Religious Vows a Witness to Christ in Materialist World, Says Pope

Message to Congregation of the Holy Cross

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 21, 2004 ( In a materialist society, religious show the world that it is possible to follow Christ “unreservedly,” says John Paul II.

This is the instruction he gave in a message sent to Father Hugh Cleary, superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and to all the participants of its general chapter.

“In a world obsessed with material possessions and personal gratification, your witness of evangelical poverty, chastity and obedience will shine for others, showing them what it means to follow Christ completely and unreservedly,” reads the message published today by the Vatican press office.

The Pope invites the religious “to set out boldly ‘into the deep.’ The more fervently you join yourselves to Christ by this gift of your whole self, the fuller does the Church’s life become and the more vigorous and fruitful her apostolate.”

“I am confident that your faithful witness to Christ’s invitation to ‘come and see’ will inspire others to do the same,” the Holy Father continues.

“The recent establishment of the congregation’s new provinces in Haiti and North East India is a clear sign of the fruitfulness of your apostolate for the life of the Church, demonstrating that the Gospel has taken firm root there,” he writes.

“Missionary activity extends the saving faith of the Church, it expands and perfects her catholic unity … and bears witness to her sanctity,” states John Paul II, quoting the Second Vatican Council decree on mission activity, “Ad Gentes.”

“As you consolidate your presence in these and other territories, you contribute to the growth of the Church, you enkindle the flame of hope in the hearts of God’s children, and you carry out the Lord’s injunction to ‘go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news,'” he concludes.

The congregation has 1,670 priests and religious brothers in 15 countries on four continents.

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