Pope Francis: Nostalgia is the 'siren song of religious life'

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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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