VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is underlining the essential role of consecrated life in the Church, as something desired by Christ.
This was the focal point of an address the Pope gave today to the bishops of Brazil who are in Rome for their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.
The Pontiff said, “In face of the decreasing numbers of the members in many institutes and their aging, evident in some parts of the world, many wonder if consecrated life is today a proposal capable of attracting young men and women.”
However, he noted, “consecrated life as such has its origin in the Lord himself who chose for himself this form of virgin life, poor and obedient.”
The Holy Father continued, “That is why consecrated life can never be lacking or die in the Church: It was desired by Jesus himself as irremovable part of his Church.”
Thus, he added, this calls for a “general commitment in the vocational pastoral program.”
Benedict XVI stated, “If consecrated life is a good of the whole Church, something that is of interest to all, the pastoral program that seeks to promote vocations to the consecrated life must also be a commitment felt by all: bishops, priests, the consecrated and the laity.”
In this context, the Pope mentioned the conciliar decree “Perfectae Caritatis,” which affirms that “the renewal of the institutes depends above all on the formation of the members.”
He underlined the importance of “a fundamental affirmation for the whole form of consecrated life,” because “the formative capacity of an institute, both in its initial phase as well as in successive phases, is at the center of the whole process of renewal.”
The Pontiff affirmed that if, in fact, consecrated life “is in itself a progressive assimilation of Christ’s sentiments, it seems evident that such a path cannot but last the whole of life, to commit the whole person, to make him similar to the Son who gives himself to the Father for humanity.”
He continued, “Conceived thus, formation is not just a pedagogical time of preparation for vows, but it represents a theological way of thinking of consecrated life itself, which is in itself formation that is never finished, participation in the Father’s action who, through the Spirit, infuses in the heart […] the sentiments of the Son.”
Hence, the Holy Father reminded the bishops that each particular Church “is the generous point of arrival of a universal mission, the flowering ‘here and now’ of the universal Church.”
He stated that the “correct relationship between the universal and the particular is verified not when the universal retreats before the particular, but when the particular opens to the universal and allows itself to be attracted and valued by it.”
In the Church, Benedict XVI said, “unity and plurality are not only unopposed but enrich one another mutually in the measure in which they endeavor to build the one Body of Christ, the Church, through the love that unites all in perfection.”
In this sense, he said, the religious community, as a “chosen portion of the People of God,” “enriches the Church of which it is a living part, first of all with its love: It loves its particular Church, enriches it with its charisms and opens it to a more universal dimension.”