Pope Francis to women religious: “Thank you for you who are, for what you do, and for how you do it.”
- The new Pope Video, which presents the prayer intentions that Pope Francis entrusts to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, is dedicated to the mission of religious sisters and consecrated women.
- In a message in which he describes women religious as vital for the life of the Church, Francis exhorts them to “keep working and to have an impact with the poor, with the marginalized, with all those who are enslaved by traffickers.”
- The Pope recognizes that they are often treated unjustly (even within the Church), but he encourages them to continue their apostolic works and asks us to pray that they will continue to find new answers in the face of today’s challenges.
(Vatican City, February 1, 2022) – The Pope Video for February has just been released with the prayer intention that Francis entrusts to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. This month, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude for the mission and courage of religious sisters and consecrated women, and asks for prayers for them that they may “continue to find new responses to the challenges of our times.”
In this video, made with the support and collaboration of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), which brings together more than 1,900 religious congregations, Francis reaffirms the role of women who dedicate themselves to consecrated life. His message is forceful: “What would the Church be without religious sisters and consecrated laywomen? The Church is unintelligible without them.”
According to statistics published by the Fides news agency in 2021, there are more than 630,000 women religious throughout the world.
Preferential option for the poor and marginalized
In continuity with the message that he has repeated on innumerable occasions throughout his pontificate, Francis asks religious sisters and consecrated women to center their apostolic work on having “an impact with the poor, with the marginalized, with all those who are enslaved by traffickers.”
The Pope Video this month, with videos and photographs, tells the story of their complete commitment: among native peoples, at the side of street children, in villages where food and medicine are lacking, among migrants and the unemployed, and at the side of victims of human trafficking. It does this without forgetting, however, their great intellectual and civil contribution: indeed, religious sisters and consecrated women teach at universities, participate in international summits on the environment, and mediate in situations of political crises.
Religious sisters and consecrated women in the life of the Church
In the Pope Video, Francis also recognizes that sometimes women religious are “treated unjustly, even within the Church.” For this reason, he calls them to fight against it and not to be discouraged; he asks them to keep showing “the beauty of God’s love and compassion as catechists, theologians, and spiritual guides” and “through the apostolic works they do.”
Sr. Jolanta Kafka, President of the UISG, commented on the Pope Video: “We, as religious, feel very encouraged and called by Pope Francis, both in our community life and in the challenges we face today in our mission. To his invitation to pray for the religious sisters and consecrated women of the world, we join prayer for all the women, men, and children, and especially young people whom we encounter each day in our ministry. We share with them the dynamism of the vocation to which we are called, to participate in the joy of the Gospel and in hope, in a world where we are all brothers and sisters. With UISG, we feel the responsibility to respond to Pope Francis’ words, to continue with courage and joy our mission to bear witness to the beauty of consecration: giving ourselves totally for the Kingdom, following Jesus’ example.”
On his part, Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, added: “The hundreds of thousands of religious sisters and consecrated women contribute an incalculable value to the life and mission of the Church throughout the world. I received all of my formation with religious sisters and I have worked with many of them, as well as with consecrated women, on pastoral, educational, and social proposals to respond to the challenges of today’s world. They form part of my best experiences in my mission. I also received my formation with numerous lay men and women, who give themselves generously in the mission; nevertheless, it’s very different to work with religious sisters, with whom, as a Jesuit, I share a lifestyle and a similar perspective at the service of the Gospel and of the promotion of the justice of the Kingdom of God. Not to mention the many religious sisters who also taught me theology and the Bible, or contributed to my formation through spiritual accompaniment. This month is a good occasion for all of us to get to know them better in their diversity, and to discover their contribution to the mission of the Church and the challenges of our time.”
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About The Pope Video
The Pope Video is an official global initiative with the purpose of disseminating the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intentions. It is carried out by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). Since the year 2016, The Pope Video has had more than 167 million views across all its social networks, and is translated into more than 23 languages, receiving press coverage in 114 countries. The videos are produced and created by the team of The Pope Video of the Prayer Network, coordinated by Andrea Sarubbi, with the support of La Machi Communication for Good Causes agency. The project is supported by Vatican Media. More information at: The Pope Video
About the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is a Vatican foundation, with the mission of mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action in response to the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church. These challenges are presented in the form of prayer intentions entrusted by the Pope to the entire Church. The foundation’s mission is inscribed in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus, a mission of compassion for the world. It was founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer. It is present in 89 countries and is made up of more than 22 million Catholics. It includes a youth branch, the EYM: Eucharistic Youth Movement. In December 2020, the Pope constituted this pontifical work as a Vatican foundation and approved its new statutes. Its international director is Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ. For more information, visit: https://www.popesprayer.va
About the International Union of Superiors General (UISG)
The International Union of Superiors General was created in 1965, inspired by the Second Vatican Council, to promote more profound collaboration among congregations of women in the apostolic religious life. Currently, the UISG is composed of more than 1,900 Superiors General throughout the world, organized in 36 constellations. As an international organism rooted in Christ and representing congregations of women religious throughout the world, the UISG seeks to bear witness to and proclaim the identity of apostolic religious life in all its diversity. Weaving global solidarity and opening new frontiers, we encourage, support, and stimulate the leadership of religious to be a prophetic voice and a testimony in the Church and in the world. The UISG maintains relationships with various Departments of the Holy See, especially with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL). More information at: uisg.org.
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