Pope Francis addressed the Italian episcopate

Source: FSSPX News

On May 23, Pope Francis pronounced a solemn profession of faith with the 250 Italian bishops, gathered in the Vatican Basilica at the conclusion of their ad limina visit.  Taking the podium, the pope mentioned the denial of Saint Peter, introducing a meditation on the pastoral ministry of the bishops and of the Supreme Pontiff.

“Every ministry is based on this intimacy with the Lord; to live in Him is the measure of our ecclesial service, which is expressed in an openness to obedience, to emptying of self, as we heard in the Letter to the Philippians, to total giving (cf. Phil 2:6-11),” the Supreme Pontiff recalled.  He explained that “loving the Lord is giving everything—absolutely everything, even one’s very life—for Him: this is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry.”  The pope continued, pointing out that through the service of their authority, the bishops were called “to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord, and so, to build up the community in fraternal charity.”

A lack of vigilance makes a pastor lukewarm, the pope maintained:  “he becomes distracted, forgetful and even impatient.”  This lack of attention on the part of a bishop, he continued, “with the prospect of a career, the lure of money, and the compromises with the spirit of the world; it makes him lazy, turning him into a functionary, a cleric worried more about himself, about organisations and structures, than about the true good of the People of God. He runs the risk, then, like the Apostle Peter, of denying the Lord, even though he presents himself and speaks formally in His name.”

Despite his “weakness”, Pope Francis declared, the pastor must “walk in front of the flock”.  He must also be able to hear the silent story of someone who is suffering and to support the steps of those who are afraid of not arriving at the destination, “careful to raise up, to reassure, and inspire hope”.  The pope invited the bishops to set aside all forms of arrogance so as to incline themselves toward those whom the Lord has entrusted to them, particularly for their priests who are their first believers, their sons and their brothers.

“Dear brothers, the profession of faith that we now renew together is not a formal act, but is a renewal of our response to the ‘Follow Me’ with which the Gospel of John concludes (21:19): allow your own life to unfold according to the project of God, committing your whole self to the Lord Jesus.”

At the conclusion of this meeting, Pope Francis took the time to greet the Italian bishops one by one, walking himself among the rows of prelates and conversing with each.

(Sources:  Apic/imedia/VIS/vatican.va – DICI no. 276 dated June 7, 2013)