By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis has expressed his hope that the entire Catholic community of the Russian Federation may become "an evangelical seed that, with joy and humility, offers a limpid transparency of the Kingdom of God."
In a message penned to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Administrations for Latin-Rite Catholics in Russia, the Pope assured them of his spiritual presence with the community, "in the desire to corroborate the ecclesial communion that unites us in Christ."
He said he hopes the entire community will continue "in a vocational quest, reaching out to communion with all," because being witnesses "is so pleasing to God and contributes to the common good of the whole society. In particular, Christian witness excels in taking charge of others, especially the neediest and most neglected".
An occasion to grow according to the Gospel
The Pope noted that the anniversary, rather than simply a recollection of "juridical acts," is to be read as a moment to remember all the good received from the Lord and from so many brothers and sisters who, as true “next-door-saints”, have sustained the journey. It is also, he added, an opportunity to "grow according to the Gospel, aspiring to become communities that are ever more docile to the Word of God, animated by hope and sustained by the consoling strength of the Spirit; open, in obedience to the supreme commandment of love, to meeting and sharing in solidarity with all, especially with the brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Church.”
The importance of ecclesial self-awareness
The anniversary, therefore, the Pope continues, is a time in which to nurture "ecclesial self-awareness" so that the Church is able to renew and purify itself, and also to "remove, with God's help, every temptation to self-referentiality and self-celebration."
The path towards unity
Finally, the Pope pointed to the importance, as Christians "baptized in one Spirit to form one body: in the sphere of the Eastern Christian tradition," of continuing "to walk together". Always with the Lord’s help, he said, it is an opportunity "to deepen mutual knowledge and advance, step by step, on the path of unity," in order to then rediscover yourselves as "brothers and sisters in a common pilgrimage toward the goal of communion, which God indicates to us in every Eucharistic Celebration."