Friday, April 12, 2019

Greetings for a Confraternity

At 11:40am this morning (5:40am EDT), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in Audience the members of the Archicofradia de la Virgen de la Cinta (Confraternity of the Virgin of the Ribbon) from Tortosa (Spain) on the occasion of the IV centenary of their foundation.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to members of the
Confraternity of the Virgin of the Ribbon

Dear Confreres and devotees of the Virgin of the Ribbon,

I am pleased to receive you here on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the foundation of this association of the faithful consecrated to the worship of our Mother. I greet Archbishop Enrique Benavent, Bishop of Tortosa, and Mrs. Meritxell Roigé, Mayor of the city, who accompany you on this pilgrimage.

Since its inception, the confraternity of Our Lady of the Ribbon has been linked to the successor of Peter. A few months after the formation of the brotherhood, which was approved by the bishop of that city, Luis de Tena, they wanted it to be confirmed by Pope Paul V. And now, with this pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter, they wish to renew that bond of communion.

This gesture of faithfulness is not something of the past that arouses only a mere historical interest, rather it keeps this relevance alive. You call yourselves brothers, brothers, and in that way you reveal the fundamental reality of our lives, that we are all children of God. Etymologically, brotherhood means union of brothers. But it is not enough to say that we are brothers; we must always remember that foundational unity that marks us as such. The brothers we know often argue, and fight over so many things, but even when that happens, they know how to keep alive that search for a good that can not exclude peace and harmony between them. And when they fail to do so, they suffer. The bond of charity that unites them as brothers with their Bishop and, through him, with the Pope, constitutes an important gift that enriches them but also entails a mission: to be a ferment of solidarity in society.

Looking at the example of Mary, we are called to bring that fraternity to all corners of society. You are present in different ecclesial realities in your diocese, in this way they collaborate so that the Church is first of all a house, a family, a place of welcome and love, in which everyone, especially the poor and the marginalized, can feel included and never see themselves excluded or rejected. Living in this way, fraternity becomes a mission, which challenges and does not leave us indifferent, because the mutual love that goes out and is directed towards others is our letter of presentation. Thus, even of those who do not have faith, you can say that eulogy of Tertullian: Look how they love each other (Apologeticum, 39: PL I, 471).

To live in this way, as united brothers, supposes effort and renunciation, but I assure you that it is worthwhile, because it is a sign to society which is always divided, fraternity is not fashionable now, it was always and it is still a social sin to divide us. That is why every manifestation of brotherhood and of solidarity helps. I encourage you in your task to be a sign before the world of that fraternity that comes from God.

May the Lord bless and sustain you always, and may the Holy Virgin care for you and accompany you in this work of consolidating fraternity.  And, please, do not forget to pray for me.

Thank you very much.
Original text in Spanish

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