The future of contemplative orders in the Catholic Church is under siege, not by the oft-bemoaned vocations crisis, but by Archbishop Josè Rodrìguez Carballo, the secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In 2018, Carballo released Cor Orans, a series of regulations on women’s monastic orders. Cor Orans is the practical implementation of Pope Francis’ 2016 Vultum Dei Quaerere. While women’s orders globally were required to conform within one calendar year, Cor Orans has proved so toxic to authentic monastic life that many monasteries have applied for exemptions, only to be met with silence, delays, and retaliation.
While much can be said about Cor Orans, it is essentially a planned obsolescence program for contemplative monasticism, designed by a bishop who has, time and again, announced that such a vocation has overstayed its use.
Carballo holds no love for contemplative monasticism. He has said that the collapse of religious vocations over the past fifty years is proof that this form of religious life is antiquated. Even when an order has flourishing vocations, he dismisses it as a fluke. In a 2015 speech, he claimed that contemplative life was outmoded and “say[s] hardly anything to people today.” To an assembly of Carmelites, he denied that Teresa would want them to remain faithful to her rule: “what does Teresa want now? We don’t want to walk as we did 500 years ago.”
One of the harshest changes is an update to formation. Under Carballo’s rules for every women’s monastic community, formation is required to last nine to twelve years, at minimum. By comparison, before Cor Orans, nine years was the maximum allowed. For many orders, formation is the equivalent of a Navy Seal’s boot camp experience. There are additional rules and regulations, all of which must be followed to the letter.
Additionally, the Novice Mistress is—under Cor Orans—required to constantly attend continuing education classes outside of her monastery. It is essentially equivalent to requiring a mother to attend never-ending bureaucratic indoctrination programs to be allowed to parent her own children. If novice mistresses fail to conform to the policies set forth in these programs, the entire monastery’s future can be threatened by the federation—the worst requirement of Cor Orans.
Under Cor Orans, every monastery is required to join a federation, and if they do not, they are forcibly enrolled. Federations violate the autonomy of monasteries dictated in the rules of their saintly foundresses, such as the discalced Carmelites. St. Teresa of Avila, for instance, was adamant that monasteries maintain strict autonomy from each other and from other monastic governing structures, especially federations—a tradition reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II in 1990. Cor Orans takes away this long-recognized monastic autonomy. Carballo describes it as a “privilege” that, under his regulations, the federation’s president can decide to take away from a monastery—basically at her own discretion and with wide room for cause.
Under Carballo’s one-size-fits-all regulations for every order and charism, federations have unchecked power over individual monasteries and their nuns. Assets and members must be shared, which means a federation can require a monastery to surrender money and sisters at any time, for any reason. Additionally, the federation can visit and inspect the monasteries at any time—and for any length of time.
Communities are required to follow any rule changes mandated by the federation, which can alter any aspect of the monastery—federations are even allowed to remove novices from a community, educate them in their own off-site program for years, and return them only as fully-professed nuns. For a monastic community, this is the equivalent of Child Services being able to drop into your family home without a warrant, stay as long as they want, change any of your household rules or customs, and remove your children and credit card at will.
Perhaps most nefariously, federations serve as an official death panel for monastic communities. Cor Orans arbitrarily defines a viable community as one that has six or more fully-professed members. This means that you can have a vibrant monastery with five professed nuns and ten novices, some of whom may have been there for almost a decade—due to the new minimum years of formation—and yet this is technically a nonviable monastery. The federation can close these “nonviable” communities at will, reassigning nuns wherever they choose.
No longer are little communities allowed to prayerfully and faithfully endure to the end. No longer can God surprise a flagging order with new growth. Carballo is not content to allow communities their natural death or hold on to any hope for life. In many cases, monasteries that have new vocations are being stymied. For instance, as the National Catholic Register reported, the Dominican Monastery of the Most Holy Annunciation in Marradi in Tuscany was ordered closed when its sixth nun died, even though the monastery is self-supported financially. Sisters from other countries applied to be transferred to the monastery, which is over four centuries old. Ecclesiastical authorities blocked these entrants—Cor Orans explicitly forbids these transfers—and ordered the monastery closed. The nuns responded by barricading themselves inside and refusing to leave. They are still there.
