Letter of the Holy Father to the participants in the General Assembly of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the centenary of the death of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, patroness of Migrants (Chicago, 17-23 September 2017)

The following is the letter sent by the Holy Father Francis to the participants in the General Assembly of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the centenary of the death of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, patroness of migrants (Chicago, 17-23 September 2017).


Letter of the Holy Father

To the Reverend Mother

Sister Barbara Louise Staley

General Superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The centennial of the death of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is one of the main events marking the journey of the Church both because of the greatness of the figure commemorated and because of the contemporary nature of her charism and message, not just for the ecclesial community but for society as a whole. Through this message of mine and my prayers, it is my wish therefore to participate in spirit in the General Assembly which as the Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its lay collaborators you will hold from September 17 to 23 this year in Chicago near the National Shrine named after your beloved Foundress and Patron Saint of Immigrants.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini accepted a missionary vocation from God, which in those days could have been considered unusual – to train and send consecrated women all over the world setting no limits to missionary horizons, not just as auxiliaries of religious institutes or male missionaries but with their own charism as consecrated women religious. At the same time, these women were willing to collaborate fully and totally with both local churches and with various congregations dedicated to proclaim the gospel ad gentes . This clearly feminine, missionary consecration born in Mother Cabrini came from the total and loving union with the Heart of Christ whose compassion surpasses all limits. She lived and instilled in her sisters the impelling desire of reparation for the ills of the world and to overcome separation from Christ, an impetus that sustained the missionary in tasks beyond human strength. She took St. Paul’s claim, “I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me” ( Philippians 4:13) as her motto. This motto was borne out by the surprising number and by the importance of the works that she undertook during her lifetime in Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, Central America, Argentina and Brazil. But her love for the Heart of Christ translated into the evangelical fervour that shines out in the care Frances Xavier Cabrini gave to those who today are considered emarginated in society. One such example was when Mother Cabrini opened a house in the most infamous Italian quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, just one year after the cruel lynching of Italians accused of having murdered the city’s Chief of Police.

The charism of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini enlivened a total and intelligent dedication to the immigrants who left Italy for the New World. This choice was the fruit of her sincere and loving obedience to the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, and it extended to other fields of missionary work as well. Today’s epoch-making population movements with the inevitable tensions they create make Mother Cabrini a very contemporary figure. In particular, the Saint focused attention on situations of greatest poverty and fragility such as the needs of orphans and miners. She combined that with a lucid cultural sensitivity by continuous dialogue with local authorities. She undertook to conserve and revive in the immigrants the Christian tradition they knew in their country of origin, a religiosity which was sometimes superficial and often imbued with authentic popular mysticism. At the same time, she offered ways to fully integrate with the culture of the new countries so that the Missionary Mothers accompanied the Italian immigrants in becoming fully Italian and fully American. The human and Christian vitality of the immigrants thus became a gift to the churches and to the peoples who welcomed them. The great migrations underway today need guidance filled with love and intelligence similar to what characterises the Cabrinian charism. In this way the meeting of peoples will enrich all and generate union and dialog, not separation and hostility. Nor must we forget that the missionary sensitivity of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was not sectorial but universal; that is the vocation of every Christian and of every community of the disciples of Jesus.

The present centennial celebration is an invitation to take a new look at all this with intimate and joyful gratitude to God. This is a great gift above all for you, the spiritual daughters of Mother Cabrini. May your whole Institute, every community and every religious receive an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit that revitalises faith and the following of Jesus in accordance with the missionary charism of your Foundress. May your many faithful lay collaborators share and support your evangelical work in the current social context. For my part, I assure you of my remembrance and prayers with deep affection, both because I have always known the figure of Mother Cabrini and because of the special concern I devote to the cause of immigrants. While I ask you to pray for me and for my ministry, from my heart I send a special Apostolic Blessing to your Assembly, to the Congregation and to the whole Cabrinian family.

From the Vatican, 29 August 2017

Memory of martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Resignations and Appointments

Appointment of bishop of Mallorca, Spain

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of the diocese of Mallorca, Spain, H.E. Msgr. Sebastiá Taltavull Anglada, currently titular bishop of Gabi and auxiliary of Barcelona, and apostolic administrator sede vacante of Mallorca.

H.E. Msgr. Sebastiá Taltavull Anglada

Msgr. Sebastiá Taltavull Anglada was born in Ciutadella de Menorca (Menorca, Baleares) on 28 January 1948. He obtained a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Faculty of Theology of Sant Cugat of Barcelona.

He was ordained a priest in Menorca on 23 September 1972. He has since held a number of offices: from 1972 to 1989, diocesan delegate for youth; professor of religion in school, rector of the shrine of “ Nuestra Señora de Monte Toro ”, patroness of the diocese; formator of the major seminary; and secretary of the presbyteral council and the college of consulters. In 1989 he was appointed vicar general of Menorca, moderator of the Curia and member of the college of consulters, and in 1992 was appointed as diocesan bursar. He was rector of the major seminary from 1995 to 2002. In this year he was appointed as dean of the Cathedral Chapter and was member of the supervisory board of the Episcopal sub-Commission for Catechesis of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and director of the secretariat of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Ministry of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

He was appointed as titular bishop of Gabi and auxiliary of Barcelona on 28 January 2009, and was consecrated the following 21 March. In the Spanish Episcopal Conference he has served as member of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Ministry, of which he was president from 2011 to 2017. He is currently member of the Episcopal Commission for the Mass Media and that of Social Pastoral Ministry. He was appointed as apostolic administrator sede vacante of Mallorca on 8 September 2016.

Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio “Summa familiae cura” instituting the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science

Inspired by his great care for the family, St. John Paul II, following up the Synod of Bishops of 1980 on the family and the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio , of 1981, with the Apostolic Constitution Magnum Matrimonii sacramentum , conferred stable legal form to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, working at the Pontifical Lateran University. Since then, it has carried out fruitful work in theological study and pastoral formation both in its central campus in Rome and in its extra-urban Sections, now present in all continents.

More recently, the Church has taken a further Synodal journey, again placing at the centre of attention the situation of marriage and the family, firstly the extraordinary Assembly in 2014 dedicated to “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”, and then in the ordinary Assembly of 2015 on “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the world”. The climax of this intense journey was the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia , published on 19 March 2016.

This Synodal season has led the Church towards a renewed awareness of the Gospel of the family and of the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called upon to answer. The centrality of the family in the paths of “pastoral conversion” [1] of our communities and of “missionary transformation of the Church” [2] demands that – also at the level of academic formation – in reflection on marriage and on the family the pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity must never be lacking. If a fruitful examination of pastoral theology cannot be conducted neglecting the special ecclesial profile of the family [3], likewise that same pastoral sensibility must be aware of the valuable contribution of thought and reflection that research, in the deepest and most rigorous way, the truth of the revelation and wisdom of the tradition of faith, in view of its better comprehension at the present time.

“The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church. … We do well to focus on concrete realities, since ‘the calls and the demands of the Spirit resound in the events of history’, and through these the Church can also be guided to a more profound understanding of the inexhaustible mystery of marriage and the family”. [4]

Anthropological-cultural change, that today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, does not permit us to limit ourselves to practices in pastoral ministry and mission that reflect forms and models of the past. We must be informed and impassioned interpreters of the wisdom of faith in a context in which individuals are less well supported than in the past by social structures, and in their emotional and family life. With the clear purpose of remaining faithful to the teaching of Christ, we must therefore look, with the intellect of love and with wise realism, at the reality of the family today in all its complexity, with its lights and its shadows. [5]

For these reasons I have considered it timely to give a new legal disposition to the John Paul II Institute, so that “the farsighted intuition of Saint John Paul II, who strongly wanted this academic institution, today [may] be better recognised and appreciated it its fruitfulness and timeliness”. [6] Therefore, I have arrived at the deliberation of instituting a Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science, broadening its field of interest, both in relation to the new dimensions of the pastoral task and of the ecclesial mission, and with reference to developments in the human sciences and in anthropological culture in a field so fundamental for the culture of life.

Art. 1

With the present Motu Proprio I institute the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science which, linked to the Pontifical Lateran University, succeeds and substitutes the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on the Marriage and Family, established byu the Apostolic Constitution Magnum Matrimonii sacramentum , which thus comes to an end. It will therefore be essential that the original inspiration that gave life to the former Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family continue to bear fruit in the broader field of activity of the new Theological Institute, effectively contributing to making it correspond fully to the current demands of the pastoral mission of the Church.

Art. 2

The new Institute shall constitute, within the range of the Pontifical institutes, an academic centre of reference in the service of the mission of the universal Church, in the field of sciences regarding marriage and the family and with regard to themes connected to the fundamental covenant of the man and the woman for the care of generation and creation.

Art. 3

The special relationship of the new Theological Institute with the ministry and the teaching of the Holy See will be further enhanced by the privileged relation that it will establish, in forms to be mutually agreed, with the Congregation for Catholic Education, with the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, and with the Pontifical Academy for Life.


§ 1. The Pontifical Theological Institute, thus renewed, will adapt its own structures and use the necessary tools – professorships, lecturers, programmes, administrative staff – to carry out the scientific and ecclesial mission entrusted to it.

§ 2. The academic authorities of the Theological Institute are the Grand Chancellor, the Dean and the Board of the Institute.

§ 3. The Theological Institute has the faculty of conferring iure proprio to its students the following academic qualifications: the Doctorate in Matrimonial and Family Sciences; the Master’s Degree in Matrimonial and Family Sciences; and the Diploma in Matrimonial and Family Sciences.

Art. 5

The provisions made herein shall be furthered and defined in the Statutes, approved by the Holy See. In a special way, the most suitable methods shall be sought to promote cooperation and collaboration, in the activities of teaching and research, between the authorities of the Theological Institute and those of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Pending the approval of the new Statues, the Theological Institute shall be temporarily governed by the statutory regulations currently in effect in the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, including its structure in the form of Sections and the related norms, to the extent that they are not in conflict with the present Motu Proprio.

Everything that I have decreed in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio must be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if it be worthy of particular mention, and I hereby set forth and I dispose that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, that it enter into force on the day of promulgation, and thereafter be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis .

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on 8 September, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the year 2017, the fifth of my Pontificate


[1] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , 26-32.

[2] Cf. Ibid ., chapter 1.

[3]  Cf. Vatican Ecumenical Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium , 11.

[4] Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia , 31; cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio , 4.

[5] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia 32.

[6] Address to the academic community of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family , 27 October 2016; L’Osservatore Romano , 28 October 2016, p. 8.