John Paul II Urges Proclamation of God in the Face of an "Empty Culture"

Addresses General Chapter of Salesian Sisters

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2002 ( John Paul II challenged the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Salesian Sisters, to give hope to a world characterized by injustice and lack of values.

The Pope made this proposal today when he met at midday with participants in the general chapter of this religious family, founded by St. John Bosco and St. Maria Dominga Mazzarello in Italy in 1872.

“In a time marked by a worrying culture, empty and senseless, proclaim resoundingly the supremacy of God who always listens to the cry of the oppressed and the afflicted,” he said.

The Holy Father explained that this plan calls the Salesians to “bear witness to hope on so many frontiers of the modern world, knowing how to find, with missionary audacity, new ways of evangelization and human promotion, especially in the service of younger generations.”

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are active in 89 countries and number 15,703 women religious dedicated to the education of schoolgirls, parish and youth centers, and places of mission and marginalization.

The theme of the general chapter, which confirmed Mother Antonia Colombo as superior general for six more years, was “In the Renewed Covenant, the Commitment of an Active Citizen.”

To be able to carry out their mission, the Salesians need “above all to maintain constant communion with Jesus, contemplating incessantly his face in prayer and then serving him, through your brothers, with all your energies,” the Pope said.

In this connection, John Paul II explained that sanctity is the “basic and urgent duty” of the Salesians.

“It is the best contribution that you can make to the new evangelization, as well as the guarantee of an authentic evangelical service for those most in need,” he said.

After recalling the heroic faithfulness of some of the members of this religious family, at times confirmed by martyrdom, the Pope said that the Salesian nuns must follow in their footsteps “in environments which are sometimes marked by tension and fear, by opposing positions and divisions, and by extremism and violence, which are capable of obscuring hope.”

The “vast horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to bear witness to the Gospel message to all, without distinctions, make up the field of your apostolate,” John Paul II concluded.

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