No tags :(

Catholic World News – May 18, 2015

Pope Francis met with male and female religious of the Diocese of Rome on May 16 and, in the course of his extemporaneous answers to four questions, reflected on the role of women, especially women religious.

Answering a question on urban monasteries, the Pontiff recalled that six or seven months ago, he received a letter from a cloistered nun who told him that she was spending less time in the cloister in order to serve the poor in the world and that “my cloister is the world.” Stating that she was making a mistake, he said he answered her, “Do you have a portable grate?”

With “prudence and discernment,” he added, some nuns might offer sandwiches to the poor at their monastery for a half hour per week, and the smile they offer will assist the poor more than the bread will. The monastic vocation, though, is ultimately a vocation to the battle of intercessory prayer.


Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for four new women saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 17. The pope canonized four 19th-century Palestinian nuns.

Answering a question from a consecrated virgin in the world, the Pope emphasized that “the Church is feminine” and that women religious are called to reflect “the fidelity, the love, the tenderness of Mother Church and Mother Mary” in concrete ways. He urged consecrated women to reflect frequently on the Sermon on the Mount, which he called “the first encyclical of the Church,” and on Matthew 25, “the protocol on which we all will be judged.”

In answer to a question from a male religious who is a parish priest, Pope Francis spoke of the tensions that sometimes exist between a bishop and religious superiors. He said that in 1994, the Synod of Bishops called for an updating of Mutuae Relationes, the 1978 document on the relations between bishops and religious, and that the document still has yet to be updated.

Asked by a religious-order priest how “to enhance the presence of women and in particular of consecrated women in the Church,” Pope Francis repeated that the consecrated woman is an icon of Mary and the Church. “The mystery of Christ is a mystery of obedience, and obedience is fruitful,” he added.

The charism of spiritual direction, he continued, is different from the Sacrament of Penance, and the examination of conscience that precedes each is different. The wisest nun in a community can offer spiritual direction to younger nuns who have examined what is transpiring in their hearts.

Women can be the heads of “some [curial] dicasteries” and lead universities, but this, the Pope said, is “simple functionalism. That is not to rediscover the role of women in the Church.” The “essential role of women,” he continued, consists in the expression of “the feminine genius.”