On the best religious orders

Clearly, we know some religious are more orthodox and better than others. As such, which order has the most of the latter and the fewest of the former?

(I suspect that my latest thread was exterminated due to me supposedly implying that religious orders can be both unorthodox and in communion with Rome (or maybe something to do with Vat II?). Regardless of those questions I think that my question here is rather clear and straightforward and inoffensive, unless it happens that every orthodox order really doesn’t have at least one unorthodox member.

Read the forum rules for posting. It is against forum rules to make negative comments against clergy, religious, religious orders. You are deliberately asking people to do so when you want to know which orders are “better” than others.

I suspect the mods will soon close this thread also.

There is a sticky in the Vocations subforum stating that all religious institutes in communion with the Church are orthodox, though particular members of institutes may be heterodox.

Do you really believe that there is a metric to quantify the level of orthodoxy for a religious persons, that such metric can be used as a multiplicative weight for the number of religious, and that we can obtain an objective estimate of the present orthodoxy of a religious order?

I think that this could be more of an exercise in making derogatory statements about religious people that are trying to devote their lives to God and about institutions that are integral part of the Church.

The question to my mind was not disparaging orders, but asking about individuals within the orders, which would seem to be within the rules as they are written.

Brother JR has said on here many times that every family has their problem children. To my mind, it is a fair question to ask which orders have less problem children than others as long as in doing so, one does not call orders themselves heterodox in the process.

What you ask is a fair question. However, the answer can only be given by superiors of each and every order or congregation. It is an information I don’t presume they are willing to provide.

First, I think it is better to keep in find that despite the problematic members, the order or community is in good standing with the Church.

Second, let’s trust the Church when she says they are orthodox, then they are orthodox.

Third, when you are attracted to an order or congregation, focus not on the problematic members but on the charism.


What metric are you using to measure “more orthodox,” and “better”?

How are you going to count the “problem children?”

And I would rather we not use anything BroJR has said to answer the OP’s question. (Out of respect for him.)

IMNSHO: there is a kind of reductionist, smug arrogance in the question.

If the OP has a vocation to religious life then he must do his best to answer the call with humility and courage.

*]Lots of humility

*]and lots of courage.

*]And especially lots of quiet prayer.

*]And stay off internet forums.:tsktsk:

I understand that orthodoxy is critical, but it surprises me that some people never care about orthopraxy. :rolleyes:

How is anyone supposed to get reliable information on orders when this is the level of response such an inquiry gets? As someone wrote here, my information is the kind that many would not be willing to give, so why not see what those outside the order or former members believe? The internet is a big place and so by the law of large numbers I’m bound to find many here with this information.

Now, as to humility, I did write “unless…” so that’s humility enough.

If anyone has proof that orthodoxy=communion with the pope then write it, but I think for me it is a controversial proposition right now (I can believe it but I can’t possibly see why it is true).

Why not write to the vocations directors of the various orders and ask them how orthodox they are.:thumbsup:

Tell them you won’t be interested in them unless they meet your standards.:cool:

If Brother has a problem with it, I am sure he will let me know. He has stated what I quoted above in multiple threads in the public forum.

As a minor point of clarification, it is not what I am asking, but rather my trying to interpret the OP’s question in a more positive light.

Frankly, I think several people need to take a step back. It is a sad reality that many religious communities have had problems, this is hardly a state secret. Surely there is a way to talk about it in a charitable fashion, but also in an honest one. It has been done many times on this forum in the past, I see no reason why it cannot be done again.

The OP did not call out any religious community and suggest that they were not orthodox, he asked a question. A simple, and charitable way to answer the question would be for people to answer only that part where he asked about communities known for their orthodoxy.

Or, people could continue to shove their heads in the sand and keep yelling at others to do the same.

Will that work? I’ve spoken to one before, so I cannot believe that they would say anything that reflected badly on essentially their work. But seriously, if that’s a useful strategy I’ll take it.

Are you asking because you have a vocation?

If so then talk to your spiritual director, or if you don’t have one then talk to a knowledgeable person whose opinion you respect and ask them to guide you.

Tell them what you feel you are being called to and ask for direction.

Good point and in fact in a monastery it may be far more important than whether it has fewer or more members who are orthodox or not. I can only speak from the Benedictine point of view; I imagine it’s similar for Cistercians though (same rule).

Monks vow stability, obedience, and conversion. That’s all. They don’t make a promise of “orthodoxy” although as an order Benedictines profess obedience to the Holy Father; that’s embedded in the promise of obedience. They don’t make a profession of always having the correct opinion on theological matters. They make a profession of obedience. That means what the abbot says, becomes final. Obviously though an orthodox abbot is essential.

In the abbey I’m associated with, there are more orthodox and less orthodox monks. The abbot is very orthodox though, and the monastery follows good practices for a contemplative abbey: fidelity to the Divine Office including chanting the entire psalter in a week, Gregorian chant, correct liturgy for the Office and the Mass, etc.

And more important, the community, including the less orthodox monks, are obedient. They made that vow and they take it seriously. Everyone recognizes that the conversion part will occur at different speed for different individuals. So there will be monks in the community at different levels of understanding. They are there to study the rule, seek God, and climb the ladder by lowering one’s self into humility.

To me, seeking a community one should first look at the abbot. It is to him you will be giving your obedience. Then at the community itself. You will probably find that far more annoying than the monk with the weird theological opinions might be the monk sitting next to you in the refectory for 60 years who slurps his soup. That far more than anything will be the test of your command to love your brothers like your family. So equally important to the abbot will be the degree of fit with the community, and keep in mind the community as a whole gets to vote on whether the postulant becomes a novice, and whether the novice becomes first a simple professed then a solemn professed. They have to accept you as much as the other way around.

Seeing young postulants come and go, my view has been that postulants that show up and want to join our abbey because it’s traditional (it is, in the classic Benedictine sense, not in the sense of which liturgy it uses, which is OF; but it retains faithfulness to the magisterium and classic Benedictine traditions like Gregorian chant), fail and leave. That’s not what monastic life is all about, and any good vocations program will shake those out early in the process.

A monastic vocation is to seek God in the Benedictine way through the promises of stability, obedience and conversion. What matters is finding a community that is true to that ideal, not one with 100% orthodox members. All my opinion of course… and orthopraxy as Cristiano points out will be far more important: orthopraxy in how the community carries out its daily life, through faithfulness to the Rule and its obligations particularly obligation to the daily liturgy. If that’s in place, the community’s members will experience spiritual growth, even if some (even many) are not “orthodox” in opinion. It boils down to it being “not all about me”. One of the least orthodox monks I know is also one of the most faithful in being obedient to the daily requirements of monastic life and to his abbot. That more than orthodox thought will IMHO serve as an example to novices.

What is the criteria for “orthodoxy”? Who has the authority to judge this?

There are many things I see from users here on this forum that use items that Catholics are free to disagree on as items for just such a judgement.

I have also seen users who do not have a deep understanding of theology make judgments due to their misunderstandings.

This is such a subjective thing I believe it is up to each individual to make any such decisions on their own and not one that they really should share because as laity they really have not authority to judge this of anyone.


Every religious order must submit its constitutions for approval by the Church. If the constitutions have been approved by the Church, the institute in de facto “orthodox.” This is how the Sacred Congregation for Consecrated Life operates. There is never a guarantee that individuals are going to be as orthodox as their constitutions call them to be.

Therefore, as far as the Magisterium is concerned, every religious order that the proper authorities approve is orthodox. The Church deals separately and privately with individuals. The question is answered by the Church’s approval of the order’s statutes. The Church would never approve statutes that contradict the faith.


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