Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Catholic Religious Women's Role in Church and Society

In a recent symposium on Korean Religious Women's life, participants went directly to the secularization of their lives. They examined their present life and look forward to the future by analyzing the results of a questionnaire. Both, Catholic papers had articles on the symposium.
The first presentation was the present reality and future vision. They divided the topic into three parts: community life and friendship, ecclesial dimension of the consecrated life, and the social dimension.

As a community, they want more mature relationships with others (44 %). As individuals, they want growth in the spiritual life (53%). Discern the works of religious sisters, and reorganize to make the works fit their identity and aptitudes as religious (61%). Reorganize the community so that it will be a sign of togetherness (37%).

One of the presentations mentioned the atmosphere of religious life as comfortable, conservative and worldly: middle class living. Because of rank and vertical order of religious life, dialogue is difficult: the environment  does not facilitate an easy exchange.

70% of the religious have a negative view of the Korean Church. 39% found it stagnant; 30% see it both internally and externally in crisis; and 16% see it on the decline. About one fourth saw the environment of the parishes as one in which the clerics are ruling over the people.

Conflict with the clergy comes from authoritarian and unilateral decision making (50%). They would like to be considered as partners in the work. Sisters would like to see a little more understanding of religious life (32%); they want  the clergy to be a role model, and show a correct pastoral approach to the work (25%).
48% felt women religious were adding a great deal to the pastoral life of the Church.  Over 50% felt that the religious in their work in schools, hospitals and welfare have contributed much to society.

The burden of overwork and responsibility was the biggest difficulty for many. Lack of necessary knowledge and ability was a problem, and conflict with fellow religious was listed; lack of meaning and fruitfulness and problems with the clergy was mentioned.

Sisters would like to be catalysts to help move society away from materialism and hedonism and in search of Gospel values and true happiness. Over half of the sisters agreed with this. They see their future in being on the side of the poor and marginalized.   

One article concludes with the observation from a religious sister that the times are different. We need to go beyond the boundaries we have in place with a new model that will maintain our religious life and see it grow. This will require resolve on the part of religious sisters. There is a need for religious to be formed maturely: psychologically, intellectually, spiritually, and have concern for evangelization;  desire a change in our relationship with the diocese, and women's role within the Church.

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