The possibilities for financial corruption are rampant in the federation system. The assets of closed monasteries are split between the federation, the diocese, and the Holy See (according to regulations 72 and 73). Since Cor Orans added this power, federations now have the ability to fund their own bureaucratic expenses, which gives them a vested interest in closing monasteries. The property is held by the federation with this caveat: that the Holy See can step in at any moment and claim the closed monastery for itself (regulation 72).
Since 2018, Carballo has closed hundreds of monasteries around the world. Within the first week of implementing Cor Orans, 30 monasteries were closed in Italy alone. Many of these orders had historic properties worth millions of dollars. Cardinal Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, is excited over the opportunities this affords: “I wish the streamlining of our structures, the reuse of the big houses [i.e., the selling of monastic properties] in favor of works that satisfy the current requirements of evangelization and charity, the adaptation of the works to these new requirements.” Judas said it more succinctly: This perfume was worth a year’s wages! It should have been sold, and the money given to the poor…
Full story at Crisis Magazine.
I highly doubt that the formation process for a woman novice at a monastery is as tough or more difficult than the training process required by the U S Navy SEALS. The hyperbole in this article leads one to think that perhaps most of the article is full of exaggerations.
This article is very one-sided. I hardly trust anything that comes from Catholic traditionalists anymore. Crisis is the source of this, and, yeah, it figures. They’ve gone full Trad there. Don’t trust their warped, biased reporting on anything.
I hope you are right. Upon further reflection, I should have read Cor Orans before sprouting off last night. This I shall do.
Are you serious? They have gone Liberal or modernist here. Trads love monastic life.
“Under Carballo’s one-size-fits-all regulations for every order and charism, federations have unchecked power over individual monasteries and their nuns.” And this from a Vatican that finds rigidity toxic. Further: “In a 2015 speech, he claimed that contemplative life was outmoded and “say[s] hardly anything to people today.” Rome should, by this logic, see to the end of the Trappists, the Carthusians and contemplative Benedictines. For if the contemplative life is no longer valid for the women, so also for the men. And should Rome go this route, it will be one of the most disastrous moves ever against religious life in the history of the church. Monasteries were lights in the Dark Age but today our age, IMO, is darker still, and the contemplative witness is all the more necessary. If Francis is the Pope of the moment, he will moderate Carballo’s enthusiasm for the destruction of this charism, this gift, of the Holy Spirit. And yes, I am telling Francis to check Carballo at the door.
Dan – according to your logic, if the church is to eliminate the contemplative life for women, then they should also for me. Given that logic, if men are made priests, then so shouldn’t women? I am frankly reminded of grade school lawyers who proclaim about how some disciplinary action is unfair because “he did it first” or “how come I have detention and she didn’t?” I do agree that monasteries were lights long ago, and perhaps they should be continue, though not at the price of programs that could better serve the church community, such as a well funded clinic or food resources for the poor.
You are not Catholic, and have totally absurd misconceptions of our Faith! You cannot possibly “judge” our religion by sick, modern, atheist, radical leftist secular movements and their beliefs! Go find a non-Catholic website!
The truth is most probably somewhere in the middle. If there are ‘thriving’ monasteries that don’t meet the criteria in Cor Orans, the local ordinary has the authority to ‘massage’ the criteria and step in. If there are bishops that don’t appreciate such monastic expressions, there are plenty that do and have invited these orders to come to their dioceses.
How much longer will the total destruction of what is left of the Church continue? Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano has issued a call to resist the New World order you can read or watch the video at the Gateway Pundit. Of course the modernists here will rejoice with the Bergoglio initiative of destroying more nuns just because they wear habits and are contemplative.
“157. In the contemplative life of nuns, the aspect of separation from the world deserves particular attention for the high esteem that the Christian community nurtures towards this kind of life, sign of the exclusive union of the Church-Bride with her Lord, supremely loved.”
This is taken from Cor Orans. I am sorry for my fulminations at 9:23 last night. Reading the document itself gives no hint that Carballo is on a slash and burn march through these contemplative orders.
