Pope John Paul II received Benedictine Abbots and Priors at Castelgandolfo this morning and encouraged them to “stay faithful” to their history, noting the valuable witness of their monastic communities that remind the secularized world of God and create “vital spaces” in which to encounter Him.
The Pope urged the abbots, who are gathered together for the Congress of the Abbots and Priors of the Benedictine Confederation and the meeting of "Communio Internationalis Benedictarum," not to be discouraged "by the problems of our time."
"Stay faithful to your history,” he urged, “Our secularized world is in debt to you for the witness of your communities which put God at the center. Many bishops ask to have these vital spaces for encountering Our Lord in their dioceses. Through the liturgy, study and work, may you always be an example of Christian life, fully oriented toward God, respectful of man and creation."
"I know," he continued, "that you maintain contact with monks and nuns of every religion: these relations are very important and could be fruitful. I urge you to deepen ecumenical relations with our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe. Monasticism is a natural platform for mutual understanding. This is extremely important at this moment in history for Europe to preserve its Christian roots."
The Holy Father expressed his joy that "as a large Benedictine family, you are always discovering your common heritage. Follow in the footsteps of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. 'Do not put anything before Christ.' Faithful to this rule of life, you will have a future full of God's blessings."