In a world where “the pursuit of personal interests, the ‘virus of selfishness’, threatens peaceful cohesion between peoples”, a powerful testimony of unity is necessary. This is what Pope Francis said to the leaders of the Council of the Union of Priests, Men and Women Religious of Madagascar — who came to Rome with the bishops of the country who are making their visit “ad limina Apostolorum” — received in hearing on the morning of Thursday, October 27, in the Clémentine room.
I am happy to meet you, and I greet the leaders of the Council of the Union of Malagasy Priests, Religious and Nuns for this visit which allows me to get to know you better, as well as your expectations and your hopes as consecrated persons on mission in Rome. . I also greet His Excellency Bishop Marie Fabien, President of the Episcopal Conference, who has worked to ensure that this meeting takes place. Thank you for your presence and your organization.
Your presence today, when your bishops are visiting ad limina, is the expression of your communion of prayer with the spiritual process they are taking near the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Indeed, the fruitfulness of your mission also depends on the unity that you cultivate, among yourselves and with your Pastors. This is very important: unity. It is a testimony that you are invited to bear to our society. “Our world needs unity, this is a time when we all need unity, we need reconciliation, communion and the Church is the House of communion” (General audienceSeptember 25, 2013).
Today, in our societies, and unfortunately sometimes also in the Church, we are witnessing a culture of the search for personal interests. A lot of bad things are said, gossip is the order of the day; please don’t gossip, don’t gossip, always speak well of each other, because gossip is a weapon of disunity. The search for personal interests, the “virus of selfishness”, threatens peaceful cohesion between peoples, as between the sons and daughters of the same country. Faced with this situation, your Council, which brings together Malagasy children who have consecrated their lives to Christ, is proof that life can be lived differently in the light of the Gospel which gives true joy. I therefore encourage you to always walk together, to make your presence here in Rome a precious opportunity that allows you to enrich and renew your faith in the footsteps of the great figures of saints who preceded you here. Learn how to make each day of your Council, a family in which we respect, love and support each other, a place of learning the “civilization of love”. It is in this way that you will then be able to be signs of hope, for your particular Churches and for Madagascar, which expect much from you.
I entrust each of you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she help you to preserve with fidelity your identity as priests, men and women religious in the midst of the changes of this time. May the Virgin Mary intercede for you, so that you can always be open and generous towards your brothers and sisters, especially those who are going through difficult times. Be united, all of you, united, united with the bishops, who are the pastors. I invoke upon you, upon the Church in Madagascar and upon your entire Nation the blessing of God. Please don’t forget to pray for me.