with the guidance of a spiritual director, must now face “no less than nine years and no more than twelve” years of formation.

This shows scant regard for the maturity of the individual while at the same time it is more than is required for Holy Orders.

It also envisages formation courses for “formators” and Federal and inter-Federal courses as well.

How is it that a previous Instruction from the Congregation warned against such meetings and shared experiences which can amount to social get-togethers rather than intensifying observance?

Did the drafters and signatories of this Instruction not know that many of those who enter Carmel are professional women, graduates of universities and medical schools, even readers in philosophy and mystics?

St Thérèse of Lisieux would probably have insufficient formation judged by this standard.

This document treats future aspirants to the contemplative life with disdain. Only those who have mature faith and deeply spiritual persuasions would be likely to present for so strict an order.

By regulating formation from outside a specific community and designed by a Federal Council, the autonomy of a monastery would lose its intellectual independence and especially if materials are theologically or spiritually questionable (as would be the case!).

As Verbi Sponsa asserted, “by means of the cloister, nuns embody the exodus from the world in order to encounter God in the solitude of a “cloistered desert”, a desert which includes inner solitude, the trials of the spirit and the daily toil of life in community (cf. Eph 4:15-16), as the Bride's sharing in the solitude of Jesus in Gethsemane and in his redemptive suffering on the Cross (cf. Gal 6:14).

This analysis has been undertaken mindful of the “low profile” such contemplative communities have within the Church and the wider community.

This makes them utterly vulnerable to the sort of overbearing interference in the time-honoured traditions that are being foisted on them.

Accordingly, the faithful need to be made aware of what is happening at the very heart of Christ’s mystical body.

Their sisters in Christ are held in the highest esteem and are supported with their love, prayer and sacrifices, for in the words of St Thomas More in his Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, written in the Tower of London, “there is no prayer made at pleasure so strong and effectual as that made in tribulation.”
Ralph Curtis
Vatican II is a false Religion claiming to be Catholic. Jesus, The Word Made Flesh, is kept out..
Mark Langlois
In other words, keep them locked-up, ignorant and away from contemporary progress! Not very Christian !!!
Joseph a' Christian
Homosexual false priests are destruktive, demonic tools for the devil.
Jesus, the Son of Almighty God, Is King.
Upsetting the Brides of Christ is NEVER a good idea. He looks after His ladies.