Friday, November 7, 2014

Fists are better than the terrorism of gossip, Francis tells Italy’s religious superiors

Today the Pope received 103 Italian religious superiors who held an assembly ahead of the Year of Consecrated Life. “The charism is not is not to be kept like a bottle of distilled water”


“If you have something against your brother, you tell him to his face: sometimes you might end in a fist fight, but this is better than the terrorism of gossip.” Today Pope Francis received Italian religious superiors and urged them “to help the Church to grow by making it attractive”, not by acting like proselytes. He encouraged them to help charisms “flourish” and said that these need to be lived in the context of the current realities and cultures we live in ("The charism is not a bottle of distilled water”). He urged them to make the Church a model of fraternity despite “diversity” for the whole of society.

The Italian Conference of Major Superiors (CISM), led by Fr. Luigi Gaetani, met in Tivoli today, for the 54th national assembly on the theme “The Church’s Mission and Consecrated Life in light of the Evangelii Gaudium”. 103 Italian provincial fathers responded to the challenges and questions Francis put before them, particularly in his Apostolic Exhortation. The fathers represented the over 18 thousand clerics ministering across Italy. From Salesians (2300 plus) to the Minims (88), from the Capuchins (2049) to the Friars Minor(1953), to the Trapists (29), to members of the Boccone del Povero institute (43), to the Ardorini missionaries (42). Then there are the Jesuits (553 of them), the Guanellians (183), the Orionines and so on until we get to the last in terms of alphabetical order: the Venturini and Verbite Missionaries and the Vocationalists. “They are often at missionary outposts on the border and take huge health and life risks,” the Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Franciscan monsignor, José Carballo. The Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Mgr. Nunzio Galantino  also attended the meeting which was held ahead of the Year of Consecrated Life in 2015 (an initiative introduced by Francis , which will take place between 29 November 2014 and 2 February 2016). “We do not want to fight a rearguard action or a battle of defence but devote ourselves to the people,” Fr. Gaetani said introducing today’s meeting with Francis.

“Above all,” Francis said to them, a Jesuit and religious himself, “religious life helps, the Church mainly, to make itself attractive so it can grow, because when someone sees a brother or a sister living a true religious life, they ask themselves: “What is the story behind this?” “What drove that person beyond the worldly horizon?” The first this is to help the Church grow by making it an attractive place, without being concerned with proselytising.” All Christians in different ways are asked to make this decision, but we as religious men are called to bear prophetic witness to it.” “True prophesy,” Francis said continuing off the cuff, “is never ideological but rather institutional in its own right.” “It is not ‘fashionable’, but it is always a sign of contradiction according to the Gospel, as Jesus was.” “Jesus, for example, was a sign of contradiction for the religious authorities of his time: the heads of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the doctors of the Law. Also for other options and proposals: Essenes, zealots, etc. A sign of contradiction.”

Finally, “a clear sign religious life is called to give today is that of a fraternal life. And please do not let the terrorism of gossip spread among you, shoo it away! "Let there be fraternity, and if you have something against your brother, say it to his face … Sometimes it might end is a fist fight -- this is not a problem: this is better than the terrorism of gossip," he said.  Today’s dominant and individualistic culture is a culture which erodes society starting from its very core, the family. But consecrated life can help the Church and the whole of society bear witness to fraternity, showing taht it is possible to live together as brothers despite diversity: this is important! As a member of a community you do not choose its other members beforehand, you ding different characters, ages, educational backgrounds, sensitivities...and yet we choose to live like brothers. We do not always manage this, of course, we often make mistakes because we are sinners. But we admit when we have done something wrong, we ask for forgiveness and we offer forgiveness. And this is good for the Church. It spreads the body of the Church, the lymph of fraternity. And it is good for society.” Yesterday, Poep Francis received the Prefect and Secretary of the Vatican dicastery responsible for Consecrated Life, Brazilian cardinal João Braz de Aviz and José Rodríguez Carballo.
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