On Thursday, Pope Francis met with the Community of Christian Life (CVX) and the Student Missionary League, for the inauguration of the National Conference of the two Italian groups, based on Ignatian spirituality.
The Conference, which will take place on May 3rd in the Italian city of Frascati, has as it’s theme: “Beyond the Walls”.
In his address, the Holy Father recalled to those present that he knows the CVX very well, as he was the national assistant in Argentina in the 1970s. The movement, he said, is rooted with the Marian Congregations, who in turn “arrived during the first generation of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s companions.”
The Pope noted that the CVX anticipated the Second Vatican Council, saying that they highlighted the role and service of the laity within the Church.
The Holy Father set aside his prepared remarks to the movement’s members, preferring to giving them copies. In his prepared remarks, the Pope offered three reflections for their upcoming conference.
Firstly, he addressed the challenge of promoting a culture of justice and peace. “Faced with a culture of illegality, corruption and confrontation, you are called to devote yourselves to the common good, also through service to those linked to politics,” he wrote.
The second reflection he offered was on family pastoral ministry. Following the last Synod of Bishops, the Pope encouraged them “to help diocesan communities in their care for families” as well as “accompanying couples as they prepare for marriage.”
The Holy Father also emphasized the importance of working with those who have “drifted away” from the Church: among them there are many separated couples, “who suffer as a result of the failure of their plans for married life”, and also other difficult family situations.
Finally, he turns his attention to missionary life, and encouraged them to maintain their capacity to “go out towards the frontiers of humanity at its neediest”.
The Pope mentions the members of communities present in Syria, Lebanon and plans for the reception of immigrants in Sicily, and reminds them that, “in this luminous and fruitful apostolic style, you too can be active in inspiring the various educational institutions in Italy, Catholic and state-managed, as in other parts of the world”.
Rounding out his address, the 78 year old Pontiff reminded those present that “St. Ignatius understood that in order to renew society, the youth needed to be the starting point and for that reason, he boosted the opening of colleges, where the first Marian Congregations were born.”
“On the basis of this pastoral action – the Pope continued – there is always the joy of the evangelical witness, combined with the delicacy of closeness and respect for the other.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis invoked the Virgin Mary, “who with her Yes inspired your founders, may She help you to respond without reservations to the vocation of being ‘light and salt’ in the environments in which one lives and works.”