Pope to Ursulines: “Make new life” by attracting people to Christ
By Robin Gomes
Today, no one can say any more: “This does not concern me”. The problems of others are our problems, my problems. They no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. Pope Francis made the point to the Ursuline Sisters, officially known as the Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula.
Our problems, my problems
Commenting on the theme of their General Chapter – “A Global Community moving into new life” – the Pope said, “We find ourselves in a time increasingly interconnected and inhabited by peoples who have come to be part of a “global community”. “Today,” he said, “no one can say any more: “This does not concern me”.
“The protection of human rights, the conquest of freedom of thought and religion, the evangelization of the distant and the near – beginning with oneself -, social justice, the protection of the environment and the common search for sustainable development, the advent of a humanistic economy, of a policy that is truly at the service of man,” the Pope said, “are not ‘problems of others’, but they are our problems, they are my problems; they no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world.
In this regard he pointed to the burning of the Amazon forest saying it is not just a problem in that region, it is a global problem. The migration phenomenon does not affect only some states, but the international community, and so on.
“Make new life”
In the face of this, the Holy Father urged the Ursulines to focus on the hope expressed in the second part of their theme: “Let us go towards a new life”, that echoes the words of their foundress, Saint Angela Merici: “Make new life.”
The Pope said it is possible to make new life by “opening the doors to Christ and imitating him in charity, that is, in His becoming a neighbour to every man and woman of every language, people and nation with great respect for the diversity of the other, both cultural and religious”.
In their charismatic originality, he said they are called to “make new life”, to bring a breath of new life to the ends of the earth, knowing how to be with responsibility in the midst of different peoples, nations and cultures, so that the message of faith, hope and charity that you bring may attract people to Christ.
Conversion and witness
He asked the nuns, to seek through a climate of prayer, the appropriate instruments to pursue their individual and community objectives without losing sight of the vast horizon of humanity for which Jesus gave His life. This task, he said, requires a pastoral conversion of structures, so that they become evermore mission-oriented and “outgoing”, to encourage the response of all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. For this, a coherent witness is needed, beginning from personal conversion.
In this context, the Holy Father particularly encouraged the Ursulines to continue with enthusiasm in their special charism of educating the young, especially in thinking critically and discerning the pros and cons of the means they use, so they mature in values.
Serious human growth in the awareness of values, the Pope said, is only possible by combining education with the proclamation of the Gospel, which is done primarily through personal witness.