During a visit to Peru this week, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney told a group of consecrated women that in Australia it’s very difficult to find vocations to the consecrated life. The Australian cardinal also said that he would like to see new Catholic communities, such as the Marian Community of Reconciliation, change the direction of the country.
The cardinal made his comments during a Mass celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, an association of the Sodalit Family, made up of consecrated women (called Fraternas) and founded in 1991 in Peru by Peruvian consecrated layman Mr. Luis Fernando Figari. The Comunity is present today in the Americas, Europe and Australia.
“One of the missionaries of Mother Teresa of Calcutta told me once that Australia was the hardest country in the world to find vocations in. For several decades many religious congregations in Australia have not received a single new vocation,” the cardinal said.
“I hope and pray that the strictly lay vocation of the Fraternas to work in the world at the service of God and the Church provides an opening and leads to a necessary change in the direction of my country. I ask all of you, gathered here tonight, to pray for the Church in Australia, that we may be open to discerning ever more the will of God and fulfilling it with greater fidelity,” he added.
The cardinal thanked God and the leaders of the Marian Community of Reconciliation for their presence in Sydney.
Cardinal Pell went on to explain that “Sydney has a peaceful and quite prosperous secular culture. It has a Christian majority of approximately 60% of the population. Although Catholics constitute the largest religious denomination, Australia is not a Catholic country. ”
Cardinal Pell also reflected on yesterday’s Feast of the Annunciation and pointed out that “the enemies of the Church see in the Annunciation an emblematic sign of the wrong understanding of submission to the will of God, especially on the part of women. Such submission is considered a subhuman act and hostile to the necessary and adult goal of human autonomy. To affirm that the greatness of Mary comes from her submission to the only true God is portrayed as a provocation,” he said.
The cardinal explained that for these people, the Annunciation “is a confirmation of all that is wrong with Christianity, because they do not recognize that true freedom can only be found in the truth. For many men and women of today, this is a difficult teaching to accept and therefore, it is often rejected. The free acceptance of the will of God is the fullest way to exercise freedom.”
“The gift of our own freedom leads us to be conscious of the effort we should make to cooperate with the divine Will. Certainly none of us has deserved the mission that God has entrusted to us through Baptism. He is the one who has called us to serve him, whether in marriage or in the consecrated life, whether in the priesthood, in leadership as committed laity, in the religious life or as a bishop. Each one of us should thank God for our particular vocation, being aware that the ways of the Lord are mysterious; sometimes difficult and even hard to accept at the beginning,” he said.