In Rome last week, a conference was held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross to resurrect the name and works of Jesuit Jean Cardinal Daniélou who died in 1974 in mysterious circumstances that clouded his work as a one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. His outspokenness on the truths of the Faith made him unpopular with the intelligentsia but his views on the decline of vocations and religious orders is still right on.
In an interview given in 1972, here are the reasons he gives for crisis facing religious institutions:
- The evangelical counsels are no longer considered as consecrations to God, but are seen in a sociological and psychological perspective.
- The group dynamic replaces religious obedience.
- All regularity of the life of prayer is abandoned and the first consequence of this state of confusion is the disappearance of vocations, because young people require a serious formation.
- In the name of a false secularization, men and women are renouncing their habits, abandoning their works in order to take their places in secular institutions, substituting social and political activities for the worship of God.
- A false conception of freedom brings with it the devaluing of the constitutions and rules and exalts spontaneity and improvisation.
He concludes by saying that “experience will demonstrate if the vocations are more numerous in the houses of strict observance or in the houses of mitigated observance.” I think we can answer that question today, at least in the Western world.