2014-03-08 Vatican- Pope Francis has sent a message to the participants of a Vatican Symposium on "The management of the ecclesiastical goods of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for the service of humanity and for the mission of the Church."

The two-day event, which was organized at the request of Pope Francis, is taking place at the Pontifical University Antonianum, which is run by the Franciscan Order.

“Our times are characterized by significant changes and progress in many areas,” Pope Francis writes. “However, despite reducing poverty, these achievements have often helped to build an economy of exclusion and inequality.”

Pope Francis writes the Christian community is challenged by the precariousness in which many people now live. He also affirms that Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life “can and should” be at the forefront of efforts to witness to the “principle of gratuitousness” and to “the logic of gift” when it comes to economic activity.

“The fidelity to the founding charism and subsequent spiritual heritage, together with the proper aim of each institute, remain the first criterion of evaluation of the administration, management, and all the operations made in the institution at every level : ‘The nature of the charism in communities of this kind directs their energies, sustains their fidelity and directs directs the apostolic work of all towards the one mission.’ (Vita Consecrata, 45),” the Pope writes.

He calls on them to be vigilant in ensuring that administration is done carefully and transparently.

He writes that Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are always a “prophetic voice” and witness to the “novelty which is Christ, conformed to him who became poor, and thus enriching us with his poverty.”

He warns against a “theoretical poverty”, writing that Institutes need a poverty that comes from “touching the flesh of the poor Christ: in the humble, the poor, the sick, the children.”