Pope Urges Humility and Courage of Witness


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(13 Jan 10 - RV) In his general audience today, before launching his appeal for Haiti, Pope Benedict spoke of the movement of ecclesial reform of the medieval Church, promoted by the two great Mendicant Orders the Franciscans and Domenicans.

Speaking in the Paul VI audience hall he told over eight thousand pilgrims that in every age the saints are the true reformers of the Church's life:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on medieval Christian culture, we now consider the movement of ecclesial reform promoted by the two great Mendicant Orders. In every age the saints are the true reformers of the Church's life. In the thirteenth century Saints Francis and Dominic inspired a vast evangelical renewal which met three significant needs of the Church of that time. The Franciscans and the Dominicans adopted a lifestyle of evangelical poverty which, unlike that of the Cathars, was grounded in communion with the visible Church and a sound Christian understanding of the goodness of creation. As zealous preachers, especially in urban environments, the Friars provided religious instruction and spiritual guidance to the lay faithful, many of whom became members of their "Third Orders". Travelling freely from place to place, they also contributed to the overall renewal of Church life and the spiritual transformation of society. By their presence in the universities, the Friars worked for the evangelization of culture, affirming the harmony of faith and reason, and creating the great syntheses of scholastic theology. May their example of holiness and evangelical lifestyle inspire our own witness to the Gospel and our efforts to draw the world to Christ and his Church.

* * *I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from Denmark, Australia and the United States of America. My particular greeting goes to the many student groups present and to the faculty members. Upon all of you I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!