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Pope Francis to Passionists at international congress: Christ’s cross an invitation to set aside divisive agendas

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St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionist Fathers, is pictured with Mary and angels in this artwork provided by the order. The Passionist Fathers will commemorate the 300th anniversary of their founding by St. Paul with a jubilee celebration that begins Nov. 22 with the opening of a Holy Door and Mass in Rome. (CNS photo/courtesy Passionist Fathers)

VATICAN CITY — Jesus’ death on the cross calls Christians to focus on helping the vulnerable rather than defending contentious agendas, Pope Francis said.

In a letter to participants at a congress hosted by the Passionist Fathers, the pope said the saving power “unleashed by the weakness of the cross reveals to theology the importance of an approach that knows how to combine the loftiness of reason with the humility of the heart.”

“Before the Crucified One, theology is also invited to address the most fragile and concrete conditions of men and women and to set aside polemical methods and agendas, joyfully sharing the labor of study, and confidently seeking the precious seeds that the word scatters amidst the jagged and sometimes contradictory plurality of cultures,” he wrote in the letter released Sept. 21.

The Sept. 21-24 international theological congress focused on “The Wisdom of the Cross in a Pluralistic World” was part of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Passionist’s founding in 1720 by St. Paul of the Cross.

“The purpose of the congress is to attempt to discover a current language and method of proclaiming and giving witness, in this ‘pluralist world,’ to the wisdom of the cross and to deepening the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice as the most credible and concrete proof of God’s love for humanity and a sure promise of resurrection and salvation,” the Passionists said in a statement.

In his letter, the pope said that by contemplating Jesus on the cross, Christians are made aware of God’s love and mercy for all men and women, a love and mercy that “reaches the extremes of our human condition.”

[The Passionist Fathers prepare to mark 300th anniversary with jubilee celebration]

“The cross of the Lord, a source of salvation for people of every place and every time, is therefore vibrant and effective also and above all at a crossroads, such as the contemporary one, characterized by rapid and complex changes,” the pope said.

Pope Francis expressed his hope that the congress would promote “fruitful theological, cultural and pastoral interactions” and that it would “contribute to a renewed understanding of contemporary challenges in light of the wisdom of the cross, in order to foster evangelization faithful to God’s design and attentive to humanity.”

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