LifeSiteNews had a story on Oct. 4th 2021, all about how Vatican representatives of “Cor Orans” destroyed much of Mother Angelica’s order of Poor Clare nuns. Cor Orans sounds like an ignorant, heartless, and vindictive tool to kill off traditional contemplative orders of nuns– and falsely implement shallow, secularized, Modernist concepts– which cannot work, in traditional contemplative orders, with centuries of development of the contemplative life, rooted in Saints of ancient eras. People fail to understand, you cannot “throw away” thousands of years of monastic development in contemplative religious life– and substitute shallow, Modernist, secularized “junk.” It is a highly-developed field. You cannot blindly view contemplative orders as being “sentimentally attached to lovely, old-fashioned Catholic traditions.” The ancient, thousands-of-years-old, deep knowledge and wisdom in this tradition, is timeless, and has led countless souls effectively to Sainthood, for centuries.
I defer to Romulus Augustus (how interesting that he chooses a Latin based Roman name, rather indicative of wanting to return to a time when Roman Catholicism was truly very patriarchal, women as second class child bearers with no rights save those afforded them by their husbands, etc. The total destruction of what is left of the Church? Such a superlative outcry… Truly, times change, and I well imagine that allowing sisters to walk about without having to wear a vestment, wimple, etc., just shook his world because it’s not the world he grew up with. But neither did he probably know of pedophile priests who managed to survived under the cloak of the collar, but I digress. Humans long for the “good old days”, and I imagine that if we went back 100 years or so, there were rumblings of the end of the church because WWI changed American values, etc., and would lead to the end of all. It’s a good habit to stand back and evaluate whether what one is doing is still relevant and productive. I mean, we left our mother country because after evaluating what was going on, we changed. just my thought….
Dremel– you simply have no understanding at all of our ancient Catholic Faith! It comes from Jesus Christ and His holy Apostles, who lived over 2,000 years ago– and has ancient roots in the Jewish Old Testament, dating back even thousands of years further, in history! It has nothing to with your ideas, from secular, modernist, non-religious, Godless, radical leftist movements. This is a Catholic website.
You are correct, this is a Catholic website, open to the public for engagement and discourse. Does stating I am no longer Catholic make my argument any less viable? Admittedly, this site is rather, well, dogmatic, patriarchal and Old Testament conservative. And that’s a person’s right to be, so long as that right extends to everyone having the same right to express views that might run contrary to that orthodox view. Otherwise, set up filters that allow only vetted Catholics to enter and comment. Then, you’ll only have to read those views which coincide and support your view – such an easy life, without one to push you to cognitively evaluate your positions, like through well-thought out non-accusatory replies that lead to an intellectual exchange of minds and thought, perhaps enlightening one or both of us to think deeper than the apparent “I am Catholic, and since you’re not, I win” or the “You’re NOT Catholic, an atheist (I am not) so go away unless you agree with me” paradigm. And for record, my biological parents (both Catholics) were married,but not to each other, so by definition I am that paragon of virtue called a bastard, and later adopted by a very dogmatic family, who raised me Catholic but hated my inquisitiveness about the “why” we do things this way or that. When stuck, “Because we said so” or “Cuz the Pope said so and he’s infallible on articles faith” argument. And then Pope Frances states something you don’t agree is in keeping with your view, so writers add words saying obliquely how he isn’t their pope… quaint! How might the Vatican react? Approval? Excommunication? Your fellow congregants who quietly use birth control yet declare their pro-life stance until it’s their daughter who needs one. For the record, in my replies I use my real name, not some pseudonym to hide behind or…
Michael Dremel, it might help if you stop thinking in stereotypes. I can’t speak for anyone else here but I have tried to discern what is pleasing to God. The Church is infallible on some things or offers a sure norm on other things.
I am sorry that your parents could not answer your questions. Madonna had the same experience.
No two Catholics are alike.
Go back and get your questions answered.
I know from your previous posts that you seem to think in either/or (either abortion or birth control). There are other options although many of them are sinful too.
A lot of times, we might seem close minded, but we may have already been through the questioning phase and are committed to our decisions.
