Pope Francis Q and A with Women Religious "Praying, praising and worshiping is not wasting time." Full Text + Video


Paul VI Hall
Friday, 10 May 2019

Speech by the Holy Father in arm

Speech prepared by the Holy Father and delivered during the meeting


Pope Francis:

Thank you for your presence. I have prepared a speech, but reading speeches is boring and so I will hand it to the President and she will get the official speech to you. I would like to have a dialogue with you. But first I'd like to take two or three little things the President said.

You are 850 more or less, from 80 different countries - it is varied. I thought thirty years ago, a meeting of Superiors General, each with their own dress [laughing]: all the same in hiding. Today, each has the dress that the congregation has chosen: the secular dress, the traditional dress, a more modern dress, a national habit: the president ... I think we will give the award to the Superior of the Sisters of Jesus and Maria because she is really elegant with the Indian dress.

Thank you very much. Thank you for the upgrade journey you are making. It's risky. Always. Always growing is risky, but it's more risky to be scared and not to grow. Because now you don't see the crisis, the danger, but in the end you'll be pusillanimous, baby. Not a child: an infant, it's worse. Thank you for your work.

The problem of abuse: the problem of abuse is not resolved with the solutions of the Church from one day to another. A process has begun. Yesterday another document came out and so, slowly, we are doing a trial. Because it is something that we have not been aware of for 20 years and we are becoming aware of it, with so much shame, but blessed shame! in a process, step by step, to solve this problem.

Some of the anti-abuse organizations were not happy with the February meeting [of the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences]: "No, but they did nothing." I understand them, because there is suffering inside. And I said that if we hanged a hundred abuser priests in St. Peter's Square they would all be happy, but the problem would not be solved. Problems in life are solved with processes, not occupying spaces.

Then, the abuse of religious is a serious problem, it is a serious problem, I am aware of it. Even here in Rome they are aware of the problems, of the information that comes. And not just the sexual abuse of the religious: even the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience. We must fight against this. And also the service of the religious: please, yes service, no servitude. You did not become religious to become the maid of a cleric, no. But in this, let's help each other. We can say no, but if the superior says yes ... No, all together: no servitude, no service. You work in the dicasteries, in this, in the other, even by administering a nunciature as administrator, a phenomenon, this is fine. But domestic, no. If you want to be a maid, do as they did and as do the sisters of the father Pernet, of the Assomption, who are nurses, the maids in the homes of the sick: yes, because it is service. But servitude no. In this, let us help each other.
Then, the female diaconate. When you suggested me to make a commission - because the idea was yours - I said yes, I did the commission, the commission worked well, they were all smart, theologians men and women, and they arrived up to a certain point, everyone agrees. Then, everyone had their own idea, so ... I give to the President - I officially deliver it today - the result of the little they all agreed on. Then, I have with each other the relatio of each one, one who goes further, one who stops at a certain point ... And one must study the thing, because I cannot make a sacramental decree without a theological, historical foundation. But enough has been done. Little is true: the result is not great. But it is a step forward. Of course, there was a form of female diaconate in the beginning, especially in Syria, in that area; I said it [in the press conference] on the plane [in the return flight from Macedonia]: they helped in the baptism, in case of dissolution of marriage, these things ... the form of ordination was not a sacramental formula, it was so to speak - this is what the information tells me, because I did not perish in this - as today is the abbatial blessing of an abbess, a special blessing for the deaconate to deaconesses. It will go on, because from here I could have the members of the commission called in a while, see how they went ahead. I officially give the joint report; I hold - if anyone is interested, I can give it - the personal opinion of each. But they did a good job, and thanks for that.

Then, on the function in the Church. Seek ... We must go on with the question: what is the work of the nun in the Church, of the woman, and of the consecrated woman? And make no mistake thinking that it is only a functional work ... It may be, yes, that it is, a head of a department ... In Buenos Aires I had a chancellor; there are so many female chancellors in the bishoprics ... Yes, it may be, even functional; but the important thing is something that goes beyond the functions, which has not yet matured, that we have not yet understood correctly. I say "the Church is feminine", "the Church is a woman", and someone says: "Yes, but this is an image". No, it's reality. In the Bible, in the Apocalypse they call her "the bride", she is the bride of Jesus, she is a woman. But on this theology of women we must move forward.

I wanted to tell you this. And now there are 40 minutes to ask questions.

First question (in German)

Bruder Franziskus (brother Francesco), I am a Franciscan like you; I am here with 850 superiors general and we represent a large number of sisters who are involved in so many Church ministries.

