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Pope Francis challenges religious to witness to Christ’s poverty

Catholic World News - March 10, 2014

In the midst of a world characterized by an “economy of exclusion and inequality” and the “spiritual and moral frailty of so many people, especially youth,” religious are called to witness to Gospel poverty, Pope Francis said in a message to the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

In his message, written on the occasion of a symposium devoted to the administration of religious institutes’ goods, the Pope wrote that religious should work to ensure that the “principle of gratuitousness and the logic of the gift find their place in economic activity.”

Because the “logic” of the consecrated life is that of being a gift, “the fidelity to the founding charism and subsequent spiritual heritage, together with the proper aim of each institute, remain the first criterion of evaluation of the administration, management, and all the operations made in the institution at every level,” Pope Francis continued.

Calling upon religious institutes to manage their goods “with caution and transparency” and not to “tolerate waste,” Pope Francis, citing Pope Paul VI, challenged religious to witness to Gospel poverty in a culture that is “all absorbed” in the enjoyment of economic goods.

“You do not need theoretical poverty,” he said. Rather, religious should be conformed to the poor Christ: “this poverty is a solidarity full of love, sharing, and charity, and is expressed in sobriety, in the pursuit of justice and joy of the essential,” and is learned “by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, in the poor, in the sick, in children.”

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