Friday, October 28, 2016

Pope: Consecrated life, "capital" of the Church, autonomous, but not independent life "is part of the essential structure" of the Church and thus should be welcomed by pastors "cordially and joyfully”. 

However,  "the rightful autonomy" of these institutions must not be confused with isolation and independence. They must engage and nourish the life of the Church and its missionary activity. These are the essential concepts expressed by Pope Francis in his address this morning to the participants at the International Conference for episcopal vicars and delegates for the Consecrated Life, held in Rome.
The Pope asked bishops to "o be close to the consecrated, with tenderness and love, and to teach the People of God the value of consecrated life" and recommended "special concern" in promoting "the different charisms, both old and new", which continue to rise, because "the Spirit does not cease to blow where he wills." And pastors must not be "simplistic" when they exercise this grave responsibility of erecting a new Institute in their particular church, because “they are assuming a responsibility in the name of the universal Church".

“I remind the consecrated that a just autonomy and exemption cannot be confused with isolation and independence. Today more than ever it is necessary to live a just autonomy and exemption, in the Institutes that provide them, in close relation with insertion, in such a way that the charismatic freedom and the catholicity of consecrated life are also expressed in the context of the particular Church. The latter would not respond fully to what Jesus desired for His Church, if it were deprived of consecrated life, which is part of her essential structure, in the same way as the laity or the ordained ministry. It is for this reason that, in the light of Vatican Council II, we speak today of the co-essentialness of the hierarchical gifts and of the charismatic gifts (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4), which flow from the one Spirit of God and nourish the life of the Church and her missionary action. All these gifts are destined to contribute in different ways, to the building of the Church, and in harmonious and complementary relation between them. Pastors are called to respect, without manipulating, “the multi-dimensionality that constitutes the Church and through which the Church manifests herself.” 

On their part, the consecrated must remember that they are not “a closed patrimony,” but “an integrated facet in the body of the Church, attracted to the center, that is Christ” (J.M. Bergoglio, Address to the Synod on Consecrated Life and Its Mission in the Church and in the World, XVI, General Congregation, October 13, 1994) ".

Francis then referred then to the "mutual relations" between pastors and consecrated persons, underlining "the value of reciprocity." "Mutual relations do not exist where some command and others submit themselves, out of fear or convenience. Instead, there are mutual relations where dialogue, respectful listening, and reciprocal hospitality, encounter and knowledge, shared quest for the truth, the desire of fraternal collaboration for the good of the Church, which is “house of communion,” are cultivated. All this is the responsibility both of the Pastors and of the consecrated. In this connection, we are all called to be ‘pontiffs,” builders of bridges. Our time requires communion in respect of diversities. We are not afraid of diversity, which comes from the Spirit".

The pope finally asked for "special attention for the contemplative sisters." "The Church, the particular Church – he said - we need these 'beacons that indicate the route to reach the port" of these "torches that accompany the journey of men and women in the dark of night time", of these "morning watchmen who announce the sunrise." 

Accompany them with brotherly affection, always treating them as adult women, respecting their own competence, without undue interference."

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