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Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, recounts the development of religious life as he has experienced it from the time he entered, in the fifties, until the present day.
He suggests that the seeds of the present decline were already being sown early on, in the style and in the atmosphere of the times. Among other things, the centrality of total obedience to the understanding of the religious life led to many people developing in such a way that they were simply not capable of facing and overcoming the challenges of the dramatically changing world after the Vatican Council. As he sees it, apostolic religious life is now in terminal decline and very hard decisions must be faced by those involved in it.
Given that the average age of members of apostolic religious orders is now approaching sixty, is it not time for those orders to decide to stop taking in new recruits and to start a process of controlled disposal of property and of responsibilities which they will no longer be able to fulfil?
Is it reasonable to assume that a new form of religious life will inevitably arise from the remnants of the present form? Or is it more likely that the present form must die and that a new form will then arise independently to replace it?