Pope Francis:

Langsam, bitte (Slowly, please).


I speak for many women who would like to serve the people of God but with the same rights, and we hope today not only to find the answer to the question of the role of women in the Church on a historical and dogmatic basis: of course, we also need these sources of revelation , but we also need the strength of Jesus, of the way Jesus treated women. And what answers can we find today, in the 21st century, to these questions? I warmly ask you to continue to reflect on this, within the committee, so that not only the historical and dogmatic sources are consulted, but we try to understand what humanity needs today, from women, men, from all over people of God.

Pope Francis:

It is true what you say, that the Church is not only the Denzinger, that is the collection of dogmatic passages, of historical things. This is true. But the Church develops in the journey of fidelity to Revelation. We cannot change the Revelation. It is true that Revelation develops, the word is "to develop". It develops over time. And we understand faith better with time. The way of understanding faith today, after Vatican II, is different from the way of understanding faith before Vatican II, why ?, because there is a development of consciousness, and you are right. And this is not a novelty, because nature itself, the very nature of Revelation is in continuous movement to clarify itself, even the very nature of moral conscience. For example, today I have clearly said that the death penalty is not acceptable, it is immoral, but fifty years ago it was not said so. Has the Church changed? No: the moral conscience has developed. A development. And this had been understood by the fathers. In the fifth century there was a French father, Vincenzo di Lerins, who had coined a beautiful expression. He says that the consciousness of faith - I say this in Latin then translates - "ut annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate": that is, it grows, grows with the years; it is in continuous growth, it does not change, it grows, it expands with time. We understand better, and with the years it sublimates ... And if I see that what I think now is in connection with Revelation, that's fine, but if it is a strange thing, which is not in Revelation, even in the moral field, which does not is according to morality, does not go. For this reason, in the case of the diaconate, we must look for what was at the beginning of the Revelation, and if there was anything, let it grow and arrive ... If there was something, if the Lord did not want the ministry, the sacramental ministry for women does not go. And for this we go to history, to dogma. Then what I said the mother liked so much, because it is not only this that you said, there are two more things: one more thing is the dialogue with the world in which we live. A dialogue of experiences. And this dialogue with the world causes new situations, which call for new answers, but these answers must be in harmony with the Revelation. There is dialogue, even the development of faith and morals - as I explained -, but always with the foundation. Second: harmony with Revelation in dialogue. Don't be afraid to talk, it's important. And the third thing: the testimony. And on this I believe that the most important thing the mother said, to which she mentioned a little, is the need for testimony. Therefore it is true: not only dogmatic things are needed. We with Denzinger don't go anywhere in real life. We know what the truth is, we know how dogma is, but how we face this, how we make it grow, it is another thing. Denzinger helps us because there is all the dogmatic, but we must continually grow. I had referred to your dress, of now: "You have changed the dress, you have ruined the consecrated life!". Nothing: in the dialogue with the world, each congregation saw how it was better to express their charisma, express themselves. And this one who has no dress, this one who has a dress like that, this and the other who have another dress are neither worse nor better: every congregation makes its discernment. And with this I fall into the key word: discern. We need to discern. It's not all black or white, not even gray. Everything is on the way, everything is on the way, but we are walking on the right path, the road of Revelation. We cannot walk on another path. I believe that, although I did not respond to all the nuances that were in the mother's question, functionally this is the answer. It is true: not only dogmatic definitions, historical things, not only will they help us. But we cannot go beyond revelation and dogmatic explication. Do you understand this? We are Catholics. If someone wants to do another Church, it's free, but ...

Second question

My name is Sister Francesca, I am a Sister of Sant’Anna. First of all, I want to say a huge thank you because you, whenever we do the plenary session, reserve this space for meeting with us. It is an impossible desire to be fulfilled that you were present at the plenary, because in the plenary session all the seeds of hope came, the meaning of female religious life in this world, in this world today. It is not only moving, it is stimulating, it gives strength, to perceive how many seeds, with the different clothes, with the various charisms, the different missions, we are present where there are fragility, human frailties, raped children, men who have left their homeland and many times we stay there, even in places of war, where it is difficult, and listen to these testimonies also of taking care of the planet, starting from the small things, it was said: "one butterfly at a time", one person at a time. Yes, perhaps women's religious life is not very visible in today's world but there are many small seeds. All in all, I mean, but personally, we do not need to occupy clerical spaces because this service is visible, because it is already there, it is there and will continue to be there, and for this reason it would be nice if there were also some males in the UISG plenary , as an auditor, to hear the reality alive, not only to read it from the cards, to hear it from the voices of the sisters, is also what we shared in the tables. This is life, it is real, it is there, it is the seed that often dies and we superiors general experience so many deaths but we know that this is the way to life and in this service of mothers we are given the experience of grace to witness, to be eye-witnesses of so much life. A question. We are all mothers here: give us some concrete indications, of those that you know how to give us, to be servants, not deacons, servants, mothers, in our world today. First of all, it serves our sisters because the frailties are also inside, and above all we are instruments, it serves the servants of Jesus who are our sisters. Thank you for your proximity to each of us.

