Cardinal Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, spoke Tuesday with Vatican Radio about the situation of religious life in France.
"France certainly forms part of the reality of Western Europe and there, secularization has been very strong over the last 40 years, after the Council," he said. "It could be said that certain traditional congregations suffer because of this secularized mentality that has seeped into them."
The cardinal recalled that Benedict XVI "continuously warns against the danger of so-called internal secularization."
"To flee from this worldly spirit, therefore, and to put the emphasis on life in community, on fraternal life, on prayer, on poverty, on obedience, on chastity lived in the joy of the heart and in interior liberty, it is this that we should recover, that we should live intensely," he proposed.
"Living the charism intensely and returning to the authenticity of religious life," is what Cardinal Rodé suggested as the "only way to get out of this crisis situation in which religious life finds itself."
Despite the difficulties, the cardinal also noted "surprising reactions." He pointed to the experience of "great admiration and joy when you encounter young monks, young Carmelite or Dominican fathers, Benedictine religious, and you see them full of joy, transparent, with a great interior liberty."
"They are visibly in their place, where God wants them, and they live their vocation in the joy and peace of the heart," the cardinal affirmed. "I think this is the first testimony that these religious give and it is a very convincing, very believable testimony. As the philosopher Bergson said in other times, their existence is an invitation; they have no need for words."