Michael, I don’t mind reading your posts, even though we may differ. Keep posting! From a patriarchal, dogmatic, New Testament conservative. If I get out of line, please feel free to rebuke me. You wouldn’t be the first to do so. Kind regards, Dan
Michael, on a Baptist/Jewish/Mormon/Catholic (etc.) website, don’t blindly attack them— instead, find the good things you see, and compliment them! And don’t try to falsely “judge” them in a ridiculous manner, by your own uneducated ideas and stereotypes of them! Instead, try to learn all about them, understand them from their point of view (not yours!) and intellectually point out all their good things that you see! That is always the very best way! And don’t worry about your name– too long for some, “just right,” for you. Your choice. It doesn’t matter.
Any blog can slap the word Catholic onto its title but that doesn’t mean it has approval of the Church, is even remotely connected to her, is faithful to her, or has the same aims she does.
The Church can’t possibly approve every blog. No blog should have the word Catholic in its name unless it has approval of the local ordinary. But I think a lot of Catholic websites, bloggers and Youtube channels don’t know that.
RealCatholicTV was asked by its ordinary to remove the word Catholic from its name and it complied.
National Catholic Reporter was asked to remove Catholic from its name and it refused.
debauched vatican, in its own perverted
way, gives witness to the power of contemplative prayer
More hypocrisies continuing, why not pay more attention to Fr Richard Rohr, Franciscan, whose Center for Action and Contemplation has enlivened Christianity for thousands, in the 21st Century.. In his Universal Christ Fr Rohr explain how Buddhism and Christianity are mirrors to each other. Why are so many millennials disenchanted with the Catholic Church? and Christianity in general? Ive gained so much from theology writers like Elaine Pagels and Cynthia Bourgeault. .Then Sophiology, more of Wisdom Christianity as in the Eastern Churches, rather than Soteriology, or Savior Christianity as in the West. Let’s get down to the true message of Christ, before the church became the religion of the Roman empire, thank you Constantine.. The arrival of eastern pracrices such as yoga which millions of us have practiced since the 1970’s, and writers like Thich NAht Han, the Dalai Lama, Yogananda, have entered our hearts, minds and souls. ok all for now.NAMASTE
cnwtury– The Catholic Church has always stated that all religions may teach some of the same truths as ours (love, peace, goodwill, atonement for sins, etc.), but only our religion has the full truth, in Jesus Christ. Anyway, there are some ancient, helpful health disciplines, found in many world cultures and religions, that even doctors may prescribe as part of a healing and health regimen, for their patients. And I have known devout, conservative Asian Catholic priests, who practice T’ai Chi in the morning, because it is good for your health. Yoga, likewise, is good for your health. I was in a serious accident some years ago, am allergic to pain medications, and suffered greatly for many years. I finally found great relief, when I took the Catholic Mindfulness program of Dr. Gregory Bottaro, which is based on techniques he learned when studying with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., as a seminarian with his famous religious order, for a few years. Dr. Bottaro is now a devout young Catholic psychologist on the East Coast, and has a book and program on Catholic Mindfulness.
Anyone can take the “Catholic Mindfulness” program online, at a reduced fee, if you ask. Dr. Bottaro and his associates will help with any questions, as well as give you lots of support and encouragement. This method reminds me of beautiful old Catholic spiritual books I read when young, such as Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection’s famous “The Practice of the Presence of God,” and Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s famous “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.”
“more of Wisdom Christianity as in the Eastern Churches, rather than Soteriology, or Savior Christianity as in the West. .” The contrast is false. Jesus is as much a Savior to the Orthodox as he is to us Catholics. If you want to get down to the true message of Christ, the best source is the gospels, and what was Jesus’ first preaching? It was for people to repent of their sins, Mark 1:15. Very simple. What was the apostles’ first preaching? Acts 1:21- 40: Peter offers salvation (not wisdom) to Israel through Jesus death and resurrection by repentance and faith in him. So it is not Constantine who gave us Jesus as Savior, but God who did, and gave him the name above every other name. Which leads me to ask, do you not think you need a savior? Is wisdom, however you define it, enough? You will not face Buddha at judgement but Jesus, and to him and him alone will you answer. And so must we all– Elaine Pagels, Cynthia Bourgeault, Thich Naht Han, the Dalai Lama, Yogananda and yes, Richard Rohr and all disenchanted millennials. He alone is Savior, as well as the font of all wisdom, power and authority. 1st cnwtury, you may have much to contribute through your learning, but never lose sight of whose glory we must all acknowledge — Jesus. Oh yes, and NAMASTE.
