The Pope at the “Claretianum”: “Consecrated life cannot be absent”
50th anniversary of the contribution of the Claretians to the history of the Church
Summary of the Pope’s words at the audience with the Community of the Institute of Theology of Consecrated Life “Claretianum”.
Addressing some 120 members of the Institute of Theology of Religious Life in Rome as they celebrate its 50th anniversary, Pope Francis praises their precious academic work for consecrated life and encourages the Claretian missionaries not to tire of going to the frontiers and being bold in their mission.
You are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Claretian Institute of Theology of Religious Life. In this half century, you have rendered many valuable services in the spirit and mission of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, who did so much to support and promote consecrated life in its various forms. His publications and works have helped me a lot as a trainer of young seminarians. You have aroused in the Church the desire to be close to the communities of consecrated life and to help them.
The contribution of the Claretian Missionaries to religious families, through spiritual accompaniment, doctrinal enlightenment and, above all, legal advice, is known throughout the world. In what is now called the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinals Arcadio María Larraona and Arturo Tabera, as well as Father Jesús Torres, have left their mark – I remember him so much, he was good, always hidden…-, while other missionaries have been and are valid collaborators in this and other Dicasteries. After the Second Vatican Council, the foundation of the Claretianum Institute and that of Madrid, and, following in their footsteps, the Superior Centers of Manila, Bangalore, Bogotá and Abuja, had a very positive result.
His attention to the contributions of the human sciences has contributed to offering a more human face to consecrated life. I am not exaggerating, but you, with your work, have greatly humanized consecrated life. I thank you in a special way for the care you have shown in disseminating the Magisterium of the Church, both from the Popes and from the Dicasteries most closely related to consecrated life. At this time when the Church wants to live her synodal vocation more intensely, I am pleased to note that your service to consecrated life has been marked by the desire to put into practice what Saint Anthony Mary Claret valued so much.
I encourage you to continue serving the consecrated life with a Claretian spirit, that is, being missionaries. Consecrated life cannot be lacking in the Church and in the world. His help to the consecrated, before being intellectual, is a testimony, it is a confession that Jesus is Lord. In them communion must be manifested and the option for the poor and solidarity encouraged, fraternity without borders and the mission in constant outreach.
With this disposition, the gift of consecrated life and its mission in the Church and in the world will be appreciated more. Today, the consecrated life cannot be discouraged by the lack of vocations or by aging. It is the Lord of history who sustains us and invites us to fidelity and fruitfulness. He cares for his “remnant of him”, he looks with mercy and kindness on his work, and continues to send the Holy Spirit from him.
The closer we come to religious life through the Word of God and the history and creativity of the Founders, the more we can live the future with hope. Religious life can only be understood by what the Spirit does in each of the people called. There are those who focus too much on the outside and lose sight of the superabundance of grace that is in people and in communities. The Lord will not stop being close to the people, he will do it in one way or another, but the important thing is Him.
Although I know that you are already facing many challenges of our time, I would like to invite you to underline the value of fidelity in following Jesus, according to the spirit of the Founders, and to care for community life. I exhort you to live interculturality as a way of fraternity and mission, and to promote the encounter between the different generations in consecrated life, in the Church and in society. Young people need to be with the old, they need to talk, and the old need to talk to the young. With this dialogue, with the spirit, the old will dream and the young will prophesy.
Young people will. Let your young serve the old, and let the old serve the young. The old must die dreaming, and those who make the old dream are the young, who must take the place of the old. I thank you very much for the commitment with which you have assumed this call of mine, and I exhort you to always seek new ways of serving the Lord and the holy, faithful people of God.
As I have told you on other occasions, do not be afraid, always cultivate God’s style. St. John Paul II has already warned of the danger that the decrease in the importance of study poses to the consecrated life. Neglecting theology, reflection, study, the sciences, impoverishes the apostolate and fosters superficiality and frivolity in the mission. The problems of our time demand new analyzes and new syntheses.
Your institutes, you teachers, you students, you have a great task ahead of you. The Gospel teaches that there is a poverty that humiliates and kills, and another poverty, that of Jesus, that liberates and makes happy. As consecrated persons, you have received the immense gift of participating in the poverty of Jesus. Do not forget, neither in your lives nor in your work at the university, those who live the other poverty.
May you let life triumph over death and dignity over injustice. « You who love us, free us from the presumption of self-sufficiency and the spirit of worldly criticism. » Dear brothers, dear sisters, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, may the Holy Spirit always assist you in the service you carry out in the Claretianum.