Pope Francis:

Because of you. It would be important for there to be male observers in the next ... It is important to understand these nuances that in a summary never come ... It would be a good idea. You used three words, three pillars: "fragility", "mother" and "servant".

The motherhood of the Church. I return to the same point: the Church is a woman, she is a mother. We say it: I believe in the holy mother Church. Speaking of fragility, the meeting point with fragility is the point that makes us understand what happened when God sent his Son: God meets the greatest, greatest fragility. Human fragility and takes on the greatest fragility, takes our humanity. Do not be afraid of fragility, indeed, approach human frailty. And getting closer to human frailty is not an act of social charity, no, it is a theological act, it is going to the point of the encounter between God and a woman, he became embodied ... This morning at Mass there were 25 Sisters of the Cottolengo who did the 50th of consecrated life, and these by vocation live in fragility because they work with disabled people, continually, some very seriously disabled ... But a happiness! They feel like mothers. Wouldn't this child, this boy, be any more useful than being cared for by a state nurse? No, a nun, they feel that vocation towards fragility. And not only these, many ... You, superior, how many times you have to caress the frailties of the nuns! Bring the fragility of your communities on your shoulders; and there, in this suffering, talking with a nun who wants to go, talking with the other who is not good, understanding her, going into the heart, moving forward ... The ministry with fragility ... We have it too. But we must not be afraid, because it is the mirror of the incarnation of the Lord. And then be mothers. Mothers and servants. We can be servants, yes, males can be servants, but mothers cannot. Fathers yes, but mothers no. The maternity of the Church and the motherhood of the Virgin reflected a total reflection in the consecrated woman. Even a family mother reflects it, but the consecrated is the total reflection: those who see a sister see the Church and see Mary. In fragility, because she is a mother in fragility, because she is a mother in fragility, consecrated, without giving birth to her own child ... This renunciation ... I would not like to talk too much ...

Moderator comment:

I would simply like to say that during this week we have had some people who have said what they do. There is one who works in the Central African Republic and who has asked this question that people address to them: "Do you also want to leave [go away] from here?", Because they are in very turbulent areas of war. And I think this question says that fragility of which we are a part. If we are not in fragile areas, we cannot even be really mothers, perhaps.

Pope Francis:

What you say is true. That question - "do you also want to leave?" - is the desperate people who do not want to be without a mother. Nice is not it?

Third question:

First of all a big thank you, Holy Father. In these days we have dealt with various themes, one of which is interreligious dialogue: thank you for everything you do in this area. I am also thinking of ecumenical dialogue, and I carry in my heart the suffering that I have touched with my hands, which I have seen in so many parts for the division that exists among Christians. I know you have done so much in this area already. I ask: is it possible to take a few more steps to reach this communion among Christians? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Because of you. I believe that ecumenism is on its way, always. It is true that theologians must study, discuss ... But there is that anecdote - which is true, they told me it is true - that when Saint Paul VI met Athenagoras - I would like to say Saint Athenagoras - Athenagoras said to Paul VI: "Let's do one thing: let's go together, and the theologians will send them to an island that will reflect and do theology, and we'll go on together". A joke, they say it's true. But if it is not true it is well found. [Ecumenism] is always on the move. Are there any poor people? Let's go together to work with the poor. Are there migrants? Together. Always together. This is the ecumenism of the poor, as I call what is done on the road with works of charity. But there is another ecumenism: that of blood. When they kill Christians because they are Christians, they do not ask: "Are you Anglican? Are you Lutheran? Are you a Catholic? Are you orthodox? " They kill. And the blood mixes. I remember once that a parish priest in Hamburg, the parish priest of Sankt Josef at Wannsee, near Hamburg, was in charge of carrying out the cause of a guillotined priest by the Nazis for teaching catechesis to children. But after him a Lutheran pastor was guillotined for the same reason. And he went to the bishop saying, "I can't go on with the cause of this without the cause of the Lutheran, because their blood is mixed." It is the ecumenism of blood. We have many, many common martyrs. Paul VI, when he canonized the martyrs of Uganda, were half-Catholic and half-Anglican catechists, more or less, and in the speech of canonization he mentioned the martyrdom of the Anglicans. Paul VI had already said this. There is the ecumenism of blood. We must do as much as possible together. For example, I come from blessing the exhibition on trafficking ["Talitha kum", opened before this audience in the hall of the Paul VI Hall): we work together, all, Catholics, evangelicals, all, because it is a social problem that we must help solve. And I believe this is important: ecumenism is on its way, not only with theological reflection. This will help, because we have made good progress, for example with the Lutherans, on justification ... good progress. But we cannot remain still until all theological points are resolved. Theologians have a great function in the Church: that they study and that they help us; but we, meanwhile, have to walk. And then the ecumenism of prayer. They are three. The ecumenism of prayer, the ecumenism of the blood, the ecumenism of the poor. Pray for one another, even one with the other. In interreligious dialogue, there too look for common values, look for the common values ​​that exist, and this is good. For example, among common values, respect for the lives of newborns or unborn children who have Muslims is wonderful.

