Saturday, April 7, 2018

Meeting with the Priests of Prado

At 11:15am this morning (5:15am EDT), in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the Association of Priests of Prado.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to the Priests of Prado

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome, as members of the Prado family, committed to giving your lives every day and to following the example of Father Antoine Chevrier in service to the poor.  This meeting offers me an opportunity to join you in thanking the Lord for the journey that has been completed since the time when your Blessed founder, who was struck by the desperation of those in his time who were being ignored, decided to draw close to them so that they could come to know and to love Jesus Christ.  Since that time, the plant has continued to grow and to flourish: you are now a beautiful family of priests, sisters and consecrated lay women, spread across various countries, enlivened by the love of Jesus who made himself poor among the poor, and by a gift of ardour to evangelize.

Our times also know their own poverty, old poverty and new forms too, material and spiritual, there are so many all around us who are suffering, wounded, there are miseries and anxieties of all kinds.  These people are often far away from the Church and completely ignore the joy and consolation that comes from the gospel.  There is an immense mission to be carried out among them and Mother Church is happy to be able to count on the support of the disciples of Father Chevrier.  In fact, I cannot refuse to approve and to encourage the pastoral action that you are accomplishing according to the charism that is proper to your institutes, a charism that personally moves me and which is at the heart of the missionary renewal to which the entire Church is called; for there exists an intimate connection between evangelization and human development, which must be expressed in the development of all evangelizing activity (Evangelii gaudium, 178).

On the occasion of the Beatification of Father Chevrier, which took place in Lyon in 1986, the Holy Father, John Paul II, suggested various orientations - of which you are well aware - to strengthen your dynamism, and for my part, I renew these suggestions.  To quote only one of them, Pope John Paul asked: Speak of Jesus Christ with the same intensity of faith as Father Chevrier did ... The poor have the right to hear about Jesus Christ.  They have the right to the gospel and to the totality of the gospel (Speech to the Prado Institute, 7 October 1986).  I want to recall the fact that the majority of the poor have a particular openness to faith; they need God, and the lack of spiritual attention toward them constitutes the most serious form of discrimination: The preferential option for the poor should translate principally into a favoured and prioritized religious attention (EG, 200).

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to return again and again to the magnificent figure of your founder, to meditate upon his life, to ask for his intercession.  The spiritual experience that he so intensely experienced - an immense compassion for the poor, understanding and sharing in their suffering and, at the same time, contemplating the stripping of Jesus who made himself one of us - was the source of his apostolic ardour.  And it will also be evident in your missionary dynamism.

May the Holy Spirit illuminate the paths that you are called to travel; comfort you in the face of the challenges and difficulties you must face.  Entrusting your Institutes and all your members to the intercession of Blessed Antoine Chevrier, I pray that the Virgin Mary will keep you under her maternal protection, and I impart to all of you my Apostolic blessing.

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