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Costa Rican diocese orders canonical closure of Benedictine monastery

November 10, 2021 Catholic News Agency 4
The Benedictine Monastery of San Jose in Costa Rica’s Diocese of Cartago, which was canonically closed Nov. 7, 2021. / Diocese of Cartago.

Cartago, Costa Rica, Nov 10, 2021 / 10:24 am (CNA).

The Diocese of Cartago has ordered the canonical closure of the San José Benedictine Monastery, a diocesan foundation that had functioned ad experimentum for some years.

“This decision of ecclesiastical closure is carried out as a result of an internal administrative process of the Church, which originated in a pastoral visit to the Monastery; this being done in accordance with the powers conferred by the Code of Canon Law, whose result and conclusions were endorsed by the Congregation for the Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome,” the diocese stated Nov. 7.

Father Jorge David Arley Campos, press officer for the Diocese of Cartago, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency Nov. 9. that “as the assessment and investigation of the fruits of the experience is an internal process, the specific reasons” for the closure are not published, since “it was the decision of the commission in charge and the judicial vicar of the diocese.”

“The final decision was made known but not the reasons, since there are elements of secrecy in the matter and they cannot be exposed to public opinion due to the nature of the entrusted secret, in order not to damage the conscience of the faithful and to avoid incorrect interpretations by the faithful,” the priest said.

On its Facebook page, the monastery calls itself a “monastic community governed by the Rule of Saint Benedict, cloistered under our constitutions, and our main work is: prayer and manual labor.”

“We are a cloistered community, we do not do pastoral work outside the monastery. We do not belong to the Diocese of Cartago,” the Facebook page states.

The Nov. 7 diocesan communiqué says that “the members of this diocesan experience have been allowed and offered all our collaboration in their transfer to other experiences of community, if they see fit, awaiting word from them.”

The diocese said that while it has closed the monastery and thus ended its ecclesial mission, it is aware that the monastery was also established as a civil association enrolled in the Civil Registry and so “it belongs to them to determine its future as a civil association.”

From Nov. 7 “the Diocesan Experience of the San José Benedictine Monastery will not be part of the Diocese of Cartago, likewise there will be no authorization for the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals in the place of that experience.”

Fr. Arley Campos explained to ACI Prensa that as a civil association the monastery is “a legal entity under which they were legally protected as a group.”

“As an association it’s up to them to determine their future, but they are no longer canonically a movement of the Catholic Church,” the priest said.

An article published Nov.1 La Nación, a San José daily, says that “the Benedictine monks of the San José Monastery, in Paraíso de Cartago, charged that the current bishop of Cartago, Mario Enrique Quirós Quirós, has persecuted them for years to ‘eliminate’ their ‘presence ‘in the diocese and take from them their monastery grounds.”

The monastery was founded about eight years ago under Bishop José Francisco Ulloa Rojas. Bishop Quirós succeeded him in 2017.

In its Nov. 7 statement, the Diocese of Cartago doesn’t mention the article in La Nación, but noted that “the land and facilities where the campus of said experience have been located is the property of the indicated Association and has never been the subject of discussion.”

A response sent by the Diocese of Cartago to La Nación says that “the members of the San José Monastery, which was founded by the diocese, were informed of the conclusion of said experience, as a result of not obtaining the expected fruits during this time.”

The diocese further noted that members of the monastery “have been given the opportunity to exercise, pursuant to CIC c. 50, their right of reply.”

Canon 50 of the Code of Canon Law establishes that “before issuing a singular decree, an authority is to seek out the necessary information and proofs and, insofar as possible, to hear those whose rights can be injured.”

The press officer of the Diocese of Cartago explained to ACI Prensa that what happened in this case was the “closure of a diocesan foundation that was subject to evaluation and that could have become an autonomous monastery,” as they exist in other parts of the world.

Fr. Arley Campos said that the members of the group can stay on their property, “since the material goods they enjoy are theirs and their internal regulations, like those of any civil group, are those that govern their action.”

However, the priest clarified, “its mode of operation and what that entails is no longer covered by the Diocesan Church of Cartago.”


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Pope Francis: Nostalgia is the ‘siren song of religious life’

August 14, 2021 Catholic News Agency 10
Pope Francis’ video message to the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR) on Aug. 13, 2021. / Screenshot

Rome Newsroom, Aug 14, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis warned against misuse of the liturgy that places an emphasis on ideology in a video message sent Friday to a Latin American conference on religious life.

“Let us not forget that a faith that is not inculturated is not authentic. For this reason, I invite you to participate in the process that will provide the true sense of a culture that exists in the soul of the people,” Pope Francis said in the video sent on Aug. 13.

“When this inculturation does not take place, Christian life, and even more so the consecrated life, ends up with the oddest and most ridiculous Gnostic tendencies. We’ve seen this, for example, in the misuse of the liturgy [where] what is important is ideology rather than the reality of the people. This is not the Gospel.”

The pope’s video message was featured at a virtual conference organized by the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR).

The conference focused on inculturation, a concept which John Paul II described as the process by which “the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community.”

Pope Francis said that many men and women in religious life can be tempted to focus on the decline in numbers of vocations in their orders. He urged them to “renounce the criterion of numbers.”

“Otherwise it can turn you into fearful disciples, trapped in the past and giving into nostalgia. This nostalgia is fundamentally the siren song of religious life,” Francis said.

Instead of focusing on numbers, religious should focus on evangelization and “leave the rest to the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

“I would like to remind you that joy, the highest expression of life in Christ, is the greatest witness we can offer the holy people of God whom we are called to serve and accompany on their pilgrimage toward the encounter with the Father,” he said. “Peace, joy, and a sense of humor.”

“How sad it is to see consecrated men and  women who have no sense of humor, who take everything so seriously …  To be with Jesus is to be joyful,” Pope Francis said.

“May the Holy Virgin protect you. She knows all about encounter, fraternity, patience, and inculturation,” he said.


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