Monastic life is a Heritage of Inestimable Value for the Church
Report from Vatican City News Service

This morning John Paul II received abbots and abbesses of the Benedictine Order, who are in Rome for their Congress. He told the religious:

"In the East and West, monastic life is a heritage of inestimable value for the Church. At the heart of the Church, monasteries were, and still are, an eloquent sign of communion, a welcome dwelling for those who seek God and the things of the spirit, schools of faith and real laboratories of study, dialogue, and culture for the edification of ecclesial life and of the terrestrial city itself, while awaiting the heavenly."

The Pontiff recalled that "Western monasticism is inspired above all in St Benedict and his Rule, which formed generations of men and women called to leave the world to dedicate themselves totally to God, placing the love of Christ at the center and above all." The Holy Father emphasized that "with the force of this mission, the Benedictine Order has not ceased to contribute to the apostolic activity of the Church. It acts with this same force, for the new evangelization. Youths and adults, Christians and non-Christians, believers and nonbelievers, are witnesses who find in you and in your monasteries points of reference, as wells from which to draw the "living water" of Christ, which is the only one that can slake people's thirst."

"How can we not stress that the characteristic of not a few of your houses is to be "on the frontiers of Christianity," in places where Christianity is in the minority? At times the witness of some members of the Benedictine Order has been crowned with martyrdom. Nevertheless, you continue in those lands, unafraid of dangers and difficulties. By developing a significant ecumenical activity and patient interreligious dialogue, you offer a precious service to the Gospel. You witness that God alone suffices," the Pope continued.

The Holy Father concluded by explaining that "in addition to being a Jubilee pilgrimage, your Congress is an intense moment of reflection and confrontation, on the threshold of the new millennium. As those in charge of the Order, you propose to examine the role of the abbot himself in the community. In addition, through listening and the exchange of rich and different experiences, you intend to examine the "mission" of the monastery in the contemporary world."