Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Romanian College, "Pio Romeno" Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Romanian College, "Pio Romeno"  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Romanian College: Be true to your roots to bear fruit

Pope Francis receives in audience the Community of the Pontifical Romanian College “Pio Romeno” on the occasion of the eighty-fifth anniversary of its establishment by Pope Pius XI.

By Vatican News staff reporter

At the heart of the Pope’s address to the Pontifical Romanian College was the need to look to one's roots, whether it be religious or cultural traditions.

Nourishing roots

He told seminarians from Romania that training in Rome offered them the opportunity to rediscover their roots in a fulfilled way, through study and meditation.

It was also a precious opportunity to reflect on how roots were formed, he said

The Pope recalled the period during World War II, when the Romanian Greek Catholic Church no longer had any active Bishops, as they had been killed or imprisoned.

He observed that many priests during that time offered to God their sufferings and the testimony of their faith, even at the cost of their lives.

The Pope underlined that without nourishing roots “every religious tradition loses fruitfulness.”

Virus of spiritual worldliness

In fact, he added, “a dangerous process occurs: as time goes by, one focuses more and more on oneself, on one's own belonging, losing the dynamism of one's origins. Then one focuses on institutional, external aspects, on the defence of one's own group, one's own history and privileges, losing, perhaps without realising it, the flavour of the gift.”

Pope Francis explained that this happens “when one becomes complacent and becomes tainted by the virus of spiritual worldliness. Then one withers in a mediocre, self-referential life, made up of careerism, climbing, the pursuit of personal satisfaction and easy pleasures.”

“Updating” roots

Being in Rome, noted the Pope, offered those at the College an opportunity bring their roots “up to date,” so that their ministry is fruitful.

“Be joyful apostles of the faith you have inherited, willing to keep nothing for yourselves and ready to reconcile with all, to forgive and to weave unity, overcoming all animosity and victimhood. Then your seed will also be evangelical and bear fruit.”

After discussing roots, the Pope turned his attention to “the soil”.

“As you study, do not forget the good soil of faith. It is that tilled by your grandparents, your parents, that of God's holy people,” he said.

“Good soil is also that which makes you touch the flesh of Christ, present in the poor, the sick, the suffering, the little ones and the simple, in those who suffer and in whom Jesus is present.”

He mentioned in particular the many refugees from neighbouring Ukraine whom Romania is also welcoming and assisting.

Priests of the people

The Pope told those present “not be theological-laboratory priests.”

“Be priests from the people, with the smell of the people, with the smell of the flock," he said.

Addressing Arabic-speaking students from the former St Ephrem's College, he said: “For the past ten years or so, you have all formed one community. Your sharing of life should not be felt as a diminution of each other's distinctive traits but as a fruitful promise of the future. The national colleges, Eastern and Latin, must not be 'enclaves' to which you return after the day of study to live as if you were at home, but workshops of fraternal communion, where you can experience authentic catholicity, the universality of the Church. This universality is the good air to breathe so as not to get sucked into particularisms that hold back evangelisation.”

“Roots, soil, and good air,” the Pope concluded,  “I wish you to cultivate your vocation in this way during your Roman years.”

19 May 2022, 13:43