Pope says nuns, brothers, religious priests 'a sign of God's love'
On the occasion of the World Day of Consecrated Life, Pope John Paul has called those consecrated to God in poverty, chastity and obedience are a 'manifestation of divine love for the world'.
"Poverty, chastity and obedience are distinct characteristics of redeemed man, freed interiorly from the slavery of egoism," he said during his homily at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica marking the occasion on Saturday.
"Free to love, free to serve: this is how the men and women are who deny themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven," he said. "Following in the footsteps of Christ, crucified and resurrected, they live this freedom as solidarity, bearing the spiritual and material burdens of their brothers."
This is the meaning of the "service of charity" that consecrated men and women offer "in the cloister and in hospitals, in parishes and schools, among the poor and immigrants, in the new Areopagus of the mission," he added.
The witness of integrity in "consecrated life is an epiphany of the love of God in the world," the Pope concluded.
World Day of Consecrated Life is observed on the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. The Mass, in which the Pope participated, was celebrated by Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church says that at the end of the year 2000 there were 139,397 religious priests, 518 religious deacons, 55,057 men religious (not priests), and 801,185 professed religious women. Secular institutes had 719 men members and 29,968 women members.
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
World Day for Consecrated Life, Feb 3 2003 - US Conference of Catholic Bishops
4 Feb 2003