VATICAN CITY: Emphasising the importance of the religious vocation, Pope Francis announced on November 29, 2015 would be dedicated to consecrated life.
The Holy Father made the announcement during the 82nd General Assembly of the Union of Superior Generals, which concluded in Rome.
Although a brief meeting with the union was planned, Pope Francis spent three hours in a question-and-answer discussion with participants.
The Holy See Press Office said the first questions to the Pope dealt with the mission and identity of consecrated life.
“A radical approach is required of all Christians, but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: They are men and woman who can awaken the world,” he said.
“Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to ‘domesticate’ them.
“This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord.”
While acknowledging that vocations in young Churches are “bearing fruit”, Pope Francis said the Church itself must re-evaluate its “inculturation of charism”.
Citing the example of the Servant of God Matteo Ricci, Pope Francis told participants the Church must ask “forgiveness for, and looking with shame upon, apostolic failures caused by misunderstandings in this field”.
Ricci, a 17th century Jesuit priest, was one of the founders of the Jesuit Mission in China.
Regarding the formation of religious, the Pope called on the Union of Superior Generals to avoid all forms of hypocrisy and clericalism. Formation, he said, was not a watchdog but rather, “an artisanal craft”.
“Its aim is to form religious persons with a tender heart, not acid, not like vinegar,” he said.
“We are all sinners, but not corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted, but not the corrupt.”
He also emphasised the importance of the educational mission of schools and universities.
“The pillars of education are transmitting knowledge, transmitting methods, transmitting values,” he said.
“By these means, faith is communicated. The educator must measure up to those he educates, and must give careful thought to how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a changing generation.”