The vocations crisis is a result of the deterioration in "essential aspects of the consecrated life", not solely the lack of profound values in contemporary society. This is the message of a document entitled "New Vocations for a Revitalised Consecrated Life," released by the Union of Superiors General, following their recent General Assembly in Ariccia, Italy.
    According to the document, the crisis in religious vocations should not be a reason for anxiety or discouragement. On the contrary, it must be a privileged opportunity to continue on in fidelity following Christ.
    The document is a reflection that acknowledges the difficulties of the contemporary socio-cultural context, but also gives concrete proposals to apply new styles and a new "communicative visibility" to the consecrated life.
    Over the last 20 years, the number of female religious has decreased from 991,000 to 819,000. Male religious (excluding priests) have decreased in number from 76,000 in 1978 to 58,000 in 1997. The number of religious priests, which two decades ago was 158,000, has decreased to 140,000.
    Zenit 1:13pm 9/6/99

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