View From Rome
16 June 2016
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Educators, scholars and builders of culture: the Benedictine order’s contribution to both Western civilisation and the Church has been immense.
Today, however, many of the monastic communities that follow the Rule of St Benedict are struggling with both a scarcity of vocations and the need to find a sense of mission. On top of these are the scandals involving monks and child sexual abuse – just last month a former abbot, Laurence Soper, was arrested in Kosovo, following a five-year hunt by police who wanted to talk to him about historic allegations.
All of this puts extra pressure on a major gathering of abbots and monastic superiors from across the world in Rome this September. They are meeting to elect a new global leader of the Benedictine Confederation, known as an “abbot primate.” The current incumbent is 76-year-old German Abbot Notker Wolf – a prolific writer and player of the electric guitar – who has been in post for 16 years. While the primate acts mainly as a figurehead to a network of autonomous monasteries, whoever is elected later this year will be tasked with providing beefed-up leadership to the order.
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