The papal message, addressed to the Minim Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage, who are holding their general chapter in Rome, emphasized the importance of the congregation's charism. That charism consists in remembering the profound communion between the living and the dead.
In particular, the message published Saturday by the Vatican Press Office stressed "'suffrage' for the souls in purgatory."
"The first and highest form of charity for brothers is the ardent desire for their eternal salvation," the Pope observed.
"Christian love knows no boundaries and goes beyond the limits of space and time, enabling us to love those who have already left this earth," he said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in Nos. 1030 and 1031, says, in part: "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect."
The Holy Father also urged the religious to be "tireless and joyful heralds of hope to the humanity of our time, which too often seems darkened by violence and injustice, enclosed in merely earthly horizons."
The Minim Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage, founded by Italian Blessed Francesco Faa di Bruno (1825-1888), number 210 nuns and novices around the world.
They see theirs as a mission "to pray" (in union with Christ); "to act" (in favor of men, especially the weak, poor and excluded); "to suffer" (in offering their life for the souls in purgatory).