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First Page

47

Last Page

72

Abstract

The rapid social, political, and cultural changes at the end of the nineteenth and at the dawn of the twentieth centuries are felt even today. Yet, the Church of that time was still predominantly European concerning her wellanschauung, discipline, and exercise of authority. In addition, "the strong resistance of the institutional church to the uncertainties of the post-Enlightenment world along with the maintenance of a nineteenth-century fortress identity at its institutional center had set up tensions within the various European Catholic communities." How did this mentality influence the communities of religious life and their awareness of being bearers of a charism? In answer to this question, this paper will examine the historical and theological evolution of the consecrated life and charism during the three phases of this epoch: the pre-conciliar period, the duration of Vatican II from 1962-1965, and the post-conciliar time, including the pontificate of John Paul II. During the course of these three periods, the understanding of charism as well as the concept of the religious life underwent drastic changes, which are still being implemented to this day.

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