Pontiff Requests Aid for Contemplative Religious

Affirms Value of Prayer from Cloisters

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is asking for support for all those who dedicate themselves to a life of contemplation in cloistered monasteries.

The Pope made this appeal today, a day after the liturgical memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, which is also the annual "Pro Orantibus" Day, when the Church prays in a special way for those in a contemplative vocation.

The Holy Father invited everyone to support these religious in their needs.

He expressed particular gratitude to the nuns of the cloister that Pope John Paul II founded in the Vatican. Nuns of the Visitation of Mary order have just arrived in this community, succeeding the Poor Clares, Carmelites and Benedictines.

"Your prayer, Dear Sisters, is very precious to my ministry," the Pontiff affirmed.

According to the most recent estimates furnished by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, to which the Secretariat of Assistance to Nuns is closely connected, there are some 2,635 of these convents in Europe, 802 in Latin America, 301 in Asia, 279 in North America, 140 in Africa, and 21 in Oceania. These cloistered convents have seen a recent surge in vocations over the past 20 years.