Fourth question: [in Portuguese]

I am Sister Marlise, of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Brazil. Dear Pope Francis, so we feel it, I feel very excited to be here and also Sister Carmen said she would never have imagined she could sit next to her. I never imagined I could be here to ask her and ask her a question. I was encouraged by my Brazilian sisters to come here. I would like to tell you that we feel very happy and proud to have a Latin American Pope. All the Latin Americans present here feel the same thing. [Applause] Thanks! I would also like to tell you that we thank you for all your initiatives, mainly those in favor of the poor. We in Brazil and in various Latin American countries are experiencing the situation of a very suffering people and also in many other parts of the world, and you have been a very significant presence in the world for this portion of humanity: poor, refugees, victims of trafficking. To his initiative to combat human trafficking we too have given our contribution in Brazil through the “Network a cry for life” and we want to deepen and further encourage more sisters to participate in this fight against the trafficking of human beings. The Synod on the Amazon is about to begin and we would like to ask you what contribution the religious life consecrated to the Synod on the Amazon can give in a particular way. This is my question.

Pope Francis:

I should ask you the question: who is more important, Pele or Maradona? [they laugh] In Amazonia the presence of women is important for the sensitivity of indigenous peoples, and even women are capable - the religious, the consecrated - is able to better understand the tribal problem, because it is not a problem ... Every tribe, each indigenous category is not something like a football club or a cultural association. It is vital, and only the woman is able to understand life. And the consecrated woman, surely, will know how to look for the roads to get there. There are problems that some religious denominations have with the natives, because they do not understand their way well. Even the problem of liturgical expression, the inculturation that a congregation for worship studies so well: their liturgical inculturation, which has an old tradition. Also in China, Father Ricci, in India Father De Nobili: in those days there was already the problem of inculturation. There is also this problem. I believe that your contribution will help so much not to make mistakes in inculturation, and accompany, accompany with respect, because a consecrated woman is very, very cared for respecting how life grows, respect for those of the Sisters of St. Anne , around the fragility. A consecrated woman knows how to move with fragility, in a special way, in a theological way.
Fifth question [in English]

I am Sister Alice Drajea of ​​the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded by the Comboni missionaries. I am the Superior General of the Sisters based in Juba, South Sudan. First of all, I would like to bring you the greetings of the people of South Sudan: people want me to tell you how grateful they are for the gestures you have held towards the presidents of South Sudan [applause]. We were all honored and grateful for this gesture, but many people living in rural areas did not have the means to see or read about this event. Secondly, we would like to thank you for the new bishop of the diocese of Torit. As a local Congregation based in South Sudan, the only one that is now growing, we face many challenges, but the challenge I would like to bring to your attention in a question is the challenge within the Church. You talked about a process, which is a good thing. We currently have at least three dioceses without a bishop, and the other two have bishops who have already reached retirement age, as they told us, including our archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro. Now, with the situation in South Sudan, I think we need a strong Church, a strong diocese with people who have a guide. Because, as the Gospel says, sheep without a shepherd are scattered. So, my question is: how much can a diocese work and go without a bishop? We need a bishop. And the last question: I myself and the people of South Sudan, we ask you to come to South Sudan. Thank you!

