(Source: Novena/Vatican News)

On Friday Pope Francis received members of the Pontifical Latin American College in Rome, and reminded them of the richness that their culture has to offer to Christian communities around the world.

 “Although history has separated our peoples, it has not destroyed the root that unites them in that great work of the evangelisation of America”, the pontiff began in his remarks.

He explained that it is on this premise that the College was born: “A commitment that would unite all our particular Churches and at the same time open them to the universal Church in this city of Rome”.

Open your hearts to what others may bring

Pope Francis went on to note that the seminarians’ experience of communion and openness is a great challenge and can “help heal the world”.

“The Gospel and its message came to our land by human means… and its Word spread to all corners of the continent”, he said, explaining that this “miracle” took place because “both those who arrived and those who received them were able to open their hearts” to what the other could bring. 

Global richness

The Pope then said the Latin American presence has brought huge benefits to Christian communities around the globe: from Northern and Central Europe all the way to the East. He said these communities have found “a new vitality and a renewed drive” from the influence of Latin America.

He used the example of the celebration of the Christ of Miracles, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“The rich cultural mix that made evangelisation possible is being reproduced again today. Latino peoples meet among themselves and with other peoples thanks to social mobility and the facilities of communication, and they too emerge enriched from this encounter”.

This is what seminarians’ formation should be about, continued the Pope: “sowing the Word generously” as God sows.

There are three concrete points of action, said the Pope: “opening the door of your heart and the hearts of those who listen to you; to pitch in and call others to do so with you for the good of all; to heal this world of the great evil that afflicts it and that the pandemic has brought to light”.

Each of these, he continued, have two movements – “personal and communitarian” – which complete one another, Francis said.

Guide your flock

Be shepherds, told the seminarians.

“Surely, in your heads, there are infinite initiatives and I do not doubt that by working hard you will do much good and help many people, but our mission would not be perfect if we stayed at that”, said the Pope.

He urged the members of the College to “fight against a culture of waste, of social segregation, distrust and prejudice because of race, culture or faith”, so that a feeling of fraternity may prevail over any difference.

Cure the world

“Cure the world of the great evil that afflicts it”, continued the pontiff.

“The pandemic has put us in front of the great evil that afflicts our society. Globalisation has overcome all borders, but not our minds and hearts. The virus is spreading unchecked, but we are unable to respond together. The world continues to close its doors, rejecting dialogue and collaboration, refusing to open itself sincerely to common commitment for a good that reaches everyone without distinction”, Francis lamented.

The cure of this evil must come from our roots, concluded the Pope. It must come “from the hearts and souls that will one day be entrusted to them, with concrete proposals in the field of education, catechesis, social commitment, capable of changing mentalities and opening spaces, to heal this evil and give God a united people”.

Finally, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mother, the Guadalupana, Patroness of Latin America, might “sustain hope” in the midst of so many uncertanties, so that each member may respond to the call of God “and be witnesses of the human fraternity that is born of being children of God”.

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