Actually, I have friends in Orthodox churches (churches that are in union with Rome, as well as those that are not) who have told me that they really have to practice their faith very well, just as Latin Rite Roman Catholics of the West used to do, before Vatican II. The devout Orthodox really work hard at getting rid of their sins! They have very long, beautiful, liturgical services, during which they must stand, and there might be places to sit only for a very few elderly worshippers, if they really cannot stand for very long periods of time. They also have lots of prayers, icons, and saints’ relics, and go to Confession in a different manner than we do. And their Lenten fasts are all very hard– plus, during the final Holy Week, I am told, they eat only some bread and water! They really seek lots of purification, during Lent!
From what I have been told by Orthodox worshippers, laymen are expected to do the same strong spiritual practices as their monks, according to age, health, and strength. During their “Great Lent,” which begins on a Monday (called “Clean Monday”– they have no “Ash Wed.”) the Orthodox begin their fast, which means, no food until the evening meal. They abstain from all meat, fowl, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy, oil and wine. Married couples abstain from the marital act until after Easter. They have a great deal of religious services, prayers, religious reading, reflection and meditation, almsgiving, good works, Confession, penance, etc. No matter what time of year it may be, they are very serious about going to Confession before receiving Holy Communion at their Divine Liturgy (their Mass).
I do not think, historically, that the Roman Catholic Latin Rite Church ever had a Lent as challenging as our Orthodox brethren!
I have been told, particularly by Russian Orthodox people as well as other Orthodox worshippers (Byzantine Divine Liturgy) all about their “Great Lent,” which they seem eager to embrace, each year. They seem to have more individual interest to try to do as much as they can, to follow their religion– just like little monastic laymen and lay women, eager to take on religious responsibilities, including asceticism, as far as they may be able to do. I am not sure if I have been given some exaggerations by them, about Holy Week being so tough– “only bread and water” — but I have never been to Ukraine or Russia (etc.), nor to their churches in America (except a couple of times). But I think, actually, there are specific, restricted foods, plus religious rituals, and long religious services, for specific days of Holy Week– and I think their Good Friday fast is a total fast.
I gave up on Richard Rohr when he said that “God keeps no record of your wrongs but he keeps no record of your “rights” either.”
I just don’t trust him.
If Rohr said that, he has lost his way, and it would be interesting and instructive to go back and find out how and why it happened.
Contemplative monasteries are for our souls like rain forests are for our lungs. Both are on the decline yet both are mandatory for our survival. This heartless closing of women’s ministries (even when self-sufficient) seems to have a monetary goal, not a spiritual goal. How have we lost our way?!?
Why are they not attracting vocations?
Why, that is a very good question. In 1979 I tried my vocation with the Trappists. At the time there were 55 monks in the monastery; now there are 16. After World War II and the Korean War Trappist monasteries filled. Soldiers of war became soldiers of Christ. Back then monastic regimen was more ordered and more contemplative than it is today. There was a military sense to it, so far as how minutely things were prescribed. Then came the pill, and with it the sexual revolution. That meant smaller families so a smaller pool of applicants. Also Trappist life is one of true self-denial in the extreme and our soft Western culture does not prepare well for this. I am a testament to this melancholy reality. It is a rare vocation when there are lots of potential applicants, so when there are not many then the monasteries shrink. So much more can be said, as well as an exploration into those that are flourishing, and why.
Dan– thanks for sharing! How are these Trappist monks doing, today? Where are they located? Would you recommend that any Catholic young man contact them today, if interested in pursuing a Trappist religious vocation?
Of course I would recommend this community, Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Oregon, near the towns of Lafayette and Carlton.. I love these guys!! I haven’t been up there recently due to covid issues, but now they do have limited accommodations for retreatments again. Visit their website. Anyone interested in a vocation should let that intention be known. They have long term retreats so such a person can experience the life and see if it is for them.
Dan, thanks for sharing this information. I will pass this information along to others. Oregon is close by, so that would make it a lot easier for prospective candidates to investigate this Trappist monastery. Tomorrow is the Feast of Christ the King. Long live Christ the King! Viva Cristo Rey!