Pope Francis:

Thank you very much. It is true what he says, five bishops are missing: two are already elderly and the other three dioceses are vacant. We struggled to name the latter and they tell me that the processes of two are on the way. We hope ... But you are right, and there you suffer so much because some bishops to visit the Catholics must go to the refugee camps because the situation is not yet clear. This is one of the most important things: the appointment of bishops. We do not always find suitable candidates, we must wait, but at least we can tell the nun that we will pray for good bishops to be found! And there are also human faults: he is a good priest but he cannot be a bishop because he does not have this dimension, he has not developed that other ... Searching for a candidate is not easy. But you are right, we accompany this with prayer. I was close to going to South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury. But it was not possible. We have promised to go together, the Anglican Archbishop and myself. Maybe this year - maybe, it's not a promise! - when I go to Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius [in September], maybe it will be time to move there. When I say "time" it's not the time of the clock, it's the time to get there. I want to go. I carry my heart in South Sudan. But I would like to say something very beautiful about South Sudan. When there was this situation from which no one knew how to get out, the proposal to make a spiritual retreat here in the Vatican, two days, came to the political leaders and they did. They had lunch in the common dining room, where I lunch, and I saw them there at the table as novices: shut up, eating. These who made war! Shut up because they thought of the meditation that the Catholic, the Episcopal, the Anglican had given ... but to unite, always. No nation has done this, only they are good. And I say: Lord, if they had this courage to give such a testimony, to come to make a spiritual retreat, give them the chance to go on! There, there is the problem of poverty and there is hunger. I would like to go there. And there is also a plan to be able to go. That of the bishops really [is an important point] ... And also the religious life: help so that it grows well, that they be strong women, that carry out this, which will be very, very important.

I liked this testimony, from that corner of African geography, that will help us so much. And I think someone can say there: "And you, do you want to leave?" - "No", as the President said.

Now it's time. I would like to continue ... but I take seriously - if I am alive, I don't know - the invitation to participate in at least part of the next assembly. I think the motivation the nun gave is a true motivation, if I am alive I will go. Otherwise, remember, remember your successor! Let it do the same! Thank you very much, pray for me and I invite you to pray together for the Regina Caeli.

[Queen Coeli]

Speech of the Holy Father delivered

Dear Sisters,

I am very pleased to be able to receive you today on the occasion of your General Assembly and to wish you a Easter time full of peace, joy and passion in bringing the Gospel to all corners of the earth. Yes, Easter is all this and invites us to be witnesses of the Risen One, living a new stage of evangelization marked by joy. No one can steal our passion for evangelization. There is no Easter without a mission: "Go and announce the Gospel to all men" (see Mt 16: 15-20). To his Church the Lord asks to show Christ's triumph over death, he asks to show us his Life. Go sisters and announce the Risen Christ as the source of the joy that nothing and no one can take away from us. Constantly renew your encounter with the Risen Christ and you will be his witnesses, bringing to all the men and women loved by the Lord, especially to those who feel themselves victims of the culture of exclusion, the sweet and comforting joy of the Gospel.

Consecrated life, as Saint John Paul II stated at the time, like any other reality in the Church, is going through a "delicate and tiring" time (Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, n. 13). Faced with the numerical decline in consecrated life, especially in women, the temptation is that of discouragement, resignation or "entrenchment" in "it has always been done this way".

In this context, I strongly repeat to you what I have told you on other occasions: do not be afraid of being few, but of being insignificant, of ceasing to be a light that enlightens those who are immersed in the "dark night" of history. Do not even be afraid of "confessing with humility, and at the same time with great confidence in God, your fragility" (Letter to all consecrated persons, 21 November 2014, i, 1). In fact, be afraid: panic to stop being salt that gives flavor to the lives of the men and women of our society. Work tirelessly to be sentinels who announce the arrival of dawn (see Is 21, 11-12); to be leaven where you are and with whom you are, even if this apparently does not bring tangible and immediate advantages (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, No. 210).

