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Franciscans, Dominicans brought needed renewal to 13th-century Church, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - January 13, 2010

At his weekly public audience on January 13, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the influence of the mendicant religious orders that arose in the 13th century, particularly the Franciscans and Dominicans. Their founders, St. Francis and St. Dominic, initiated a “stable and profound ecclesial renewal,” the Pope told his audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI auditorium.

Sts. Francis and Dominic “were able to read the signs of the times,” the Pope said. The Church needed true reform, because the heretical movements of that age—the Albigensians and Cathars—were capitalizing on the “disorder that really did exist in the Church,” he added. The mendicant orders demonstrated that Catholics could renounce material possessions—as these sects did—“without separating oneself from the Church.” On the contrary, the religious orders made a special point of being “united in their complete adherence to Church teaching and authority.”

The modern world should profit from the example of these religious reformers, the Pope told his audience. He explained: “Today too, although we live in a society in which ‘having’ often prevails over ‘being,’ we are still receptive to examples of poverty and solidarity.” Just as the Franciscans and Dominicans helped to bring Christian renewal to the societies of the 13th century, Christian apostleship can do the same today.

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