Religious dissent

Religious dissent

Kevin McManus

While the news of the gross disobedience of the heads of the Canadian religious orders is alarming, we all know individual heroic and obedient religious, orders, or parts of orders that have either kept rheir Rule or returned to it.

So we should not panic.

It seems that almost every 500 years there occurs a great and successful reform movement of religious life.

While a few famous names have to be mentioned, because Church history is complex, many more must be ignored here, although they too greatly influenced the reform eras and periods between.

The end of the first 500 years of the Christian era saw the Benedictine reform that saved European civilisation.

The end of the second 500 years saw the Cluniac-Hildebrand reform followed by the Franciscan-Dominican miracle.

The end of the third period saw the Tridentine reform with St Ignatius, St Francis de Sales, St Teresa of Avila, Reginald Pole and Pope Paul III, to name just several key figures out of many.

At the end of the fourth period there are already signs of renovation at work with many new religious orders emerging such as the Missionaries of Charity.

What seems to have triggered the past three great reforms of religious life were serious social crises.

The first was precipitated by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire with the Gothic invasions; the second was by general social decay and moral anarchy, the third was by the protestant revolt.

Today we have the many faceted liberal-modernist apostasy in faith and morals.

Is it awaiting some social disaster in the future?

Whatever form this may take, it is certain that the Church will eventually renovate the religious orders and they will give glory to God as they always have.

Ashfield, NSW

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