Pope thanks those with religious vows
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II thanked consecrated people on behalf of the Church and the world for their irreplaceable service to authentic peace.
As night fell Saturday, St. Peter's Basilica was illuminated with candles held by consecrated men and women whom the Pontiff described as the "light of truth and justice, witnesses of solidarity and peace."
Thus began the Mass to celebrate the Day of Consecrated Life, presided over by Cardinal Eduardo Mart'nez Somalo, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life.
As in previous years, the Holy Father delivered the homily. "How many contemplative communities, totally dedicated to prayer, night and day touching God's heart, cooperate in Christ's victory over hatred, vengeance and the structures of sin!" the Pontiff said.
The consecrated "build peace with the testimony of fraternity and communion, spreading the evangelical spirit in the world as leaven that makes humanity grow toward the Kingdom of heaven," he added.
"In multiple frontiers, there is no lack of men and women religious who offer their concrete commitment in favor of justice, working among the marginalized, intervening at the root of conflicts, and thus contributing to build a profound and lasting peace," the Bishop of Rome explained.
"Wherever the Church is committed to the defense and promotion of man and the common good, you are also there, dear consecrated men and women who, in order to belong totally to God, also belong totally to your brothers," the Pope continued. "For this reason, every person of good will is pleasing to you."
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, there are 195,425 men religious and 809,351 women religious in the world. Another 35,525 priests and lay people belong to secular institutes.