Pope Francis' important message on the 'vocations crisis' at the end of the Year of Consecrated Life
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Pope Francis concluded the Year for Consecrated Life before a crowd of thousands in the Paul VI hall on Monday. During the conclusion, Pope Francis spoke of obedience, the importance of reaching out to Christians and non-Christians alike and concluded with talks of hope.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Though the pontiff had prepared remarks, Radio Vatican reported Pope Francis set them aside to speak from the heart, as he has done on several occasions in the past.
The Holy Father spoke at an event to close the Year for Consecrated Life and called on consecrated men and women to reach out to the lost.
Speaking directly to the men and women who have given their lives to God, the pontiff admitted he is tempted to lose hope in the crisis of vocations, which many have blamed on students' inability to pay off student loans prior to entering their vocations.
Pope Francis asked, "What is happening? Why is the womb of consecrated life sterile?" Rather than standing for a quick fix, the Holy Father called for long-term plans, saying some religious "congregations experiment with 'artificial insemination,'" in which they accept anyone into their cloisters, which leads to several problems.
The pontiff demanded vocations processes require "seriousness, and one must discern well that this is a true vocation and help it grow."
After handing his prepared remarks to Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Institutes for Apostolic Life, Pope Francis admitted he would rather speak from the heart, "because it's a bit boring to read."
If the rules or requirements are ever unclear, Pope Francis led the religious to always obey the final word, saying, "This is prophecy - against the seeds of anarchy, which are sown by the devil." When people do what they want, "anarchy of the will" is produced, which is "the child of the devil, not God."
Pope Francis spoke of Jesus, adding that he was not an anarchist and did not collect his disciples to fight his enemies. Jesus even pleaded for God to "take this cup from me," yet still asked his Father's will be done.
The pontiff explained the Church is meant to follow Jesus' example. Should they be told to do something they do not like, they must- At this point Pope Francis gestured he was taking a large pill and gulping it down, then explained, "Since my Italian is so poor I have to speak sign language...one must stomach obedience."
The Holy Father spoke to the consecrated, saying there are "not to distance [themselves] from people and live in comfort," but that they have been called to remain by Christians and non-Christians alike to offer love and attention.
Pope Francis then warned against the evils of gossip within the Church, saying, "I know that you never gossip in your communities. Never, ever! Whoever gossips is a terrorist. If you feel like saying something against a brother or sister, bite your tongue. Hard. No terrorism in your communities."
Instead of spreading gossip, Pope Francis urged the consecrated to handle differences face-to-face, but when general chapters or open forums involving the community take place, people must voice their concerns openly.
"In public, you have to say everything you feel because there is the temptation to not say things during the chapter [meetings]. During this Year of Mercy, if each one of you were able to never be a gossip-terrorist it would be a success for the Church, a success of great holiness. Be brave!"
Following the pontiff's speech, he thanked the religious men and women for their work, and focused for a moment on the women, saying, "What would the church be if there were no sisters?"
The concluded and, with that, Pope Francis marked the closure of the Year for Consecrated Life.
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