Yesterday, Pope Francis received, in the Paul VI Hall, the Community of Christian Life (CVX) and the Students’ Missionary League, on the occasion of the opening of the Italian National Congress of the two groups of Ignatian spirituality, taking place at Frascati from today until May 3, on the topic “Beyond the Walls.”
The Holy Father departed from his prepared remarks, which we publish here below:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet all of you, who represent the Community of Christian Life of Italy, and the exponents of various groups of Ignatian spirituality, close to your formative tradition and committed in evangelization and human promotion. A particular greeting goes to the students and former students of the “Massimo” Institute of Rome, as well as to the representations of other schools directed by the Jesuits in Italy.
I know your Association well, having been a National Assistant in Argentina at the end of the 60s. Your roots sink in the Marian Congregations, which go back to the first generation of the companions of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. It has been a long journey in which the Association has distinguished itself in the whole world for the intense spiritual life and apostolic zeal of its members, and anticipating, in certain ways, the dictates of Vatican Council II regarding the role and service of the lay faithful in the Church. In the track of this perspective, you chose the theme of your Congress, which is entitled “Beyond the Walls.”
Today I would like to offer you some guidelines for your spiritual and communal journey.
The first: the commitment to spread the culture of justice and peace. In face of the culture of illegality, of corruption and of dispute, you are called to dedicate yourselves to the common good, also through service to people that identify themselves in politics. As Blessed Paul VI affirmed, “it is the highest and most demanding form of charity.” If Christians were to disengage from direct commitment in politics, it would be to betray the mission of the lay faithful, called to be salt and light in the world, also through this way of presence.
As second apostolic priority I point out the family pastoral, in the track of the reflections of the last Synod of Bishops. I encourage you to help the diocesan communities in supporting engaged couples to marriage. At the same time, you can collaborate in hospitality to the so-called “estranged”: among them, not a few are separated, who suffer because of the failure of their plan of conjugal life, as well as other situations of family hardship, which can render laborious the journey of faith and life in the Church.
The third guideline I suggest to you is 'missionizing'. I learned with pleasure that you have undertaken a common path with the Students’ Missionary League, which has projected you on the streets of the world, in the encounter with the poorest and with communities most in need of pastoral workers. I encourage you to maintain this capacity to go out to the frontiers of most needy humanity. Today you have invited delegations of members of your communities present in countries twinned with you, especially in Syria and Lebanon: martyred people by terrible wars; I renew to them my affection and solidarity. These populations are experiencing the hour of the cross; therefore, we must have them feel the love, closeness and support of the whole Church. May your solidaristic bond with them confirm your vocation to weave everywhere bridges of peace.
Your style of fraternity, which has you committed also in projects of hospitality for migrants in Sicily, render you generous in the education of young people, be it within your Association, be it in the ambit of schools. Saint Ignatius understood that to renew society it was necessary to begin with young people and he stimulated the opening of colleges. And the first Marian Congregations were born in them. In the luminous and fecund wake of this apostolic style, you can also be active in the animation of the various educational, Catholic and State institutions, present in Italy, as is already the case in many parts of the world. At the base of your pastoral action there must always be the joy of evangelical witness, united to the delicacy of the approach and to respect of the other
May the Virgin Mary, who with her “yes” inspired your Founders, enable you to respond without reservations to the vocation to be “light and salt” in the environments in which you live and work. May my blessing also accompany you, which I impart of you and to your families from my heart. Please, do not forget to pray for me.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]