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Pope urges Italian bishops: focus on Christ, be united

May 20, 2014

In a May 19 address to the Italian Episcopal Conference, Pope Francis called upon bishops to be pastors who remember that the Church is the “community of the Risen One,” that the Church is the “body of the Lord,” and the Church is called to anticipate the “promise of the Kingdom.”

As shepherds of the community of the Risen One, bishops are called to place God at the center of their lives and cultivate their relationship with Jesus Christ through “silence and prayerful listening,” Pope Francis said. Otherwise, bishops are tempted to “tepidity,” to “looking for a quiet life” and shunning sacrifice, and to presuming on one’s own strength and relying on “organizational strategies.”

As shepherds of the Church that is the Lord’s body, bishops are called to live in communion, and divisions, the Pope emphasized, constitute the gravest scandal. Eucharistic spirituality,” he continued, is the antidote to gossip, ambition, complaining, and a uniformity that would deny the gifts through which God makes the Church “young and beautiful.” Bishops, he continued, should welcome popular piety, serve as a leaven for unity, and “love with total dedication” the people entrusted to them, focusing “the harvest, more than on budgets.”

Pope Francis concluded by appealing to the bishops to live simply and close to the people and to minister to families, the unemployed, and refugees. The family, he said, is “heavily penalized by a culture that emphasizes individual rights and transmits a logic of the provisional … Promote the life of the unborn as well as the elderly.” Mercy and truth, he emphasized, cannot be separated, and a development model that sacrifices persons “on the altar of profit” must be reexamined.


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