Monasteries Clear Contaminated Air, Says Pope

Proposes Model of Society Centered on God, Brotherhood

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SERRA SAN BRUNO, Italy, OCT. 10, 2011 ( Benedict XVI says that monasteries still have the role of regenerating the environment, just as they did in the Middle Ages.

The Pope emphasized Sunday what he called an “indispensable” function for monasteries, as he addressed the people of Serra San Bruno in southern Italy. He was set to visit the Carthusian monastery of their city during his pastoral journey to Lamezia Terme.

“The very presence of the monastic community, with its long history that dates back to St. Bruno, is a constant call of God, an opening to heaven and an invitation to remember that we are brothers in Christ,” he said.

“If in medieval times [monasteries] were centers of regeneration for swampy territories, today they serve to ‘regenerate’ the environment in another sense,” the Holy Father reflected. At times “the climate breathed in our societies is not healthy, it is contaminated by a mentality that is not Christian, not even human, because it is dominated by economic interests concerned only about earthly things and lacking a spiritual dimension.”

“In this context, not only is God marginalized but also one’s neighbor, and there is no commitment to the common good,” the Pontiff observed. “A monastery instead is a model of a society that puts God and fraternal relationships at the center.”

Bastion of the spirit

Bruno Rosi, the mayor of Serra San Bruno, welcomed the Pope with an address in which he stressed the “inestimable spiritual patrimony” represented by the Carthusian Order. He said that the Pope’s words would remain as a “beautiful support for the path that this city and [the region of] Calabria in general must follow, a path that is not always easy.”

The mayor described John Paul II’s visit to the city on Oct. 5, 1984, as a miracle, and Benedict XVI’s visit on Sunday as a “gift of inestimable value — another miracle.”

“It’s true, two close visits of the Successor of Peter are a privilege for your civil community,” responded the Holy Father. “But, above all, it is a great privilege to have in your territory this ‘bastion’ of the spirit that is the Carthusian monastery.”

The Bishop of Rome added that this privilege is also a great responsibility.

“Make a treasure of the great spiritual tradition of this place,” he told the people, “and try to put it into practice in daily life.”

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