The Vatican is investigating about a dozen founders of congregations of consecrated or religious life, and the most common allegations involve abuse of power or conscience, financial corruption or problems associated with “affectivity,” said a top official.
Spanish Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, spoke about his office’s work overseeing religious congregations in an interview July 30 with Vida Nueva, a Spanish weekly magazine on religion.
He said the church has very “clear and precise criteria” when it comes to discerning the authenticity of a religious charism when determining whether to approve a new congregation or religious order.
Among these criteria, he underlined: “Communion with the church; the presence of spiritual fruits; the social dimension of evangelization; high regard for other forms of consecrated life in the church; and the profession of the Catholic faith,” referring to the doctrinal congregation’s 2016 letter “Iuvenescit Ecclesia” to the world’s bishops regarding charismatic gifts in the life and the mission of the church.
“Sadly, it must be confessed that, at times, it is difficult to discover the authenticity and originality of a charism in some realities,” the archbishop said.
At the moment, the congregation is investigating about a dozen founders of institutes that come under his office’s authority, he said, without naming the founders or the communities involved.
“In most cases, these are associations whose canonical recognition is underway,” he said.
However, he said, in addition to that number there are some institutes who had already been canonically recognized and whose founders are being investigated, too, “so the number increases significantly.”
Rodríguez also said he was not counting communities or institutes of consecrated life that the congregation has already investigated and responded to, such as by appointing an outside delegate or, in some cases, suppressing the institute.
“It should also be noted that there have been some cases in which, after the necessary investigation, the female founder has left consecrated life or the male founder has been reduced to the lay state,” Rodríguez said.