The Group of Sixteen: 25 May 2020
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life created, in 1968, an organ for listening to and consulting with the Unions of Superiors General (USG and UISG), which is popularly known as "the group of sixteen" since it is made up of sixteen Superiors General, eight from each Union.
For more than fifty years, therefore, the Congregation has met twice a year with the "group of sixteen". The first meeting of this year 2020 was held on May 25 and, for the first time in its history, it was online, with the participation of all sixteen members of the Unions, plus nine representatives of the Congregation.
The meeting began with a moment of prayer and a greeting from Cardinal Braz de Aviz, prefect of the congregation. Then each of the two Unions and the Dicastery shared how they were living this time of pandemic.
The central theme of the meeting was how best to accompany Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life with few members, some of which are approaching their demise. According to data from the Annuario Pontificio, of the 267 male institutes and societies listed, 45 have fewer than 50 members and another 34 have fewer than 100; similarly, of the 1387 female institutes and societies listed, there are 215 with fewer than 50 members and 256 with fewer than 100.
On behalf of the Congregation, Rev. Leonello Leidi, CP, presented a reflection on the theme, followed by a time of engaging dialogue.
Another topic that was presented during the meeting was how to face, at times like the present, the reality of Chapters that must be postponed, and the possible use of "new" technologies both for Chapters and for the ordinary work of Councils. The Congregation committed itself to continue the dialogue on this topic at another more opportune moment.
The meeting ended with a moment of prayer and a final word of thanks to all from Cardinal Braz de Aviz.