Pope to men and women religious: The Church is not a fortress, looking out upon the world

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Pope Francis arrived at the Cathedral of St. Martin for his meeting with religious figures. He was welcomed by a lively crowd and Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky, the president of the Slovak Bishops' Conference. They talked for a few moments before entering the cathedral.

The Pope sprinkled the cathedral entrance with holy water before making his way to the altar.

On his way to the altar, the Pope received a bouquet of flowers from a seminarian and a catechist. He placed the flowers in front of the blessed sacrament.

Then Archbishop Zvolensky addressed Pope Francis on behalf of the bishops, priests, men and women religious, seminarians and catechists present, as well as those who were unable to attend due to pandemic restrictions.

Archbishop of Bratislava
“We perceive your love for the poor, for those in the peripheries, who have been left behind, abandoned, discarded.”

Pope Francis began his speech by expressing his desire to walk with the Church in Slovakia, to share their questions and hopes.

“This is what we need most of all: a Church that can walk together, that can tread the paths of life holding high the living flame of the Gospel. The Church is not a fortress, a stronghold, a lofty castle, self-sufficient and looking out upon the world below.”

Pope Francis focused on three important aspects to keep the Church from becoming self-absorbed: freedom, creativity and dialogue. He even gave members of the clergy some practical advice. The Pope urged them to limit their homilies to 10 minutes and to make sure they were inspired by scripture.

“A professor I had would say that a homily should have internal coherence: an idea, an image and an emotional effect, so that people go home with an idea, an image and something that moved their heart. FLASH (applause) Allow me this one meanness. The applause was started by the nuns, who are victims of our homilies. (laughter)”

The Pope encouraged the faithful in Slovakia to allow past injuries to become opportunities for mercy, instead of letting them breed resentment, mistrust and contempt. He used the example of Cardinal Korec, a Jesuit who was persecuted by the Communist regime.

“Imprisoned and sentenced to forced labor until he fell ill. When he came to Rome for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, he went to the catacombs and lit a candle for his persecutors, imploring mercy for them. This is the Gospel. This is the Gospel.”

After his address, the Pope gave a blessing and greeted the bishops and other religious one by one. Outside the cathedral, he stopped to talk to many of the people gathered, who chanted his name as he walked by.



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