Pope Francis says "Consecrated life is an expert in communion; consecrated life...is a promoter of fraternity." FULL TEXT to Religious Life Congress



[August 13-15, 2021]


Dear brothers and sisters:

Greetings to you who participate in this Continental Virtual Congress of Religious Life, convened by CLAR, under the slogan "Towards an Intercongregational, Intercultural and Itinerant Religious Life".

Thanks for this participation. I remind you how important is the challenge that the inculturation of the faith places on us for the consecrated life. How much good it can do us to discover that unity is not uniformity, but multiple harmony (cf. Apostolic Exhortation  Evangelii Gaudium , 220), and let us not forget that it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. A multifaceted harmony to accept differences, value particularities, in a spirit of healthy and open interculturality.

Your presence is necessary so that an inculturated theology can be given and developed, of course, that can be adapted to the local reality, that can be a vehicle for evangelization. Let us not forget that a faith that is not inculturated is not authentic. For this reason, I invite you to enter into what is going to give us in that reality, which is going to give us the true meaning of a culture that is in the soul of the peoples. Enter the life of the faithful people, enter with respect for their customs, their traditions, trying to carry out the mission of inculturating the faith and evangelizing culture. It is a binomial, inculturating the faith and evangelizing culture. Valuing what the Holy Spirit has sown in the peoples, which is also a gift for us ( Ibid . 246).

 When this inculturation does not take place, the Christian life and moreover the consecrated life ends up in the most aberrant and most ridiculous Gnostic positions. We have seen it, for example, in the misuse of the liturgy, for example. The important thing is the ideology and not the reality of the peoples, and that is not the Gospel. Do not forget the binomial: inculturate the faith and evangelize the culture.

Consecrated life is an expert in communion; consecrated life is itinerant, it is a promoter of fraternity. However, in our time you are faced with the temptation of "survival." How many times do you do the math on how many religious or how many religious my congregation has or the decrease curves. Survival is a temptation. It is good to renounce the criterion of numbers, the criterion of effectiveness, which could turn you into fearful disciples, locked in the past and abandoned to nostalgia. That nostalgia that are deep down the siren songs of religious life.

Given this, the most sensible strategy and decision would be to take advantage of the opportunity to travel with the Lord the paths of hope, recognizing that the fruit is under the exclusive guidance of the Holy Spirit.

And what do we have to do? Get into the holy faithful people of God, respect the holy faithful people of God, evangelize, give testimony and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

To help achieve the objective that you have proposed, I would like to remind you that joy, the highest expression of life in Christ, constitutes the best testimony that we can offer to the holy faithful people of God, whom we are called to serve and accompany in their pilgrimage towards the encounter with the Father.

Joy, joy in many ways. Peace, joy, sense of humor. Please ask for that grace. In the exhortation on holiness I wanted precisely to put a chapter on the sense of humor. It is so sad to see consecrated men and women who have no sense of humor, who take everything seriously. Please. To be with Jesus is to be happy, it is also to have the capacity that the sanctity of this sense of humor gives. Read that little chapter in my exhortation on holiness.

I wish you a good virtual meeting. God bless you. May the Holy Spirit grant you the light of his grace so that they can always be men and women of encounter, of fraternity. May the Holy Virgin take care of you. She knows of encounter, of fraternity, of patience, of inculturation. He knows all that. Take care of them. Well, as usual, now I pass the bag. Do not forget to pray for me that I need it a lot. Good meeting.

 Source: Vatican.va