By Devin Watkins
“You call yourselves brothers, or confreres, and so you manifest the fundamental reality of our lives, that we are all children of God.”
Pope Francis made that remark on Friday to members of the Our Lady of the Ribbon Archconfraternity, during an audience in the Vatican.
Based in Spain’s Catalonia region, in the city of Tortosa, the confraternity (Nuestra Señora de la Cinta) travelled to Rome to celebrate 400 years since its foundation.
The Holy Father said their pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter confirms the bond of communion that binds them to his Successor.
Pope Francis said the word “confraternity” means a “union of brothers and sisters”, and points to a foundational unity binding its members.
“We know that brothers often argue and fight over so many things,” said the Pope, “but even when that happens, they know how to keep alive their search for good, which cannot exclude peace and harmony amongst themselves.”
Failure to reconcile, he said, causes brothers and sisters to suffer.
Leaven of solidarity
The Holy Father said members of a confraternity share a “bond of charity that as confreres unites them with their Bishop and, through him, with the Pope”.
This bond enriches their lives, he said, and impels them to carry out their mission of being “a leaven of solidarity in society.”
Welcome poor and marginalized
The Archconfraternity is dedicated to Our Lady of the Ribbon, and Pope Francis invited them to look to Mary’s example.
Its members are spread throughout the Diocese of Tortosa, he said, so they help make the Church “a house, a family, a place of welcome and of love”, especially for the poor and marginalized.
“When we live in this way, fraternity becomes a mission, which challenges us and does not leave us indifferent,” because, he said, we are guided by mutual love.