By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Gospel’s message of hope to the suffering and downtrodden is sorely needed in today’s world, which is “enslaved by selfishness and full of contradictions and divisions,” Pope Francis said.

“The cry of the earth and of the poor, wars and conflicts that shed blood on human history, the distressing situation of millions of migrants and refugees, an economy that makes the rich ever richer and the poor ever poorer, are some aspects of a scenario where only the Gospel can keep the light of hope burning,” the pope said during an audience with members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The pope met Oct. 3 with members of the congregation who were in Rome for their general chapter. According to its website, the members of the order, which was founded in 1816 by St. Eugène de Mazenod, are present in more than 60 countries with an estimated 5,000 priests and brothers.

Pope Francis said the Oblates are called to follow the example of their founder and be “pilgrims of hope” and restore faith to the poor who feel abandoned, even by the church.

“It is a tragedy when the ministers of the church abandon the poor,” the pope said.

Go to “the peripheries of the world beloved by God,” he told them, and reach out to “the furthest, the poorest, those whom no one reaches.”

Pope Francis welcomed the new superior of the Oblates, 58-year-old Spanish Father Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso. He succeeded U.S. Father Louis Lougen, who has led the order since 2010.

Greeting the new superior, the pope jokingly said, “poor guy, taken from the desert and brought here to Rome,” referring to his service since 2017 in the Oblate’s mission in the disputed Western Sahara territory of North Africa.