On Saturday morning, 1 October, in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis met with members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer — also known as the Redemptorists — participating in their General Chapter. The Holy Father decided to set aside his prepared speech and addressed the group extemporaneously. He reminded those present of the importance of having the “ability to leave one’s comfort zone” in order to fully live out their mission. The following is a translation of his address, which he delivered in Spanish.
I would like to say a few more words spontaneously. To go on mission, to go out on mission, that is, the missionary dimension which you mentioned in your speech. I was struck by a phrase you said: “leaving your comfort zones and going on mission”. I wonder, what are the comfort zones that a Congregation has, that a province has, that a community has and that each one of us has? Ask yourselves this question, because it has been said that each person accommodates the vows as he pleases. And then, one can practise poverty with a bank account, one can practise chastity with a companion, and one can practise obedience by talking and deciding whatever one wants. These are very distorted forms. But what always produces a distortion in the three vows is comfort. That is where the evil comes in, by trying to be comfortable, to be at ease, to live a bourgeois life, without going out on mission, and going on mission, and going on mission. Each one of us should analyse our own temptation of comfort. We all have that temptation. We all have that temptation.
Just now, for example, when they told me: “There are many priests you have to go and talk to”, I thought: “Ugh, I want to go to lunch...”. Comfort, right? [laughs]. I mean, we all have the temptation of comfort, but each one of us has it “with their own first and last name”. Look for the root of comfort in each one of you, and that will help you to detach yourselves and look out to the horizon of the mission. A Redemptorist without this horizon of mission, even if he has to sit at a desk all his life, has no meaning. The horizon of the mission. And, for that, the ability to leave one’s comfort zone. So, I suggest that, as a fruit of this Chapter, in your prayer during these days, each one of you ask yourself: “How am I tied down, what is my comfort zone, that which does not allow me to be free, that prevents me from flying?”. Try to answer this question.
The second thing that characterizes Redemptorists is that they are moral teachers, and I thank them for that. Above all, I want to thank the Alphonsianum here in Rome. I think the Rector is here.... He is not here. Give him my regards, because I wanted to tell him that he is doing very well, very well. You are rendering a service to a mature, serious, Catholic moral theology. And at an impressive level, a very high academic level. So, I thank you, as well as the Father General, that this Institute continues to help the Church. Teachers of morals, but also teachers of morals in the children’s catechism, in the confessionals…
That people understand what is right and what is wrong, that they know that God’s mercy covers everything; but that they know what is right and what is wrong, because one thing is God’s mercy, and another thing is “manganchismo”, being indulgent, saying “everything is fine”... not distinguishing, not having a moral culture — that is so important, without reductionism. Today, with great sadness, we have to say that there are commandments that are not fulfilled, that are not upheld, in the face of these social injustices that exist. For example: people who squander their money on travel, tourism, parties, luxury restaurants; and people who do not have enough to eat a loaf of bread. So, there is an immorality of thought there. The Eighth Commandment, who fulfils it today? Nowadays, if one can cheat others, take away what is fair, underpay them… fair wages — there are increasingly less of them. How many jobs are lacking! People accept whatever they can get. In other words, they go against justice, against the truth. Please, teach strong morals there, continue doing so. Apply your conscience. And also all the commandments. Idolatry, for example, what is it? “No, I do not worship any idol”. You are full of idols, but you teach: “This is idolatry”.
I tell you to continue with this because you are doing it, and very well, but don’t forget that you are formators of conscience. This is what I mean: formators of moral conscience. And this is a charisma that you have, that you inherited from the Founder, who dedicated himself to these things as well, among others.
I thank you for what you do for the Church, truly. I thank you from the depths of my soul. I thank you for your 13 years here... To survive in Rome is not easy! And when you are struggling a bit, drink a little cachaça to lift your spirits (laughs).
Now, I want to give you my blessing.
After the Blessing, the Holy Father continued:
And do not forget to ponder: “what is my comfort zone?”…