Excerpts of the homily pronounced by Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of Religious ("Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life"), in the opening Mass of the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, this morning in the Gesù:
Consecration to service to Christ cannot be separated from consecration to service to the Church. Ignatius and his first companions considered it thus when they wrote the Formula of your Institute in which the essence of your charism is spelled out: “To serve the Lord and his Spouse the Church under the Roman Pontiff” (Julio III, Formula I). It is with sorrow and anxiety that I see that the sentire cum ecclesia of which your founder frequently spoke is diminishing even in some members of religious families. The Church is waiting for a light from you to restore the sensus Ecclesiae.
Love for the Church in every sense of the word, – be it Church people of God be it hierarchical Church – is not a human sentiment which comes and goes according to the people who make it up or according to our conformity with the dispositions emanating from those whom the Lord has placed to direct the Church. Love for the Church is a love based on faith, a gift of the Lord which, precisely because he loves us, he gives us faith in him and in his Spouse, which is the Church. Without the gift of faith in the Church there can be no love for the Church.
I join in your prayer asking the Lord to grant you the grace to grow in your belief in and love for this holy, catholic and apostolic Church which we profess.
With sadness and anxiety I also see a growing distancing from the Hierarchy. The Ignatian spirituality of apostolic service “under the Roman Pontiff” does not allow for this separation. In the Constitutions which he left you, Ignatius wanted to truly shape your mind and in the book of the Exercises (n 353) he wrote” we must always keep our mind prepared and quick to obey the true Spouse of Christ and our Holy Mother, the Hierarchical Church”. Religious obedience can be understood only as obedience in love. The fundamental nucleus of Ignatian spirituality consists in uniting the love for God with love for the hierarchical Church.
Ignatius placed himself under the orders of the Roman Pontiff “in order to not err in via Domini” (Const 605) in the distribution of his religious throughout the world and to be present wherever the needs of the Church were greater.
Times have changed and the Church must today confront new and urgent necessities, I will mention one, which in my judgment is urgent today and is at the same time complex and I propose it for your consideration. It is the need to present to the faithful and to the world the authentic truth revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The doctrinal diversity of those who at all levels, by vocation and mission are called to announce the Kingdom of truth and love, disorients the faithful and leads to a relativism without limits. There is one truth, even though it can always be more deeply known.
It is the “living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (DV 10) which is the voucher for revealed truth. ... May those who, according to your legislation, have to oversee the doctrine of your magazines and publications do so in the light of and according to the “rules for sentire cum ecclesia”, with love and respect.