“Sometimes, hierarchical cultures can give a distorted image of religious life, seeing it as a way to achieve a high status, power and importance. In addition to such factors, family pressures on becoming a priest can be very strong in some cultures. Parental influence on vocational aspirations can be particularly problematic in candidates from traditional cultures, in which filial devotion and respect for parental expectations are particularly strong and even deterministic for someone’s vocational identity. Such candidates could try to enter the congregation to obey their parents, reducing their freedom of real discernment”. This is what father Mark Weber, secretary for the Society of the Divine Word, said this morning at the 89th six-monthly meeting of the Union of Superiors General (Usg) taking place in Rome until tomorrow. Even among trainers and superiors, he pointed out, “sometimes there is the feeling that, once one has got into the educational process, he ‘has a call’ that must be ‘saved’ or ‘protected’, sometimes despite important information about his attitude and behaviour that suggest that he could actually not have a call for our intercultural religious life. In such cases, there’s the risk that the wish to keep someone in the congregation can actually prevent constant discernment all through one’s education”.