(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged missionaries to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace
The Pope was addressing Consolata Missionaries who have begun their 13th General Chapter in Rome. The Chapter will officially end on June 20th, the feast of Our Lady
Pope Francis expressed his joy at being able to welcome both the male and female branches of the Religious Family founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano and he highlighted his appreciation for their particular mission that takes them into challenging situations.
In view of the effort to continue to produce abundant good fruits in the Consolata communities and in the missionary activity of the Church, the Pope told the religious that in light of new pastoral urgencies and new forms of poverty they are called to deepen their charism and renew their impetus for evangelization.
“While I thank the Lord for the good that you are doing in the world, I urge you use great discernment and consideration of the situations in which the peoples you are working with find themselves in” he said.
Encouraging them never to tire of bringing comfort to populations that are often marked by great poverty and acute suffering, as in so many parts of Africa and Latin America, he said: “Let yourself continually be provoked by the concrete realities with which you come in contact and try to offer the testimony of charity that the Spirit has poured into your hearts in a proper way.”
Remarking on the fact that - just like that of any family - the history of the religious communities is marked by joys and sorrows, by lights and shadows, and recently, he said “it has been made fruitful thanks to the Cross of Christ”.
“How can we not mention your brothers and sisters who loved the Gospel of charity more than themselves and who crowned their missionary service with the sacrifice of their lives? Their evangelical choice highlights your missionary commitment and encourages you to pursue your particular mission in the Church with renewed generosity” he said.
The Pope said that to pursue this difficult mission it is necessary to live in communion with God with an enhanced awareness of the Lord’s love and mercy for us.
“It is more important, he said, to be aware of God’s love for us, rather than of how much we love Him.”
The Pope said that we all need to rediscover the love and mercy of the Lord in order to become more ‘familiar’ with God. Consecrated persons, he continued, need to rediscover that love and mercy in order to conform more closely to Christ, with freedom, spontaneity and a sense of awe for the wonders He performs.
In this perspective, the Pope said, religious life can become a journey of rediscovery of divine mercy, “helping you in your attempts to imitate Christ’s virtues and His humanity as you carry out your pastoral ministry”.
He also encouraged them to joyfully be open to the many incentives for renewal and commitment that derive from true contact with the Lord Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit.
This, the Pope noted, will allow you to be actively present in new arenas of evangelization with openness and attentiveness to situations of particular need that are emblematic of our time - even should this imply some sacrifice.
Pope Francis urged those present to always look to the example of their blessed Founder and not to tire of giving new impetus to missionary work.
He remarked on their responsibility to support Christian communities that have been entrusted to them “especially those of a recent foundation” and called for sensitivity towards inculturation of the Gospel, respect for co-workers and the choice of being present in simplicity and poverty.
The Pope invited them to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace.
He concluded encouraging the Consolata brothers and sisters to continue in their missionary journey with hope and expressed his trust that it may increasingly provide a vivid and sanctifying encounter with Jesus, source of consolation, peace and salvation for all men.