Pope Francis to consecrated youth: service without stint

Pope Francis to consecrated youth: service without stint

Pope Francis received a group of young people in consecrated life on Thursday morning. The special audience was the highlight of the International Congress for Young People in Consecrated Life taking place in Rome this week, in the context of the ongoing Year of Consecrated Life, which will close on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Feb. 2nd), 2016.

Putting his prepared remarks aside, the Holy Father answered a series of three questions from the participants. The questions covered areas ranging from the Holy Father’s own first calling to religious life, to the mission of consecrated young people in the Church today, to the advice the Holy Father might have for young people who have completed their formation and lived some time in religion and are anxious not to lose the impetus of their original vocation – the “fire in the belly” as it were.

The Holy Father went on to renew his repeated warning against the danger of gossip in religious life. “Never!” he said, “Never: gossip is the plague of community life,” once again comparing the gossiping person in religious life to a terrorist who throws a bomb into the midst of the community.

In a particularly candid moment of the particularly frank and unguarded exchange, Pope Francis returned to the first question, about his memory of his first conscious experience of a vocation to religious life. “Memory,” he said. “You asked me to share my memory – how it was – that first call on September 21st, 1953 – but I don’t know how it was: I know that, by chance, I walked into church, I saw a confessional, and I came out different.”