Pope Francis unexpectedly announced on Friday that 2015 will be a year dedicated to consecrated life.
News of the Pope’s intention was made at the close of a meeting
between the Pontiff and 120 superior generals of male religious orders.
The meeting lasted three hours and at the end, Pope Francis thanked
them, “for what you do and for your spirit of faith and your quest for
service. Thanks for your testimony, and also for the humiliations you
have to endure,” he told them.
The Union of Superiors General held its 82nd general assembly in the
Salesianum in Rome between 27 to 29 November. The USG president is
Jesuit, Fr Adolfo Nicolas.
The meeting on Friday was conducted as a “colloquial and fraternal
discussion” in which Pope Francis responded to questions related to the
identity and mission of consecrated life.
He told the USG leaders that Religious are called upon to follow the
Lord in a special way.
“They are men and woman who can awaken the world.
Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be
sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to
‘domesticate’ them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the
In response to a question on vocations, the Pope referred to the young Churches which are bearing new fruit.
He said this gives rise to a re-evaluation of the inculturation of
charism. The Church, he suggested, must follow the example of Matteo
Ricci in asking forgiveness for and looking with shame upon apostolic
failures caused by misunderstandings in this field.
Intercultural dialogue must press for the introduction of persons of
various cultures, expressing different ways of living the charism, in
the governance of religious institutes, Pope Francis said.
He also emphasised the importance of formation, which he said must be
founded upon four fundamental pillars: spiritual, intellectual,
communitarian and apostolic.
The Pontiff described formation as “an artisanal craft, not a form of
policing” and said “its aim is to form religious persons with a tender
heart, not acid, not like vinegar.”
The Pope underlined that while we’re all sinners, religious orders
should not tolerate corruption. “We accept sinners, but not the
corrupt,” he said.
Other questions were asked regarding the relationships between
Religious and the particular Churches to which they belong. The Pope
responded saying, “We bishops must understand that consecrated persons
are not helpers, but rather charisms which enrich dioceses.”
The final questions related to mission frontiers of those in
consecrated life. Situations of exclusion remain the first priority, the
Alongside these challenges, he also mentioned the cultural and educational mission in schools and universities.
For the Pope, the pillars of education are “transmitting knowledge,
transmitting methods, transmitting values. By these means, faith is
The educator must measure up to those he educates, he said, and must
give careful thought to how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a changing