Amazing how Latin or anything Roman triggers the Novus Ordinarians to a degree of rage the Devil himself hates Latin as well hmmmmmm. Romulus Augustus was the last Roman Caesar in the West.
Romulus Augustus was only ten years old when placed on the throne by his father in 475 A.D. He occupied the throne for just ten months. Rome fell in 476 A.D. Next, the Middle Ages began. Was Romulus Augustus a Christian? I have no idea! Maybe you can give us some interesting information on that.
On Wed. Dec. 8th, 2021, Abp. Cordileone will say a Solemn Pontifical Mass (Tridentine Latin Mass) for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Cristo Rey, 721 Parker Ave. (across from USF) at 8am in the morning.
He shouldn’t be doing that. Traditionis Custodes. I have lost respect for the reckless rejection of the pope and Vatican II that Cordileone is displaying. Give up on the TLM already. It’s over.
“He shouldn’t be doing that.” It’s over, I cease to read anywhere in T.C. that an Archbishop is forbidden say the TLM at a ,monastery. If you can find the citation, please inform me, because I couldn’t find it.
I think “It’s over” has a point, and it’s this: the monastery celebrates daily mass in the novus ordo. They are not a group attached to the TLM. TC states that Bishops are to take care that no new groups attached to the TLm are established. Celebrating the TLM for a group not attached to it does seem to risk creating a new group in violation of TC. And even if there’s no risk of that, then why celebrate the tLm for this group at all? It’s not their normal Mass, and it’s not the declared unique lex orandi of the Roman Rite. Why bring this superseded museum Mass into the monastery? Seems for show.
“And even if there’s no risk of that, then why celebrate the TLM for this group at all?” Maybe the nuns asked for it.
They should have been told no. No new TLM groups. Cordileone is violating the spirit and letter of TC. The TLM was for the preconciliar Church. The TLM is not for the post-Vatican II Church.
Oh well I will bite, enough already of your anti TLM bashing it only proves your fear of it and the failure of the man made Novus Ordo lovey dovey silliness. Giant puppets, altar girls, hand holding, kiss of peace, lay lector’s, guitars, drums, pianos, communion in the hand while standing, rock, mariachi, folk music, felt banners, improper attire, effeminate men and girls in leotards dancing around the Novus Ordo dinner table and the list goes on and on.
What exactly did you bite? An edible.
Abp. Cordileone is going to celebrate a very beautiful and very holy Traditional Latin Mass, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the Feast of her Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th, at a lovely Carmelite monastery.
“It’s over”– no, every Bishop/Archbishop must make his own liturgical decisions for his particular Diocese/Archdiocese. We have a wide selection, now, in the Archbishop’s category of Ancient Liturgies, which is growing fast. Traditional Latin Masses, Dominican Rite and Carmelite Latin Masss, various Orthodox Catholic Masses in their languages and cultures, etc. etc. Wonderful to broaden oneself, try attending different forms of our Holy Mass, and learn lots.
Finally! Thank you for printing this!
Archbishop Carballo is looking to the future and may actually be trying to preserve the contemplative life in the Church. It will be difficult to sustain many little monasteries with 6 or 10 members as their vocations decline. If you want to give your life savings to support these little communities be my guest. Unless you are Bill Gates, Tim Busch or Jeff Bezos you probably do not have the financial resources to keep these communities going. It’s called the economy of scale folks!
To The Moderators: I wrote a very nice post, on Nov. 19th at 11:54pm, which you printed, regarding a beautiful Traditional Latin Mass which our Archbishop will proudly offer on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I thought that many Catholics might love to hear about this beautiful Mass, and some might wish to make plans to attend! And next, you printed an ignorant, nasty response from someone called “it’s over.” Next, I tried to reply several times, with the idea that “no, the beautiful old Latin Mass is not ‘over!’ And you should respect the Archbishop.” But you ignorantly and heartlessly refused to print any of my attempts to reply. The archbishop really deserves respect especially of Catholics– including all of you, at California Catholic Daily.
Finally! Thank you for printing my post of Nov. 21, at 9:11pm!