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PARAPPULLY Jose, New Delhi says,
``INNOVATION`` - A FALSE PREMISE AND PROMISE! Reflection on the Final Statement of CRI National Assembly 2012. Holding Up to the Light -14
By Jose Parappully
360° VIEW
New Delhi, Nov. 18. A critique of the paths proposed by the National CRI for renewal of religious  life in India

Looking for ways and means to revitalise religious life in India, more than five hundred of the major superiors of religious congregations gathered in a resort on the outskirts Hyderabad, the emerging IT hub of India. And the solution they hit upon is ``innovation.``

May be moving the National Assembly of the CRI to a posh resort was part of the planned revitalisation of religious life in the 21st century.

May be the innovative environment of the progressive IT city had rubbed off on the participants for ``innovation`` to emerge as the remedy for the ills of religious life.

However, the idea of innovation is not something that popped up in Hyderabad. It had been pushed forward and enthusiastically nurtured for quite some time, as the many recent reports on the CRIB, the online Newsletter of CRI bear witness. The Statement is the final result of that effort.

The Final Statement, I guess agreed upon by the more than 500 congregational heads, presents innovation (with a heavy colouring of technological innovation, like paperless meetings and better education of religious on the proper use of the mobile and other means of communication) as the remedy for the ills that afflict religious life in India.

A close reading of the Statement reveals a number of inherent flaws, some of them glaring.

Two of the central premises of the Statement namely, (1) ``Mission is the heartbeat and life-spring of religious life and the Church`` and (2) ``Innovation is at the heart of mission-shaped religious life,`` are questionable, in the way both `Mission`` and ``Innovation`` are understood in the document.

The understanding of ``Mission`` here, as can be read from further elaborations of it in the document, is problematic. The proposals given under ``Mission`` indicate that the mission of the religious is to be a ``task force`` in the Church (but not the local church!) - to carry out certain tasks in the wider Church and society.

Focus of mission is on doing things - may be different things and differently, but doing.  Is this ``doing`` really the mission of the religious? Documents of the Church, including the most authoritative Perfectae Caritatis and the more recent Vita Consecrata, disagree. (Space does not allow me to elaborate on this, but those interested can surely dust of these documents to discover or revisit their take on the mission of religious life.)

The Statement also presents the following as the reason for crisis in religious life today: ``The identity of religious women and men is in crisis today as it is compromised and channelized to minister to the pastoral and institutional demands of the local church. This phenomenon stifles the prophetic and mystic dimension of religious life and the creative imagination of the religious women and men for creative fidelity to their original charismatic vision``

Yet, in the proposals made in the Statement to revitalize religious life, the mystic dimension gets totally lost, with an emphasis again on action, albeit of a different kind or in different spheres. But the focus is on action and not on the mystical dimension.

What I read in the Statement is that the action of religious requires a wider horizon than that of the local church and that commitment to the local church is what stifles imagination and creative fidelity of the religious.

It is hard to understand how commitment to the local church stifles prophetic and mystic dimension of religious life and the creative imagination of religious men and women. The same phenomenon can happen in the wider horizons, whatever they may be!

By the way, how many religious in India have their energies and priorities ``channelized to minister to the pastoral and institutional needs of the local church``? Aren`t most religious in India serving more their own congregational objectives rather than the interests and needs of the local Church?

I think the local church has become the convenient whipping boy for the loss of commitment and creativity on the part of the religious in India! And the remedy proposed seems to obfuscate roots of the problem.

The kind of ``Innovation`` proposed is not going to lead to the desired revitalization of religious life. ``Returning to the Roots`` of religious life, that is, ``creative fidelity to their original charismatic vision`` rather than the fancy concept of ``innovation`` might do it better!

Innovation is a false promise- a mirage - like Saint Peter`s famous ``waterless clouds`` floating around, awakening hope, but proving sterile!


Anjilikuzhiyil Thomas
February 12, 2013

Here is the test response Have a nice day Thomas A

February 12, 2013

This is a test for verifying the possibility of posting comments to speak up articles. Fr. Jose let me know if you receive a notification to this test comment. You may be able to delete or suspend the comment. Test how it works.

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