There are many people who need you and are waiting for you. People who need your friend smile who gives them hope; of your hands that support them in their journey; of your word that sows hope in their hearts; of your love in the manner of Jesus (see Jn 13: 1-15) that heals the deepest wounds caused by loneliness, refusal and exclusion. Never give in to the temptation of self-referentiality, of becoming "closed armies". Do not even take refuge "in a work to evade the operational capacity of the charism" (The strength of vocation, n. 56). Rather, develop the fantasy of charity and live creative fidelity to your charisms. With them you will be able to "re-propose the inventiveness and sanctity of the founders" (Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, n. 37), opening new ways to bring the encouragement and light of the Gospel to the different cultures in which live and work in the most varied areas of society, as they did in their time. With them you will be able to revisit your charisms, to go to the root, living the present conveniently, without being afraid of walking, "without allowing water to stop flowing [...]. Consecrated life is like water: if it is stagnant, it rots ”(The strength of vocation, nos. 44-45). In this way, without losing the memory, which is always necessary to live the present with passion, you will avoid both "restorationism" and ideology, of whatever sign, which are so bad for the consecrated life and the Church itself.
And all this with your presence and your humble and discreet service, always animated by free prayer and prayer of adoration and praise. Praying, praising and worshiping is not wasting time. The more we are united to the Lord, the closer we are to humanity, particularly to the humanity that suffers. "Our future will be full of hope", as the motto of this Plenary affirms, and our projects will be projects of the future, to the extent that we will dwell each day before the Lord in the gratuitousness of prayer, if we do not want the wine to be transformed in vinegar and the salt becomes tasteless. It will be possible to know the projects that the Lord has done for us only if we keep our eyes and our heart turned towards the Lord, contemplating his face and listening to his Word (see Ps 33). Only in this way will you be able to awaken the world with your prophecy, the distinctive trait and priority of your being religious and consecrated (see Letter to all consecrated persons, 21 November 2014, ii, 2). The more urgent it is to decentralize to go to the existential peripheries, the more urgent it is to focus on Him and concentrate on the essential values ​​of our charisms.

Among the essential values ​​of religious life is fraternal life in community. I note with great joy the great results achieved in this dimension: more intense communication, fraternal correction, the search for synodality in the guidance of the community, fraternal acceptance with respect for diversity ... but at the same time I am worried that there are brothers and sisters who lead their lives on the fringes of fraternity; sisters and brothers who for years have been illegitimately absent from the community and therefore I have just promulgated a Motu Proprio, Communis vita, with very specific rules to avoid these cases.

As far as fraternal life in community is concerned, I am also concerned that there are Institutes in which multiculturalism and internationalization are not seen as a wealth, but as a threat, and are lived as a conflict, instead of being experienced as new possibilities that show the true face of the Church and of religious and consecrated life. I ask the leaders of the Institutes to open up to the new proper of the Spirit, which blows where it wants and how it wants (see Jn 3: 8) and to prepare the generations of other cultures to take responsibility. Live, sisters, the internationalization of your Institutes as good news. Live the change of face of your communities with joy, and not as a necessary evil for conservation. Internationality and interculturality do not come back.

Generational conflicts worry me, when young people are not able to carry on the dreams of the elderly to make them bear fruit, and the elderly do not know how to accept the prophecy of the young (see Joel 3, 1). How I like to repeat: young people run a lot, but the elderly know the way. In a community both the wisdom of the elderly and the inspiration and strength of the young are necessary.

Dear Sisters, through you I thank all the sisters of your Institutes for the great work they do in the various suburbs where they live. The periphery of education, where educating is always winning, winning for God; the periphery of health, where you are servants and messengers of life, and of a dignified life; and the periphery of pastoral work in its most diverse manifestations, where, witnessing the Gospel with your lives, you are showing the maternal face of the Church. Thank you for what you are and for what you do in the Church. Never stop being women. "It is not necessary to stop being a woman in order to conform" (The strength of vocation, n. 111).
At the same time I ask you: cultivate the passion for Christ and the passion for humanity. Without passion for Christ and for humanity there is no future for religious and consecrated life. Passion will lead you to prophecy, to be fire that kindles other fires. Continue to take steps in the shared mission between different charisms and with the laity, inviting them to important works without leaving anyone without the necessary formation and sense of belonging to the charismatic family. Work on mutual relationships with pastors, including them in your discernment and integrating them into the selection of presences and ministries. The journey of consecrated life, both female and male, is the path of ecclesial insertion. Outside the Church and in parallel with the local Church, things do not work. Pay great attention to both permanent and initial formation and to the formation of formators capable of listening and accompanying, of discerning, meeting those who knock at our doors. And, even in the midst of the trials that we are perhaps going through, live your consecration with joy. This is the best vocational propaganda.

May the Virgin accompany you and protect you with her motherly intercession. For my part, I cordially bless you and I bless all the sisters that the Lord has entrusted to you. And please don't forget to pray for me.
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