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Contemplative religious are ‘sentinels of the morning,’ Pope says

October 28, 2016

“Consecrated life is a gift to the Church, it is born of the Church, it grows in the Church, and it is entirely directed to the Church,” Pope Francis said in an October 28 address to participants in an International Congress for Episcopal Vicars and Delegates for Consecrated Life.

The Pope said that bishops should welcome religious communities “with joy and gratitude, expressing benevolence, paternity, and attentive love.” At the same time, he said, the autonomy granted to a religious institution “cannot be confused with isolation or independence.”

In the foundation of new religious institutes, the Pope said that bishops should be aware of the constant emergence of new charisms. “The Spirit never ceases to breathe where and when He wishes,” the Holy Father said. He suggested that the bishop should weigh the charism of a new institution and its effect on the universal Church. “Likewise,” he continued, “he must confirm that the founder or foundress has demonstrated proven ecclesial maturity, with a life that does not contradict the action of the Holy Spirit.”

Addressing the relationship between religious communities and local bishops, the Pope said:

There exist no mutual relations in which some command and others submit, out of fear or convenience. There are instead mutual relations where there are dialogue, respectful listening, mutual hospitality, encounter and understanding, the shared search for truth, and the desire for fraternal collaboration for the good of the Church, which is the ‘home of communion.

Before concluding his talk, Pope Francis said that bishops should be particularly attentive to communities of contemplative sisters. These, he said, are “torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time,” and “sentinels of the morning, heralding the dawn.”

 
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