Rome, Feb. 15, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The prefect of the Congregation for Religious has lamented that many Catholic priests are neglecting their duties under the pressure of conforming to secular culture.
In a February 14 interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, Cardinal Franc Rode said that priests today tend to be less obedient to the Church and more responsive to the world. He cited reluctance to wear clerical dress as a symptom of this trend.
“A drift towards bourgeois values and moral relativism are the two great dangers that weaken religious life," said the Slovenian cardinal. "The biggest problem today is the climate of secularization-- present not only in Western society but also within the Church itself.”
Cardinal Rode said that young people continue to hear God's call to a vocation in the priesthood or religious life. But he suggested that a lax model of priestly or religious life is not likely to encourage vocations. As evidence the cardinal pointed to the young Catholics who are attracted to contemplative life in highly disciplined religious orders. "They are attracted because it is a radical life choice," he said.
The picture below is of the Jesuits at their "conclave" as they recently came together to elect their new minister general. Look hard. Not a clerical collar in sight. Why I wonder? Do the Cardinals come "dressed down" like this to elect the Holy Father (rhetorical question)?
Contrast that picture with the one below of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal...
Or this one of a group of Priests from the FSSP...
Or this one of the Holy Father with Cistercians of Heiligenkreuz in Austria...
You tell me which picture(s) more readily says "radical life choice"? This is not to say that the Jesuits have not made a radical life choice, or that other orders and even diocesan Priests that choose not wear clerics have not made a radical life choice, but the outward visible sign is simply not the same.
I can certainly attest to the fact that most young men, that I speak with any way, are not attracted to a model of the priesthood or religious life (at least not in the United States) wherein it appears to be a life of relativism, comfort and worldliness. From the outside looking in, many young men see priests and religious that seem to be doing "whatever they want". In their dress, in their lifestyles, in the Mass, in their homilies, in their teachings, etc. - they see moral relativism and they are not attracted to it. A young man that is attracted to a counter cultural life of orthodoxy, deep spirituality, poverty and simplicity finds it hard to reconcile with some of the Priests and Religious he sees today.