Orders and Reputations


#1

NOTE: This is not a thread to criticize any order as being anything other than orthodox as an organization. I am asking a different question entirely.

Was looking at Brother J.R's posts in a really old thread on the Jesuits. I have to wonder, why do the various orders and what not develop mostly oversimplified and inaccurate reputations, i.e. the Jesuits are "liberal", the Norbertines are "conservative" and so on? I mean, I know some Jesuits may be off the reservation, or that Father from the Norbertine Abbey is a fan of the Extraordinary Form, but that might not be true of another Jebbie or Norbertine (I know of one who really isn't) or what have you.

How do these stereotypes develop? Keep in mind this is from a young layman who's heard all the stereotypes over the years.


#2

Forms what I've found, orders' reputations (justified or not) vary from country to country. For example I have encountered some Dominicans locally which some people would describe as being "off the reservation". If this is a person's only experience of Dominicans then they would likely develop the view that all Dominicans were like this. The same is obviously true of any order. Individual members are also often taken as representative of an entire group - particularly when media attention is involved.

I think it's also fair to say that an order's reputation precedes it - people who have had no personal experience of a particular order would form views based on what they've heard from others. In this way, myths and stereotypes are perpetuated. Of course this is nothing new - as the Jesuits know only too well!

I'd also say that most people Catholics and non-Catholics alike don't have a wide exposure to religious orders (or even to a single religious order). Often their only exposure will come in the parish or school setting and will involve, at most, only a handful of members in a particular geographic area which obviously makes their experiences far from representative.


#3

[quote="Cojuanco, post:1, topic:316807"]
NOTE: This is not a thread to criticize any order as being anything other than orthodox as an organization. I am asking a different question entirely.

Was looking at Brother J.R's posts in a really old thread on the Jesuits. I have to wonder, why do the various orders and what not develop mostly oversimplified and inaccurate reputations, i.e. the Jesuits are "liberal", the Norbertines are "conservative" and so on? I mean, I know some Jesuits may be off the reservation, or that Father from the Norbertine Abbey is a fan of the Extraordinary Form, but that might not be true of another Jebbie or Norbertine (I know of one who really isn't) or what have you.

How do these stereotypes develop? Keep in mind this is from a young layman who's heard all the stereotypes over the years.

[/quote]

I agree that stereotypes paint with a broad brush, and although some orders have a lot of what may be called "liberals" (not obeying the Magisterium) in them, there are always exceptions. Obedience to legitimate authority needs to be a priority.

Labeling can be very misleading.


#4

They don't start out that way. The Church would of course never approve an Order which was founded upon dissent and disobedience; but being in an Order does not make one immune to temptations. Over time the members of an Order can lose their fervor and become enamored with the world. Of course it usually happens very gradually, and is never true of every individual, but it doesn't have to be. If those in administrative and influential positions "depart the reservation" as you put it, this can have a devastating impact on the entire Order. And in the present age when there is such widespread dissent from Church authority, it should not be surprising that religious orders (especially in the U.S. but everywhere) have dissenters among their ranks, even in large numbers and in administrative positions. Thus the visitation which Pope Benedict ordered to be carried out in the U.S. because of orders of nuns which were disobedient to the Holy See.

It is not the first time in history something like this has happened. St. Bernard started the Cistercians because he saw the need of the Benedictine Order to "get back to the basics"; the Trappists were, in turn, a sort of reform of the Cistercians. St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila saw the need to reform the Carmelites, thus the Discalced Carmelites. The Jesuits have been suppressed more than once during their turbulent history. It must be hard to engage the world of academia and intellectual elites all the time without being tempted to the notion of "free thought." I think the Carthusians are the only centuries-old Order that boasts never having been reformed at least in as major a way, probably in large part because they have such a rigorous and isolated existence.

So it's not the orders per se, but an order can indeed be overrun by individuals with an agenda. Pray for them.


#5

Jesuits have been demonized by protestants ever since their conception since they were challenging them intellectually and spiritually and were very logical, look at St. Edmund Campion.
Anyways I can sum this up with a joke: Bl JP II and God are talking, and God says to him you have done such a great job for this world even when you were at risk of death from your enemies so as a reward I will grant you one wish. BL JP II says: well, how about a transcontinental bridge from Italy to Africa to make pilgrimages easier. God replies: that's long shot, what about something else? BL JP II replies: Lord let me understand how Jesuits think and rationalize etc... God replies: On that bridge do want it to be single or double laned?


#6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.