One piece I did not pick up on my first read through that La Civilta Cattolica article this brief comment about relations between bishops and religious. Overtones for the CDF-LCWR tussle, I’d say:
I also know that the bishops are not always acquainted with the charisms and works of religious. We bishops need to understand that consecrated persons are not functionaries but gifts that enrich dioceses.
The involvement of religious communities in dioceses is important. Dialogue between the bishop and religious must be rescued so that, due to a lack of understanding of their charisms, bishops do not view religious simply as useful instruments.
A few things that struck me on this. Catholics in general have little awareness of the particular charisms of religious orders. Unless they have an educational connection, or they know a vowed religious individual personally, it’s all a muddle. I know that was true of me.
Until I was in my late twenties, I figured all women religious were teachers. The ones I knew who weren’t used to be.
As for men’s religious orders, I knew there were Trappists when I was about twenty, but I don’t think I realized all the connections with Benedictine monasticism for several years afterward.
Today’s priests are almost as ignorant. A confusion between sisters and nuns. A confusion about apostolic life and cloistered. Rare promoters of religious life for women, though they might make some effort for men–and that’s not guaranteed.
Pope Francis, as a religious, admits he and other bishops are not always aware. And more, he describes the relationship between religious and bishops in need of rescue. Not using people–that’s a moral principle. Relationships involve listening, understanding, and compassion. And when needed, mercy. Things that have been lacking lately.